Shiatsu MassageDevin Briggs RMT and Shiatsu Therapist


Shiatsu is traditionally a Japanese form of therapy. The word itself (Shiatsu) refers to “finger pressure” which is akin to finger pressure massage.

Similar to Chinese Medicine (TMC), Shiatsu follows and works with the holistic pathways in the body – unlike traditional allopathic medicine. The flow of energy or qi (pronounced ‘chee’) plays a prominent role in the delivery of this therapy. One of the premises of Chinese medicine is the end result of illness stemming from an imbalance in the natural flow of energy.

A Shiatsu practitioner follows the meridians of the body (describing energetic pathways). A therapist then employs their fingers and the palm of their hand to direct and apply pressure; all in an attempt to improve the flow of energy (qi).

Shiatsu affects the Sympathetic Nervous System which is one of two divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Shiatsu massage has shown to calm this system when it’s overactive, which in turn alleviates stiff muscles, reduces stress and improves the flow of circulation.

How Does Shiatsu Feel When Performed?

A Shiatsu treatment involves the use of pressure by the therapist from their fingers, thumbs and the palm which may be employed all together to form a continuous progression of movement.

Compared to conventual or other types of massage, the use of localized pressure is applied to particular points on the body. In this instance, the finger pads are employed rather than the entire hand palm. These points are typically tender which are often described as a good pain by the recipient.

During the treatment procedure, if you experience too much discomfort or any pain, inform the therapist and they will adjust the pressure until it is satisfactory. Fortunately, the response from most people experiencing Shiatsu massage, relay that they find it equally as relaxing as other forms of massage therapy.

What is the Procedure of a Shiatsu Treatment?

A Shiatsu treatment is performed either on the floor or on a low massage table.

Main and subtle differences between Shiatsu and various other forms of massage include the following:

  • No massage oil is used
  • The patient remains clothed
  • Generally asked to bring or wear comfortable clothing

Shiatsu Benefits

Shiatsu has shown to help a wide range of conditions and pain such as the following examples:

  1. Relieves Back Pain
  2. Promotes Relaxation
  3. Alleviates Headaches
  4. Helps with Premenstrual Syndrome
  5. Fatigue
  6. Poor Circulation
  7. Lymphatic Congestion
  8. Helps Lymphatic drainage
  9. Lessens Anxiety
  10. Promotes better sleep – alleviates insomnia
  11. Application for Neck and Shoulder Pain
  12. Helps with Arthritic pain
  13. Speeds Recovery from Injuries
  14. Assists Constipation
  15. Reduces Stress
  16. Assists Poor Digestion

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How Painful is Shiatsu?
Q. Can Shiatsu be similar to a deep tissue massage?
Q. Can I remained clothed during my Shiatsu treatment?
Q. What tools (if any) or needles are used in a Shiatsu treatment?
Q. Can a Shiatsu treatment include the feet?

Q. How Painful is Shiatsu?

A. Depending on the patient’s condition, the Shiatsu practitioner will employ a certain amount of tolerable pressure according to the comfort level of the person being treated. For example, there may be knotted areas that when pressure is applied can either feel pain like or virtually a non-sensitive sensation. People typically recognize the need for such areas to be worked on and refer to it as a ‘comfortable pain’. The patients comfort level is always taken into account during the procedure. The goal of the practitioner is to employ the use of pressure just before the pain stage. (They want the experience to be relaxing and enjoyable, yet therapeutic).

Q. Can Shiatsu be similar to a deep tissue massage?

A. These therapies are Not the same. Shiatsu and Deep Tissue Massage involve different manual procedures. Shiatsu is conducted with the use the hand and fingers, whereas Deep Tissue Massage involve the use of forearms, elbows, fingers and the application of oil in a stroking motion. Shiatsu is applied using perpendicular pressure in the direction of the muscle; which lessens the problem of hurting the muscle fibers or internal tissues. Deep muscles are addressed by both procedures to reduce tension, however the methods employed are different.

Q. Can I wear clothes during a Shiatsu session?

A. Clothing is recommended during a Shiatsu treatment. Also there is no massage oil being used. The suggestion is to wear light material clothing when having a treatment. Although, Shiatsu can be performed on the skin or on top of a sheet.

Q. What tools (if any) or needles are used in a Shiatsu treatment?

A. There are no tools or apparatuses in a Shiatsu treatment – only the fingers and hands.

Q. Can a Shiatsu treatment include the feet?

A. Defiantly, the foot also has Shiatsu points. Beware though that the points employed by Reflexology on the hand and feet are completely different. Shiatsu has great application when applied below the knees (calves and feet) to treat leg fatigue.

Initial Client Visit

Commencing a Shiatsu treatment onto its completion, the therapist applies pressure using their fingers, thumbs and hand palm. The amount of pressure applied and the length of time held in certain areas, will be determined by the condition or symptom to be remedied and the different areas of the body being treated.

Suggestions for a more enjoyable and effective Shiatsu experience includes the following:

  1. Visit the washroom before entering the Shiatsu treatment room. Try not to drink 1 to 2 hours before time of treatment.
  2. Remove all jewelry, eyeglasses, wristwatch, belts and tight banded socks etc.
  3. During the session, the emphasis is on comfortable, loose, breathable clothing (thin material). Cotton is a far better choice over synthetic material.
  4. For patients who for one reason or another cannot bring or wear comfortable clothing; a sheet will be provided in the treatment room to cover the individual during a Shiatsu session.
  5. Only one request: Relax, Enjoy and Empty your Mind. For a more enjoyable experience, like other similar procedures, breathe out as the Shiatsu therapist induces pressure. Be One with the Experience. Enjoy!
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