Shiatsu could be considered the baby of the Traditional East Asian Medicine modalities. It wasn’t developed until the early part of the 20th century. The originator was Tamai Tempaku. His text Shiatsu Ho was published in 1919. In the Taisho Period (1911-1925) Shiatsu was defined for the first time under the Shiatsu Law. The word shiatsu translates to “finger pressure”. This is a massage delivered via compression. It uses a rhythmic pressure that is so relaxing it affects us down to the parasympathetic nervous system. This means that our internal organs actually relax, allowing for better blood and energy circulation.
- The client is clothed or covered with a towel.
- No oil or other mediums are used.
- Traditionally it is delivered on a mat on the floor, or a low table.
- Shiatsu works on the energetic (Ki/Qi) system of the body rather than the musculoskeletal system.
What are the physiological effects of Shiatsu?
The physiological effects of Shiatsu on the body from a Western medical perspective include :
- secretion of endorphins and other neural responses
- release of histamines ( dilates blood vessels ) and other cellular secretions
- circulation is improved, leading to better delivery of nutrients, oxygen, and arterial blood components.
- better circulation has a secondary effect of improved filtration and elimination of carbon dioxide, metabolites, and toxins.
- softening, relaxation, and increased flexibility of muscle and connective tissues.
- encourages the body through the phases involved in rehabilitation, restoration, and normalisation of anatomical and physiological function and ability. Psychological benefits occur in response to therapy with secondary effects that influence sensation and pain perception.
The physiological effects of Shiatsu on the body from a Eastern medical perspective include :
- emphasises correction and maintenance of bone, joint, tendon, and muscle structure, and the meridians, whose malfunctioning distorts the body’s energy and autonomic nervous system causing disease.
- creates a strong and unimpeded flow of Ki, by rebalancing the Ki in the meridians, moving stagnant Ki, and increasing the total Ki of the person.
- moves stagnant blood in the vessels and organs.
- tonifies kyo meridians and areas of the body.
- disperses jitsu meridians and areas of the body.
- calms and regulates the emotions of the person.
The essence of Shiatsu is one of communication through touch. This cannot be achieved by technical skill alone. The practitioner needs to develop intuition, sensitivity of touch, empathy, and an understanding of the body, mind, and spirit connection that lies at the heart of Traditional East Asian Medicine.