Shiatsu is a non-invasive, physical therapeutic treatment with both preventative and remedial effects, helping to contribute to overall wellbeing. It strengthens the body’s natural ability to balance and heal itself and works on all aspects of the whole person - physical, psychological, and emotional. It can therefore be used in the treatment of wide range of internal, musculoskeletal and emotional conditions.
The fundamental principle of Shiatsu is to harmonise the flow of our vital energy, or Qi (pronounced Chee), throughout the body. Based on the ancient Eastern Medicine practices used for millennia, when the Qi becomes deficient or out of balance, symptoms can arise. The Shiatsu therapist can feel if the Qi paths are obstructed in any way, and after a careful assessment, will design a treatment plan according to each client’s individual needs.
Working on specific points called Vital Points along the meridian pathways, Shiatsu is performed without oils through comfortable clothing, and the therapist uses a combination of manual techniques. Although shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese, in practice a practitioner uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques such as acupressure, kneading, stretching and tapping to adjust the alignment of the body and balance its energy flow.
Direct working on the body, as well as acupuncture and herbalism, was for centuries a fundamental part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, before being introduced to Japan by a Buddhist monk in the 6th century. TheJapanese refined many of its methods and evolved it to suit their own temperament and physiology. They developed their own manual diagnostic methods, and special techniques of abdominal diagnosis and pressure treatments, which are still used in Shiatsu. There are different styles of Shiatsu practiced today, all of which have roots in one of three systems developed in Japan in the early 1900s, as a result of a resurgence of Japan's traditional medical therapies, including acupuncture and anma massage.
In the early part of the 20th century, Tamai Tempaku incorporated the newer Western sciences of anatomy, and physiology and treatments such as physiotherapy and chiropractic into several older methods of Shiatsu, evolving the therapy further. Originally, he used the term Shiatsu Ryoho, or finger pressure healing, then Shiatsu-Ho or finger pressure method - now known simply as Shiatsu, which was officially recognised as a therapy by the Japanese Government in 1964.
Today, Shiatsu is a popular therapy worldwide for the maintenance of health and overall wellbeing.