What is Shiatsu and why is it so good for you?


The word 'Shiatsu" means "finger pressure" in Japanese. #Shiatsu is a traditional Japanese style of massage/bodywork, except, it is not technically a "#massage." To us westerners who love to get a good rub down with some warm oil under the comfort of soft sheets and pillows and relaxing music, shiatsu is quite different. No oil is used and the receiver is fully clothed and lies on a mat or on a wide massage table. In Shiatsu, as in other types of bodywork, the practitioner uses their 'hara' or the centre of the abdomen where all of their energy lies. By using their hara, the practitioner applies the pressure needed to the receiver without straining or hurting their own body which in Shiatsu is very important in the exchange of energy between them and the receiver.

Sensing Shifts Most people develop muscle knots through the rigours of everyday life. The muscle-skin layer known as #fascia has been held taut - like holding a sheet open and then dropping a stone in it. The knot has generated aching elsewhere in the body - in areas that seem unrelated to the origin, which you sense as uncomfortable tightness and pulling where you think there shouldn't be any pulling! Shiatsu is a fantastic tool which I believe every therapist should have on hand to address this. Using the therapists centre of gravity more precisely than ordinary massage techniques provides for ample opportunity to read the clients energy and sense the micro-shifts in a clients tissue. We can literally feel the muscles releasing and relaxing with this technique.

Although its place in western massage culture can fluctuate with somewhat superficial ideas about what is 'trending' the technique has ancient roots and has existed in its more modern form for 100 years. Tried and Tested This is a tried and tested technique which for some people is highly relaxing; I have put people to sleep within seconds of using it. The effect of shiatsu is immediate, and often has a psychologically 'melting' effect as the tension dissolves. Although some may find the technique initially uncomfortable the pressure is always performed to match the clients pain tolerance. When performed as precisely as I always do in my #Cochrane home business (Heartland Massage Therapy) some clients love the sensation and the benefits of the technique so much they book anywhere between 6 to 10 extra shiatsu sessions, and sometimes alternate with massage treatments. Either way a one-off treatment has to be tried to see if it is something you respond to well. I also add my own version of Shiatsu Massage, which is a less intense way of introducing the technique to more westernized expectations and sensibilities around massage. I have learned to listen closely and adapt over the years and understand exactly what peoples muscles need and respond to.

Emotional Release

Whether it is emotional pain or stress that is being held in the shoulders, or upper to mid back, or aching caused by using the same muscle groups in your work place, shiatsu can be an emotional experience. Once that tension is released (in the way only Shiatsu can release it), the emotional reaction evokes an important self reflexive question: 'Why did I hold onto that tension for so long?!'

Sometimes I incorporate shiatsu techniques into a regular deep-tissue massage because I sense the clients tissue really needs it. Each time I do this I find I was right, the client gets off the table and says something like: "Wow, what was that deep technique you used? I could really feel something shift!"


This sort of gratifying comment is indicative of the client having released a lot of old stored energy which was causing a distressing level of tension. That great reinvigorated feeling you sense is also the result of literally now being able to breathe oxygen into muscle tissue that had been blocked by this tension. I take great care to observe these personal processes and respect them whole-heartedly with professionalism and confidence. This meticulousness is what makes me stand out as a therapist - the compassion I have for my clients combined with my 20+ years of experience. So now you know the cure for what ails you, how can you resist trying it out at my home studio Heartland Massage Therapy, in Cochrane? Hope to see you soon - Denise Williams RMT

As a therapist it is always a joy to mix techniques, after 20 years of experience I can sense the difference it makes to each client on an individual basis.


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