Shiatsu is a massage therapy technique practiced with soft and strong pressures on the reflex points of the body. The therapist mainly exert pressure with his thumbs and fingers—hence its name shiatsu, which means “finger pressure” in Japanese—but also with his or her palms, elbows and sometimes feet.
The shiatsu massage finds its origin in traditional Chinese medicine. Then, it evolved in Japan, where it has officialy been recognized as a medicine on its own by the Health ministry in 1955. The theory that energy fluxes (meridians) intertwine throughout the body comes from its Chinese roots. The Japanese influence has integrated more accessible physiological and anatomical notions to the Western vision.
The shiatsu massage is used as a therapeutic, preventive or relaxing care. In the Eastern mindset, sickness and ailment are seen as the result of a poor energy flow through the meridians and their associated organs. Shiatsu massage would therefore act to restore the body’s natural defense system, rebalance the body and put the mind to rest as it unblocks the flow of energy in the meridians.
On a physical aspect, this technique eliminates tensions caused by stress, relieves muscle and joint pain, enhances muscle flexibility and stimulates blood and lymphatic flow throughout the body.
The shiatsu massage can be practiced on a massage table, a massage chair or a futon put on the ground. It is performed without oils, as the receiver remains dressed. Before the massage, the therapist will inquire about the health of his client through a questionnaire to determine the patterns of imbalance and to check the absence of counter indications.
The massage therapist exerts pressure directly on skin or light clothing by focusing on the meridians and acupuncture points under the skin or in muscles. The pressure impact will be tailored to the client’s need and can sometimes be painful.
Anyone with a good health condition is eligible to receive a shiatsu massage care. However, fevers, skin problems, cardiovascular difficulties, osteoporosis or a recent surgery are counter indications to this type of care.