Aviva Directory » Health & Well-Being » Alternative Medicine » Energy Therapies » Shiatsu

Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork based on traditional Chinese medicine concepts, such as qi life energy, with dual origins in the older Japanese message modality known as Amna.

Shiatsu is a form of massage therapy in which the practitioner utilizes the hands, thumbs, fingers, palms or other body parts to apply direct pressure on various points or channels in the body. Fingers are the most commonly used, however. Shiatsu means "finger pressure."

It is a form of acupressure that uses assisted stretching, joint manipulation, and mobilization may also be used. Generally, the technique is performed through loose clothing and does not use oils, although the ease of application allows for Shiatsu to be applied in virtually any massage setting, ranging from fully-clothed patients seated in a massage chair to undressed patients lying on a massage table. Shiatsu is sometimes practiced as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other massage treatments.

Massage is a practice that has been used for thousands of years. Shiatsu is one of several massage therapies people seek for relaxation, healing, and relief.

The practice has its basis in a holistic model of the body, although it integrates well with conventional medicine. Historically, Shiatsu views illness as a disharmony in the body's non-physical nature, known as qi. Like most other energy therapies, Shiatsu seeks a balance in the life energy, and therefore the body.

Since qi is believed to travel through the body through meridian channels, the idea is that there are certain places on the human body that corresponds to the qi location, which also serve as acupuncture points.

Shiatsu is believed to be effective in the treatment of a range of disorders, including joint problems such as arthritis, painful muscles, fatigue, acute and chronic aches and pains, sports injuries, muscle tension, poor posture, digestive disorders, asthma, hay fever, constant colds, skin conditions, sciatica, sinusitis, bronchitis, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

The view of many conventional medical providers is that there is no scientific evidence showing that Shiatsu will prevent or cure any disease, although it is considered to be safe.

A 2019 study determined that combining Shiatsu with conventional treatment for low back pain demonstrated improved symptoms and quality of life following the session, and self-shiatsu has been found to have some positive effects on younger people suffering from chronic pain, as well as for young adults suffering from sports-related concussions.

In order to legally practice Shiatsu in the United States, the practitioner is required to become a licensed massage therapist and possess a certification of specialization in Shiatsu. The U.S. Department of Education classifies Shiatsu as an Asian bodywork therapy rather than a form of massage therapy, as the practice uses a traditional Chinese medicine model of the body rather than a purely physical one.



Recommended Resources

Search for Shiatsu on Google or Bing