Developed in Japan, shiatsu massage uses finger pressure to stimulate various systems in the body. Based on traditional Chinese medicine, shiatsu massage addresses the flow of energy in the body. Based on the belief that illness results from an imbalance in this flow of energy, shiatsu practitioners use their fingers and palms to place pressure on energy pathways into the body. By opening these pathways, known as meridians, shiatsu massage improves one’s health and restores the balance of energy necessary for physical health. Western scientists have found that shiatsu massage can address overactivity in the sympathetic nervous system, relieve stress, relax the muscles, and improve circulation.
Shiatsu massage involves the application of pressure in a rhythmic manner primarily using the pads of the fingers. Since applied pressure does not always involve the palm, shiatsu massage feels more localized than other types of massage therapy. The exact meridians addressed depend on the needs of the client. Some pressure points may prove slightly tender, and most individuals describe the resulting sensation as a “good pain.” Shiatsu does not involve oils so individuals may remain clothed during the massage.