Shiatsu is a form of massage that originated in Japan and traditional Chinese medicine, and has been widely practiced around the world since the 1970s. Shiatsu means “finger pressure,” which describes the technique. In shiatsu massage pressure with thumbs, hands, elbows, knees or feet is applied to pressure points on the body. This form of massage also focuses on rotating and stretching limbs, joints, and pressure points, or meridians, as they’re called in traditional Chinese medicine.
Eastern medicine has a completely different perspective on health, the body and what is needed for healing. The West approaches illnesses and disease as problems that need to be fixed, with the remedy usually in the form of a pill. Eastern medicine believes the body and mind need to be in balance with its surroundings.
The theory behind shiatsu is that our bodies are made up of energy, called qi, and that energy gets blocked and causes suffering. Shiatsu massage helps remove the blockages by realigning meridian points, which balances the qi and eases the body and mind. When one balances qi, or vital energy, healing occurs in the body. The nervous and immune systems are both stimulated by applying pressure to the meridians, providing relief for both body and mind. Shiatsu also restores the circulatory system, improving blood flow throughout the body.
The body has twelve meridians, named according to its corresponding organ: lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, heart governor, triple heater, gall bladder and liver. The functions of these organs have a broader definition in Eastern medicine.
Shiatsu massage has many benefits to the body and mind. Here is a list of some of those benefits:
- Restore and maintain the body’s energy, especially helpful to those suffering from fatigue and overall weakness
- Improves circulation
- Reduces stress and tension as well as anxiety and depression
- Relief from headaches
- Promotes healing from sprains and similar injuries
- Helps bring relief to arthritis sufferers
- Reduces problems with stiff neck and shoulders as well as backaches (including sciatica)
- Coughs, colds, and other sinus and respiratory problems
- Helps those dealing with insomnia
- Aids in treatment of such various things as digestive disorders, bowel trouble, morning sickness, and menstrual problems