What is Shiatsu?front_page_shiatsu

Shiatsu is a traditional form of Japanese bodywork. Gentle manipulation and acu-pressure are used to release tensions held within the body. Clients find Shiatsu  to be an extremely relaxing therapy since it combines the benefits of massage with the relaxing and remedial effects of pressure points. Often called “acupuncture without needles”, this therapy also draws on the millenia old wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Unlike other massage treatments,  the client remains fully clothed while lying on a comfortable futon at floor level. (Seated shiatsu is also possible for those who find a horizontal position difficult).

In a research paper published in 1998 (Harris and Pooley), the most common conditions  presenting for treatment are muscular-skeletal and psychological  (more specifically neck/shoulder and lower-back pain, depression, stress and anxiety).  The leaning pressure used has been scientifically proved to release enkephalins or “happy hormones” from the brain; these in turn promote deeper relaxation. During treatment, you may sense a "switch" as your nervous system moves from a habitual fight/flight response into a more meditative state in which your body has a chance to let go, release tension and rebalance naturally.

Click here to view shiatsu research articles.


What can I expect from a session?

On your first visit you may be asked to fill in a form to enable your practitioner to assess your case in the light of Western and Oriental medicine. There is always a preliminary chat before each treatment to assess your current state-of-being. Diagnoses to decide on the treatment are made through a combination of talking, observation and the “listening hands” of the practitioner.

A typical session involves stretches, gentle manipulation of joints and deep acupressure using the thumbs but feet, elbows and palms can also be used during a session. Particular pressure points and meridians are diagnosed that connect with specific organs, physiological systems and emotions relevant to the individual client. Work on these zones clears blockages and strengthens weak areas, allowing the body’s ki (energy) to flow, thereby stimulating the natural healing processes of the body and increasing vitality.

Attention is paid to the whole body including the arms, legs and head. You may be stretched, rubbed and elbows, fingers and even knees are used in the session. The treatment is usually gentle, although effects can sometimes be felt more strongly on acu-pressure points.


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Interesting facts

1. Shiatsu roughly translates from Japanese as “finger pressure”
2. Shiatsu has been officially recognised as a mainstream therapy by the Japanese government since 1964
3. Recent research [The Impact of Delivering Shiatsu in a General Practice (2003)] indicates that the main impact of the Shiatsu clinic on the general practice was that GP consultations with referred patients significantly reduced in terms of duration and frequency and involved fewer prescriptions for medication.