Shiatsu is a word many folks have heard before, but can’t quite place exactly what it is. Here are the most frequently asked questions I get when I tell people I’m a shiatsu therapist.
Shiatsu? Is that a breed of dog?
Nope, that’s a Shih-Tzu! They are pretty cute (and one of my friends likes to suggest I get a Shiatsu Shih-Tzu as a mascot).
Is it a martial art?
Not that either – though if you are a practitioner of any branch of martial arts, you will probably benefit from getting shiatsu to help your body recover! Shiatsu came out of Anma therapy which is thousands of years old and was initially used as a type of ‘battlefield medicine’ to treat injuries that came from fighting.
Is it acupressure?
Getting warmer! Acupressure focuses on pressing certain point and point combination to treat pain or illness in the body, similar to how an acupuncturist inserts a needle into points. During a shiatsu session, I definitely will hold, stimulate, and press on certain powerful points as part of the treatment – but I work the entire channels that run through your body, connecting these points. I also use my palms, forearms, and knees, not simply thumbs.
Oh, so it’s massage!
Shiatsu is definitely touch therapy and receivers get the same benefits that come from massage as far as relaxation, boosted immune system, muscular release. But shiatsu is a way to tune-up and treat the whole body, internal and external, emotional and physical, so I tend to call them shiatsu “treatments” or “sessions”, rather than massages. I have clients who get shiatsu for back pain or shoulder stiffness, but also allergies, indigestion, insomnia, chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, grief, and more. If you’ve had acupuncture, shiatsu is based on similar theories but done with my hands instead of needles – the effects are quite similar. Shiatsu is traditionally done on a futon mat on the floor with no oil and wearing soft comfortable clothes, though I also do shiatsu treatments on tables, if that is more comfortable for your body.
In Western terms, I am manually manipulating the fluid in the connective tissue of the body and utilizing perpendicular pressure to induce the Piezoelectric Effect in our muscles. But in the simplest terms, shiatsu is touch therapy that encourages your body to heal itself.