Shiatsu, Japanese ‘finger pressure’ therapy, is a natural healing discipline springing from the same ancient oriental principles as Acupuncture.
What can Shiatsu treat?
Practitioners claims that Shiatsu can treat a wide range of conditions including:
- musculo-skeletal problems, particularly lower back and neck problems
- aches and pains
Like acupuncture, Shiatsu works by stimulating the body’s vital energy flow in order to promote good health. However, unlike acupuncture, the Shiatsu practitioner uses thumbs and fingers, elbows and even knees and feet to apply pressure and stretching to the energy lines, known as ‘meridians’.
Shiatsu works on the principle that disease is caused by a disturbance in the flow of energy through the body. However deep the problem, it manifests itself on the surface of the body via tributaries of each meridian or energy line.
Physically, Shiatsu has the effect of stimulating the circulation, working on nervous system, helping to release toxins and deep-seated tension from the muscles and stimulating the hormone system.
On a more subtle level, Shiatsu allows the receiver to relax deeply and get in touch with his/her own body’s healing abilities. Treatment usually leaves a feeling of calmness and well being, of being more in touch with one’s body and oneself.
Consultation and treatment
The first consultation will last about an hour and a half; the practitioner will begin by taking a case history and by asking about lifestyle, medical history and symptoms. He or she will also observe posture, voice and general condition.
You will then be asked to remove your shoes and lie down while the practitioner gently palpates the abdomen to assess energy flow in the meridians.
Treatment will then begin with the practitioner stretching, squeezing and turning parts of your body to correct structural imbalances and release energy blockages. Sometimes, the first benefits of Shiatsu treatment to occur do not address the main complaint but overall health. For example, the body’s eliminative functions may have to be improved before specific pain can be relieved.
The duration and frequency of treatment will vary from person to person as will the total number of sessions.
Shiatsu affects all levels of being, the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Treatment is attuned to the individual’s personal development of total health and character. The practitioner may give advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle, encouraging self-understanding and greater independence in health matters.
Costs range from £20 to £60, depending on location.
Do-in, which means ‘self-stimulation’, is a form of self-help Shiatsu and daily practice can help to tone skin and muscles, improve circulation and flexibility, ease aches and pains and encourage mental clarity and emotional stability. Patients receiving Shiatsu often learn do-in without realising it.
Your Shiatsu practitioner can teach you exercises to encourage the flow of energy, including controlled breathing, meditation, stretching, percussion or tapping and applying pressure to acupoints.
Your practitioner may also give you advice about lifestyle and dietary changes.
How to find a practitioner
Check that the therapist is a Member of the Register of the Shiatsu Society. They will have the initials MRSS after their names, have all achieved an approved standard of training as established by the Shiatsu Society Assessment Panel and are bound by the Code of Ethics of the Shiatsu Society. All Registered Practitioners have Professional Indemnity Insurance.
The technique itself is very safe although older people may find it a problem to lie down on the floor. However, Shiatsu is not commonly used on those with osteoporosis. Women clients should also advise their practitioners if there is a chance of their being pregnant.
It is best not to eat heavy meals , drink alcohol or take excessively hot baths on the day of treatment. Before the first consultation, have details of current medical diagnosis and any medication you may be taking ready for your Shiatsu practitioner.