Shiatsu Massage Therapy

Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique done with the use of fingers. The massage technique involves an ancient finger-pressure healing technique.

The therapy includes the method of anma, a Japanese traditional massage, stretching, and acupressure. Shiatsu therapy is also known as needle-less acupuncture.


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The holistic massage involves the application of pressure on key meridian points that coincide with several organs and energy channels in the human body.

A shiatsu massage is said to relax muscle stress and re-energize circulation. The therapy works simultaneously at both mental and physical levels by reducing stress and healing diseases and illnesses. The massage was acknowledged as a medical therapy by the Japanese government in 1964.

How Shiatsu Therapy Works

Shiatsu massage therapy does not require an individual to remove clothes. However, a sheet or a robe may be preferred by the client. The technique does not involve use of oils during the massage. In traditional Chinese medicine, diseases are believed to be a result of energy imbalance or qi (chi, ki) in the body. Shiatsu massage involves direct pressure from the thumb, forearm and the palms to relax the tired muscles and remove imbalances of qi. The pressure is also applied with the knees to loosen the stiff back muscles. The massage is typically carried out with the client lying on the floor on a mat. This helps the therapist to utilise the entire body pressure across the hard surface. Furthermore, with new innovations in technology, mechanical chairs such as Panasonic shiatsu chairs provide a shiatsu-like massage complete with kneading and tapping techniques. However, the efficiency of the chair massage or this kind of shiatsu massagers is yet to be validated.


Shiatsu corrects internal energy flow in order to cure disorders and promote wellbeing. The results are attained through manipulations and exclusive pressure techniques. The massage therapy thus offers a range of benefits.

Relaxation and stress release: Shiatsu abides by the acupuncture rules and works on several meridian points in the human body to remove blockages and alleviate stress. The only difference is that instead of needles, in shiatsu, pressure application is utilized. The pressure and manipulation techniques applied on the key stress points relaxes the mind and relieves the negative energies from the body. The massage stretches stiff ligaments and rejuvenates strained muscles.

Prevention of disease: Shiatsu massage fortifies the weak immune system and energizes lymph and blood flow.

Qualified shiatsu therapists manipulate the unstable energy channels and correct the balance, which helps protect the body from illnesses and promotes a healthy physical and mental balance. Some of the internal body systems that benefit from the massage are as follows:

  • Nervous system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Respiratory system
  • Endocrine system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Reproductive system

Pain Relief: Shiatsu therapists are qualified to locate the painful or discomfort zones in the body. The point or the zone is identified and the required pressure and manipulation is applied to reduce pain and discomfort. People suffering from lower back pain and cancer patients often benefit from the gentle shiatsu massage therapy.

Conditions That Benefit from Shiatsu Treatment

Back Problems: Shiatsu reduces the back pain by applying pressure on the specific points to loosen the stiffness and to retain the elasticity in the muscles. In a study published in the PubMEd, US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, shiatsu therapy was recommended for people suffering from lower back pain. The therapy showed a considerable decrease in anxiety and pain in patients with lower back pain.

Sinus Headaches: Shiatsu massage releases the pressure and congestion in the sinus cavities. The massage drains the mucus, which provides relief in sinus-related headaches. The pressure is also applied on the meridian points in the nose, hand and eye socket to relieve sinus congestion.

Insomnia/Sleep Disorders: Shiatsu encourages regular and healthy sleep patterns by working on the PS (parasympathetic system). The system regulates the adrenaline in the blood. The massage relaxes the system and decreases the sympatho-adrenal response. The effect calms the nerves and induces proper sleep.

Sports Injuries: Shiatsu therapy rehabilitates the injury by employing methods such as palpating the injured area. The therapy also realigns the body and minimizes the pain and discomfort.

Constipation Relief: Shiatsu massage employs mild pressure on the specific points on the fingers, hands, elbow and ribs to remove the disruptions and ease the digestive  process.

Some other conditions that benefit from shiatsu massage include:

  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Arthiritis
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue


Shiatsu is advised for people with certain conditions only after an expert advice. These conditions include:

  • Post surgery
  • People with osteoporosis
  • Contagious skin conditions or rashes
  • Open wounds
  • Immediately after radiation or chemotherapy
  • Pregnant women
  • Inflamed skin conditions or bruises
  • Tumors
  • Hernia
  • Fractures


  • Relax before the therapy
  • Avoid heavy meals before the shiatsu massage

Shiatsu is a specialized technique with immense benefits. However, the massage should be performed by a qualified shiatsu therapist. It is advisable to consult the medical specialist or a doctor before undertaking the shiatsu therapy, for any doubts and concerns.

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