"Shiatsu" is a Japanese word meaning "finger pressure".  It is a "hands-on" therapy used both as a compliment to conventional medicine and as a preventative / alternative therapy.  Shiatsu is similar to acupuncture, but uses finger pressure instead of needles.  Its name comes from two Japanese words -- "shi" or finger and "atsu" or pressure.

"Shiatsu technique refers to the use of fingers and palms of one's hands to apply pressure to particular sections on the surface of the body for the purpose of correcting the imbalances of the body, and for maintaining and promoting health.  It is also a method contributing to the healing of specific illnesses."

- From "The Theory and Practice of Shiatsu" published by the Ministry of Health in Japan , in 1957.

Shiatsu is a traditional form of Asian bodywork designed to enhance and restore health.  Through the application of pressure and stretching techniques shiatsu relieves muscle tension, eases joint stiffness and realigns the structure of the body.  Pressure along energy pathways of the body moves stagnant energy, clears energy blocks and brings the body into balance. Shiatsu works on a physical, emotional and spiritual plane. Treatment is deeply relaxing and has an overall calming effect, allowing the body the opportunity to heal itself. Regular Shiatsu sessions help to prevent the build up of stress in our daily lives.

What Happens During a Shiatsu Massage?

Shiatsu is performed through clothing.  The session takes place on a shiatsu mat at floor level or a massage chair or table. Please wear or bring loose, warm, comfortable clothing and socks.  Following a Shiatsu session people often say that they feel relaxed, calm, balanced and invigorated to take on life’s challenges.

Shiatsu practitio
ners perform Shiatsu by pressing with their thumbs, fingers and palms on meridians (specific points on the body's energy pathways) throughout the body to enhance the body’s natural healing ability and prevent the progression of disease.  They often use other techniques such as rocking, stretches and joint rotations.

Shiatsu treatment is holistic, addressing the whole body rather than focusing on the one area where symptoms are most obvious.

The effect of Shiatsu is based on an understanding of modern Anatomy and Physiology.  These points are effective in treating all body systems including the Integumentary, Muscular, Nervous, Circulatory, Skeletal, Endocrine, and Digestive systems.  They are applicable only to Shiatsu Therapy and are not related to ancient "Chinese Meridians" for Acupuncture, Moxibustion or Anma therapy.

The Japanese expression "Shindan Soku Chiryo", means "Diagnosis and Therapy Combined" and is the essence of Shiatsu.  The thumbs, fingers and palms of trained and experienced practitioners are sensitive enough to detect, on contact, irregularities in the skin, muscles or body temperature.  Shiatsu practitioners are able to locate abnormalities and ascertain their degree, as well as determining the condition of the organs.  When detecting abnormalities, practitioners apply Shiatsu as a treatment at the same time.  The amount of pressure and its tempo are gauged to apply the appropriate pressure for each patient - sometimes strong or soft - quick or slow. 

Conditions That Respond Well to Shiatsu:

Shiatsu will help your physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Results can take place over the next few weeks or more after your treatments and last your lifetime.  Here are some basic examples of conditions that may respond well to Shiatsu:

     stiff neck            digestive problems            muscle aches

    back pain            shoulder tension                low energy & fatigue

    joint pain             stress                                  menstrual problems

    insomnia           anxiety & depression        headaches & migraines


In early Chinese days, a doctor was paid to keep a person healthy.  The health care was basically preventive.  There are 5 types of treatment: acupuncture, medicines and herbs, curving with stones, moxa and anma (massage).  Shiatsu came from anma.  It was recommended for people living in the center of the country, near to the yellow river.  In this area the culture was most developed and people were doing more mental than physical work.  The same can be said about us.

The Japanese took many things from Chinese culture to change and develop. So they did with anma and acupuncture and developed it into "shiatsu".


Finger Pressure

 Shiatsu literally means finger pressure.  Natural body weight is used when pressure is applied on special points on the body.  Through this pressure the energy flowing in the meridians is influenced. This energy is called chi.


Chi by itself is invisible, but the way chi works can be seen in the body. 
When a wound is healing 'just by itself' it is the work of chi.  
Traditionally everything was seen as an expression of chi. 
Chi is the origin, the power of life
. When chi stagnates, the body becomes ill.  


Meridians are channels of chi. Sometimes they follow the same line as muscles or blood-vessels. The functions of the meridians is: 

  1. Bulletcontrol the movement in the body (blood, gas, air, water)

  2. Bulletconnect the arms, legs and head with the trunk

  3. Bulletcommunication from inside to the outside of the body (and from the outside to the inside) and from up to down (and from down to up)

  4. Bullet control the regulation of the organs.

There are twelve main meridians. Each meridian corresponds with an organ and is named after that specific organ. Triple heater however is an exception. This meridian corresponds with the relationship between a few organs.

 The meridian is not only connected to the organ, but also to the eastern concept of the function of that organ.  Large intestine, example, takes care of secretion. Emotionally it is related with loss, parting:  a collector can have problems like constipation.  Spending a lot of money also can affect the large intestine.