Shiatsu – Japanese Acupressure Massage Therapy

Shiatsu is a form of massage therapy that originated from Japan, it is very much like acupuncture but without the needles instead shiatsu massage is based on finger pressure. The treatment is based on the energy flow throughout the body, called “Chi” this energy is said to course throughout the body in “meridian” channels and at times it may get depleted or blocked.

What are Meridian Channels?

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The Japanese believe there to be twelve meridian channels throughout the entire body each one of these relates to a particular organ of the body these channels allow energy to course through these organs, when people become ill it is thought there has been a disruption of this energy or a blockage of this energy.

The purpose of these channels is to control movement in the body, join the arms, head and legs to the rest of the body and regulate the organs to the body. These channels are not only connected to the organs but also conform to the eastern way of thinking of function of the organs.

For example the large intestine’s function is secretion, so it is therefore related emotionally to loss; the person who is frugal with money can suffer from constipation. This to the eastern philosophy is connected in the theory of spending a lot of money can cause problems with the large intestine, i.e. constipation.

The Treatment

Shiatsu massage is aimed at releasing this trapped energy therefore enabling it to flow throughout the body, restoring the natural balance, this is achieved by applying pressure to various points along those channels using mainly the thumbs, knuckles, palms and sometimes the use of feet, elbows and knees.

The massage can last between 30 to 90 minutes and the recipient will normally lie on a floor mat, unlike traditional massage loose clothing is usually worn throughout the session.

During the treatment diagnosis will also be made there are several way the therapist will do this, “bun-shin” which is taking into account the smell of the breath and body and also the tone of the voice, “mon-shin” asking a series of questions relating to the disease, “bo-shin” takes into account the shape and colour of the body.

The most important of these is “setsu-shin” this is reflection points on the back, tongue and pulse. Often both diagnosis of the problem and treatment will be given at the same time, as the therapist works he or she will gain information with which to make a diagnosis.

Although acupuncture works on the same meridian channels the big difference in the two is the close contact in which the therapist works alongside the recipient, this is thought to give a sense of trust and aids in relaxation, thus problems that may be hidden often surface.

The Japanese believe this to play a crucial role in the recovery process for they believe that for every pain is an underlying pain waiting to surface and it is only when this happens that recovery can truly begin.