The term 'shiastu' has been based on two Japanese words - 'shi', meaning finger, and 'atsu', meaning pressure. As the very name suggests, shiatsu massage is basically a traditional hands-on therapy, which originated in Japan. The massage therapy aims at treating the common psychological and physical problems faced by people, by applying slight force on the pressure points. In this context, it can also be considered as the Japanese counterpart of 'acupressure', which is popular in China. The massage therapy can help treat depression, anxiety, nausea, stiffness, headaches, arthritis, cramps, and pulled muscles.
Shiatsu massage therapy is based on two main schools of thought - one of them is based on western anatomical and physiological theory, while the other finds its basis in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In either of the cases, it is regulated as a licensed medical therapy in Japan, coming under the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In other areas of the world, Shiatsu practitioners have set up various governing bodies, which regulate its practices. Shiatsu is regarded as an evolving massage therapy, with aspects of Japanese massage traditions, Chinese Medicine practice, and "Western" anatomy and physiology.
Shiatsu Massage Therapy
Shiatsu massage therapy starts with a diagnosis by the masseuse, through which he ascertains your body parts where the chi flows healthily and also makes a note of the ones where it gets obstructed. Thereafter, he enquires about your existing health problems, if any. Following this, you undergo a light massage, in order to let the masseuse explore your stiff as well as tender pressure points, which lie along fourteen meridians running the length of your body. After your problem areas have been diagnosed, he applies gentle, but firm pressure on your knuckles, thumbs, palms, toes, feet, knees, and elbows, using his fingers.
In shiatsu massage, there are two main meridians - the Governor along your back, and the Conception down your front - which are considered essential. This is because these two meridians draw chi through the torso. The other meridians in the body are stomach, small and large intestine, spleen/pancreas, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, bladder, heart, lungs, sex, and triple heater. These meridians do not exert direct control over the organs; rather they are connected with the function and symbolism of each organ. They are present along the symmetric halves of the body, occurring in mirrored pairs.
What To Do & Expect
- When you go for an appointment with a practitioner of shiatsu massage, make sure to be dressed in thin, loose-fitting, and comfortable clothing, such as cotton or linen.
- In case you are receiving westernized medical treatment as well, for any ailment, do mention the same to the practitioner, before undergoing any session of shiatsu massage.
- Prepare yourself for lying on the floor, beaded mat, or a futon, while going through a massage session. At the same time, try to relax your muscles before getting the massage.
- Before you receive the massage, be ready to tell the shiatsu masseuse the specific areas of your body, which you would like him to work on.
- If you are suffering from the problem of headaches, try to keep a track of when they occur - in the morning, after eating spicy food, reading for a long time, or doing vigorous exercise. Tell the same to your masseuse.