Shiatsu has its origins thousands of years ago in Japan and was formalized into its modern form over a hundred years ago. It draws on much of traditional Chinese knowledge for its theoretical base, using the same meridians and points as in acupuncture. Shiatsu uses kneading, pressing, soothing, tapping, and stretching techniques and is performed without oils through light, comfortable clothing. It can be used to treat a wide range of internal, musculoskeletal, and mental health or emotional conditions.

“Shiatsu” translates as “finger pressure.” There are different styles of Shiatsu, all of which have roots in one of three systems that developed in Japan in the early 1900s as a result of a resurgence of Japan’s traditional medical therapies, including acupuncture and anma massage. Shiatsu today integrates traditional Japanese manual therapies with modern western medical knowledge. 

Shiatsu Massage Treatments

Qi or vital body energy flows in specific pathways called meridians. Your Shiatsu therapist accesses the Qi through points along the meridians called Vital Points. Health is present when there is abundant Qi in the meridians and the flow is unobstructed. When the Qi becomes deficient or out of balance, or the flow is obstructed, symptoms arise. Seemingly minor signs emerge, such as regular colds and flus, weekly or daily headaches, body aches and muscular pain, or digestive difficulties. These are indications of the imbalance of Qi. Shiatsu stimulates and harmonizes the flow of Qi throughout the body.

Shiatsu works on the physical body, muscles, joints, blood, as well as the points and meridians of acupuncture. Massage strokes similar to kneading are part of shiatsu.  The pressure varies according to the person, the area of the body, and the purpose of treatment. Shiatsu can be very deep to help ease physical tensions, or it can be very light and soothing.  The effect may be stimulating and invigorating or calming and sedative, depending on the goal of the session.Sometimes, stretches and movement are involved, so it can feel like Thai massage or having yoga done to your body.  Shiatsu treatments can be combined with Essential Oils.

Chronic Conditions Treated with Shiatsu

Shiatsu can reduce muscle stiffness, stimulate the skin, aid digestion, and influence the nervous system. It is used to treat a wide range of chronic conditions, such as:

  • Headaches
  • PMS
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fatigue,
  • Insomnia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Muskuloskeletal pain, including low back, neck, and joint pain

What to Expect in a Shiatsu Session

At the beginning of the session, Abigail will determine the patterns of imbalance that may be present. It is important to assess the state of the Qi (vital body energy) in order to provide the most effective therapeutic session. Abigail is trained to recognize patterns of disharmony in the body, even prior to physical signs appearing. Simple yet subtle changes may indicate an imbalance that, left alone, could progress to a point where symptoms appear. Balance can be restored with proper assessment and regular Shiatsu sessions. Abigail will design a plan that will give you the most therapeutic benefit according to your individual needs and goals.

Shiatsu involves uses of manual techniques, such as pressure, kneading, soothing, tapping, and stretching to access the vital Qi of the body. In the case where your energy is low or deficient, Abigail uses specific techniques to enhance and vitalize the Qi. When you are over-stressed, wound-up, or anxious, Abigail employs techniques to disperse the “excess” energy. In this way, the Qi is regulated. Shiatsu works to alleviate conditions, restore balance, and promote health.

A regular maintenance program of Shiatsu is an excellent way to maintain wellness and improve vitality. This schedule will vary for each person. One Shiatsu session per month may work well to maintain balance for some. But for others, a high-stress job, family demands, an overactive lifestyle, lack of exercise, or other factors may require Shiatsu sessions on a more regular basis.

Contact Abigail Ballaban

Contact Abigail at (503) 389-8938 for more information on how shiatsu massage treatment can help your specific condition. Visit Abigail’s blog to read the articles she selected for her patients about shiatsu.