You may have heard of shiatsu before, or even seen several massage therapists offer it. Maybe you’ve already tried it, or it sounded interesting but you haven’t had the opportunity to experience it yourself. But what, exactly, is shiatsu?
The roots of shiatsu, or “finger pressure”, can be traced back to the early 1900s, when the Japanese developed three systems of bodywork thanks to rising interest in Japan’s traditional therapies. These systems are the foundation of shiatsu therapy we know and are more familiar with today, no matter what style of shiatsu is used.
In Eastern medicine, it’s believed that one’s health can be affected by an imbalance in the flow of one’s chi, or energy. That’s why shiatsu makes use of pressure from thumbs, fingers, hands, and even elbows, knees or feet on pressure points or meridians on the body. This is said to release blockages and restore proper flow of the body’s chi so that healing can begin.
That being said, here are some of the benefits you can look forward to when you try shiatsu.
It helps reduce stress.
Many agree that massage therapy in general is useful for lessening stress and tension, as well as protecting against stress-related health issues such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety. Shiatsu itself is well-suited to this, because of its rhythmic, soothing nature.
If the goal of the session was to relax, you will be relaxed afterwards, so even if a source of stress is still there, it doesn’t affect you as much.
It helps manage pain.
While research into this is still rather limited, there is still evidence that shiatsu therapy can help with all kinds of pain. For example, one clinical study has shown that shiatsu applied to the hands and legs of burn victims lessened pain, and led to a decreased dosage of pain relievers.
Multiple studies have also shown that acupressure – which shiatsu makes use of as a guide to where to apply pressure – is effective in managing lower back pain. One such study even noted that age, gender, length of history with back pain, and medications taken didn’t alter shiatsu’s effectiveness. So if you suffer from some form of chronic pain, shiatsu can definitely help.
It improves circulation.
While shiatsu is believed to improve the flow of energy in the body, it also improves blood circulation. As the massage stimulates different areas of the body, blood flow to and from those areas improves. This leads to efficient removal of any waste products, not to mention promotes healing.
This is also why shiatsu is said to be good for treating injuries, as the improved circulation can help to speed up healing. It doesn’t happen overnight, of course, but people with sprains and strains have said they don’t have as much difficulty moving the affected limb after a shiatsu massage, compared to the traditional treatment of applying ice and letting the limb rest.