Shiatsu is a form of manual therapy that is based in the principles of traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. The word “shiatsu” means “finger pressure” in Japanese, and it is practiced by using pressure, mostly from the thumbs and palms, to manipulate the flow of the body’s natural energy. In traditional Chinese medicine, the body’s energy is called qi (pronounced “chee”), and it flows through the body in lines called meridians. Imbalances in qi or obstructed flow in the meridians can lead to a variety of symptoms, including musculo-skeletal pain, insomnia, anxiety, and digestive disorders. Using pressure, kneading, and stretching, the shiatsu practitioner restores balance to the body’s energy flow, which can provide a great amount of relief from symptoms. This can promote constitutional strength and vitality.
What will happen at my appointment?
The session will begin with an evaluation, during which your therapist will conduct an assessment and ask you questions about your condition and health history. Once a clear impression of your situation is established, there is a discussion of possible treatment approaches.
During the session, you will remain fully clothed while your therapist uses a combination of pressure and stretching at key points around your body to help restore even conductivity along the pathways of the nervous system. Afterwards, your therapist may make some recommendations for diet, exercise, or stretching that will help you sustain the benefit of your treatments and build resilience.
Is Shiatsu effective?
Shiatsu is the primary form of manual therapy that is practiced in Japan, but it has only recently come into prominence in the west. Universities and research institutes have begun conducting studies on its efficacy. A 2007 report from the University of Leeds studied the results from the shiatsu treatment of 948 people in Austria, Spain, and the United Kingdom over six months. It found that there was a significant reduction in symptom severity among people in the study. (1) In a review of previously performed studies, researchers determined that shiatsu showed “promising” evidence for the treatment of a variety of symptoms, and that more research is needed. (2) In the meantime, there is very strong anecdotal evidence that shiatsu is effective in easing pain and a variety of other symptoms. In our personal experience at Oakville Shiatsu & Massage Therapy Centre, we have seen shiatsu be effective in a wide variety of cases, and we have confidence in its usefulness when appropriately applied.
- 1. Long, AF (2007). Executive Summary. Final Report. The Effects and Experience of Shiatsu: A Cross-European Study. Leeds: University of Leeds, School of Healthcare.
- 2. Robinson, Nicola et al (2011). Shiatsu and Acupressure: A Review of the Effectiveness of Evidence. London: London South Bank University.