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This article was medically reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine.
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Shiatsu massage is an ancient Japanese healing method. Because of its name – “shi” (finger) and “atsu” (pressure) – it is often referred to as a form of acupressure.
Incorporating Massage Therapy Into Your Care Plan
Medical term: Acupressure is a type of massage therapy that applies pressure by pressing and rubbing specific points on the body.
But Shiatsu massage involves more than acupressure. It also includes stretching and kneading techniques to increase range of motion in the joints.
Shiatsu is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is a very different approach to bodywork than Swedish or Western massage, although both can help relax the body and mind, says Juliet Maris, LMT, an alignment therapist and yoga instructor with a private practice. .
Here’s what to expect during a Shiatsu massage and how it can benefit people of all ages and fitness levels.
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“Different protocols are used depending on what’s going on with each individual, so the order may vary,” Maris said.
Depending on your physical constitution and general energy level, the therapist will use a variety of techniques including “gentle stretching, holding, pressing with the palms, thumbs, fingers, elbows, and knees, and when appropriate, more dynamic rotations and stretches,” said Kumiko Kanayama. , founder of Five Lights Center of Shiatsu Studies.
“Open communication between practitioner and client is helpful in this case,” he said. “There are areas of more intensity, but in general [Shiatsu] feels like a dance between two people. Like all massages, the client wants to be able to relax and breathe through the work.”
Note: Kanayama, who calls Shiatsu “energy medicine”, trained under his uncle, Ohashi, a Shiatsu pioneer who helped popularize the practice in the US. According to his teachings, the nurturing touch of Shiatsu cultivates “Ki energy” (“Qi” in Chinese).
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Shiatsu can cause soreness after the massage for some people, but it should subside within 24-48 hours. If the intensity of the massage reaches the point where the client holds their breath or tenses up, Maris says it serves no purpose. A typical Shiatsu session is approximately 60-90 minutes.
One small 2015 study found Shiatsu can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine, which can help reduce anxiety.
The number and quality of published studies on Shiatsu massage are limited, but here are some of the benefits that researchers have found so far:
However, during the pandemic and various other reasons including financial or location, scheduling live sessions may not be possible.
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Fortunately, there are a variety of home massagers available for purchase that focus on different parts of the body. These include:
Experts say that professional Shiatsu massage has a major advantage over what you can buy: Human practitioners transfer feelings of healing and energy through their presence and unique personal touch.
“Masseurs have no passion or emotion,” Kanayama said. “Shiatsu transmits happy, healthy, balanced energy from the practitioner to the recipient.”
In other words, the basic vibrations and movements offered by machines cannot reproduce the social and compassionate experiences provided through human touch, or the expertise of a trained massage therapist.
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Although electronic massage is more convenient and cheaper than personal massage, there is no dialogue with home massage. In addition, research has found that human touch has soothing and stress-reducing benefits.
A trained practitioner can give Shiatsu massage to the majority of healthy people, but there are some people who need special care.
For example, a pregnant person may find it difficult to sleep, Maris says, but a wise practitioner can make modifications with bolsters or having the client sit on their side.
Note: One small study in 2005 found that Shiatsu massage can help induce labor. Therefore, those with high-risk pregnancies, history of miscarriage, or anyone undergoing IVF should not participate.
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In addition, people with limited range of motion, those who have recently undergone surgery, have a weak immune system, and cancer patients should be careful. Practitioners should only apply gentle pressure and avoid touching sensitive areas, such as near the location of the tumor.
Most countries require a license for Shiatsu, but there are some exceptions, such as when the client is fully clothed and the practice focuses on energy work, using only a very gentle touch similar to Reiki, another Japanese massage technique, against the strong physical body. The difference between Shiatsu and Western massage is less about pressure and more about technique and environment.
Shiatsu massage is an ancient Japanese healing practice and complementary mind-body treatment based on Traditional Chinese Medicine that promotes relaxation and well-being.
“The idea is to bring the body back into balance. Energy is given to kyo and jitsu,” Maris said.
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Some of the benefits of Shiatsu may include reduced anxiety levels, reduced pain, better sleep, and chronic pain relief.
People who are pregnant, very ill, or have other health symptoms, such as fever, should avoid Shiatsu massage.
While an at-home massage can help relieve tension, experts agree that a professional massage is a more relaxing, fulfilling, and satisfying experience. “Massage from a person is always better than massage from a machine,” says Maris.
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This article was co-written by Marty Morales. Marty Morales is a Professional Massage Therapist and Founder and Owner of The Morales Method, a manual therapy and body conditioning business based in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Los Angeles, California. Marty has over 16 years of massage therapy experience and over 13 years of experience teaching others about massage therapy best practices. Marty has over 10,000 hours of personal practice logged and is a Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner, CMT. He holds an MBA in Finance from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.
There are 13 references cited in this article, and they can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Our hands take a beating every day, and can carry a surprising amount of tension. A hand massage can be a quick and beneficial way to relieve stress and tension in someone’s hands, and leave them feeling relaxed and refreshed. A hand massage is a great way to relax before bed, or to give someone else’s hands (or your own!) a much-needed break in the middle of a long workday.
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This article was co-written by Marty Morales. Marty Morales is a Professional Massage Therapist and Founder and Owner of The Morales Method, a manual therapy and body conditioning business based in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Los Angeles, California. Marty has over 16 years of massage therapy experience and over 13 years of experience teaching others about massage therapy best practices. Marty has over 10,000 hours of personal practice logged and is a Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner, CMT. He holds an MBA in Finance from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. This article has been viewed 324,223 times.
To massage someone’s hand, you need to create a relaxing environment first. Try sitting across from someone, and ask them to put their hands on a towel. Rub the massage lotion or oil into your hands in long strokes, working from your fingertips to your wrists. You should also massage each individual finger and the space between each finger at the back of the hand. Use your