Shiatsu is a form of massage that originated in Japan and is now found to be used traditionally in Chinese medicine. Shiatsu has been widely practiced worldwide since the 1970s. Shiatsu means "finger pressure," which describes the technique. In shiatsu therapy, pressure with thumbs, hands, elbows, knees, or feet is applied to the body's pressure points. This form of massage also focuses on rotating and stretching limbs, joints, and pressure points, or meridians (pathways which vital energy is said to flow), as they are called in traditional Chinese medicine.
Eastern medicine has an entirely 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 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.
Benefits of Shiatsu massage to the body and mind
- 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 people with arthritis
- 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 the treatment of such various things as digestive disorders, bowel trouble, morning sickness, and menstrual problems