Shiatsu massage is a form of Japanese bodywork based on concepts of traditional Chinese medicine such as the use of qi meridians. Shiatsu massage uses acupressure to release tension, strengthen and support the natural ability of the body to balance and heal itself. This works on the whole person, not only on the physical body but also on the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of being.
Massage, together with herbalism and acupuncture, has been crucial part of the traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries. This was introduced in 6th century to Japan by a Buddhist monk. The Japanese refined and developed most of its methods to suit their own temperament, climate and physiology. Specifically, they developed manual healing as well as diagnostic arts, altering special techniques of abdominal treatment, diagnosis and massage that are being used in the practice of shiatsu today. Through the years, however, the practice of massage has been separated from medicine and became more associated with pleasure and relaxation. Some practitioners have been concerned with preserving massage and the associated techniques as an accepted art of healing.
During the early part of 20th century, one of these practitioners, Tamai Tempaku, combined the latest Western sciences of physiology and anatomy and disciplines like chiropractic and physiotherapy to several older treatments’ method. Originally, he used the phrase shiatsu ryoho or finger pressure as a method of healing and was later on known as shiatsu ho or the finger pressure method. Simply known today as Shiatsu, this has been officially accepted by the Japanese Government as a therapy in 1964 that distinguished it from Western massage and the traditional Chinese massage.
The official definition given by the Japanese medical department of the Ministry of Welfare (Current Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) in December 1957 was:
“Shiatsu technique refers to the use of fingers and palm of one’s hand 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.”
This form of massage helps relieve constipation when performed on the abdominal area. the pulling and stretching of the massage loosens the muscles and relaxes the colon and intestines. It works the spasms and tension out of the muscles that eliminates muscle aches through pulling and rubbing the skin and muscles as well as by pressing on the acupressure points, thus releasing tension. This is a non-invasive therapy which helps in reducing anxiety, tension, depression and stress by leaving you calm and relaxed.
Migraines are the result of rapid narrowing and widening of the blood vessels in the head or brain that causes pain and irritation. Shiatsu can help in aiding migraines through relaxing the body and enhancing blood circulation and blood flow all over the body.
It can help people suffering from weakness and fatigue through restoring and maintaining the energy of the body. This can help stimulate circulate in the capillaries of the soft tissues of the skin. It also serves in stimulating the secretion of sebaceous glands and keeping the skin smooth and moist. This also helps in prevention of wrinkling and promotes skin resilience. The improved circulation of blood also helps in improving the glow and look of the skin.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the chronic inflammation of the tissue of the body, attacking the joint linings. Pressure from massage can be applied to the feet, hands or areas affected by arthritis. This can also help limber muscles, giving muscles nutrition through improved circulation and helps in reducing muscular pain.
The actual Shiatsu treatment is a kind of conversation between the practitioner and the energies in your body. The therapist will move around you, sometimes kneeling, sometimes standing, using their own body weight, and their own ki – as well as applying varying degrees of pressure with fingers, thumbs, palms, elbows, even feet, in order to unblock excesses of ki or stimulate areas that are lacking.
It’s advisable to wear loose, comfortable clothes when going for treatment, which will be carried on a mat or futon on the floor, or on a treatment table. Some practitioners will ask for a medical history, others will rely on what they can see, hear and feel for themselves, when they touch you, on the understanding that your body will tell its own story.
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