Shiatsu is a form of holistic bodywork that was originally developed in Japan as therapy to promote health and wellbeing.

What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu, which translates as ‘finger pressure’ is a widely practiced form of bodywork that was originally developed in Japan as a therapy to promote health and wellbeing. It is now taught and practiced throughout many countries.

Shiatsu is different to a ‘western style massage’ as it works along the meridian pathways, acupressure points and uses the framework of Oriental Medicine theory to plan and guide the treatment for the individual. The holistic nature of Oriental Medicine theory takes into consideration the rhythms, seasons and cycles of life, the balance of Yin and Yang and the Five Phase System. Each meridian connects with an organ system to support the overall body, mind and spirit of a person.

Shiatsu helps to support healthy circulation throughout the body, reducing muscle tension and aiding in relaxation. It promotes a parasympathetic state to assist wellbeing.

Each shiatsu session is unique, as it is tailored to the individual, and any presenting conditions or symptoms, at that particular time.

Shiatsu practitioners may incorporate different techniques and styles based on their training and traditions. It is recommended to work with a practitioner who has accredited qualifications in Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies.

Research into the efficacy of shiatsu from a western medicine model is beginning to grow. The Shiatsu Therapy Association of Australia has compiled and updates research studies here.


What to expect?

Shiatsu is usually given on a futon on the floor (occasionally a low table).

The client remains clothed and it is recommended to wear loose comfy clothing to your session.

The pressure can be light or firm, with techniques tailored to the individual and presenting condition (shiatsu should not be painful!). The practitioner may use their thumbs, hands, feet and knees throughout the treatment.

The practitioner may hold acu-points and incorporate gentle stretches and rotations. They may also discuss using moxabustion, cupping or other techniques where appropriate.

Assessment skills are often used to help determine the treatment session. This can include asking some questions at the beginning, along with feeling the wrist pulse and hara (abdomen) palpation.

Clients often comment on how relaxed they feel at the end of their session. Where possible, allowing some quiet time and space for yourself after can be beneficial.

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