From the land of the rising sun …
… comes one of the most popular forms of massage therapy: the
Shiatsu massage from Japan. Originally heavily influenced by traditional
Chinese medicine, the Shiatsu massage has evolved into an energy-focused
massage. Translated, Shiatsu literally means “finger pressure”, even though a
Shiatsu therapist also uses elbows, knees and feet for the massage. A Shiatsu
massage is applying selective pressure on blocked body regions and stimulating
the flow of energy, or flow of “Chi”. Once the blockage has been resolved and
the “chi” can flow freely through the body, a patient should feel
better mentally and physically.
In contrast to many other massages the Shiatsu massage is
aimed towards slowing down body functions, not to accelerate them. Thus,
desirable therapeutic effects are e.g. a slowed heart rate, calmed breathing,
decreased lymphatic circulation.
Photo by „Manuel Cosentino“
According to Asian wisdom …
… man does not consist solely of physical matter, such as
muscles, bones or organs, but to a considerable extent also of an invisible
energy, the “Chi”. The Chi is transported through certain channels, the
so-called meridians, throughout the body. Now, stressful everyday life, wrong movements or because of depressive experiences
and dramatic life situations, that the meridians get blocked, the chi is jammed
and we feel physical displeasure and emotional stress.
Here, we also see what’s peculiar about the shiatsu massage:
It is not a purely physical form of massage therapy. Shiatsu does not only for
relieve physical symptoms, such as pain or tension, but also helps with mental
health problems or pains such as grief, depression and stress.
Photo by „Jeremy Thomas“
Office stress, back pain, bad mood …
… the Shiatsu therapy is holistic in its application and
promises relaxation of body & soul for everyone. Regardless of whether
there is any physical ailment and, if so, of what nature it is, the Shiatsu
massage aims to activate the body’s self-healing powers and improve well-being
Anyone who is either in a depressing crisis in life or
someone whose office life constantly causes him headaches and stomach aches,
can resort to a Shiatsu therapy for regeneration.
While the shiatsu massage is recommendable to everyone,
caution must be taken in case a patient suffers from acute physical illness,
such as a flu or cold. Under these circumstances the shiatsu massage may add unnecessary
physical stress and contribute to the further weakening of the body. The same
may apply if someone is suffering from acute injuries of the skeletal or
ligament system, e.g. suffers from a herniated disc. Although Shiatsu is
basically a gentle form of therapy without extreme physical pressure, it is
always advised to consult the healthcare professional (such as the attending
physician / therapist) before indulging in the therapy. As in any case, it is
important to discuss the treatment beforehand, and tailor the therapy to
Photo by „Toa Heftiba“
Light, comfortable clothing…
…clothing is recommended as the patient needs to be able to
move flexibly. The therapist then begins the massage by palpating the abdomen.
In the abdomen, all meridians accumulate, which in traditional Chinese medicine
are called channels of the body in which the chi flows. It is therefore an
important indicator for the expert. Here, gentle pressure is used to sense how
the flesh feels to the touch whether there are harder tissue knots that may
indicate blockage, or if the skin feels particularly hot or cold.
Based on the information gained hereby, the therapist then
begins to work on the rest of the body. He does not work with muscle power, but
with his body weight. With gentle pressure of the fingers, palms, thumbs,
elbows or knees, one massages along the energy pathways of the body. The body
is kneaded, padded, massaged and stimulated, while the patient always remains
passive. In shiatsu, communication between patient and therapist happens via
touch. It is a constant communication without words – the therapist is listening
with his hands. This attentive listening enables him to respond to the body and
energetic reactions of the patient immediately and individually. Shiatsu is not
a massage, it’s a counseling.