There are a variety of different types of massage that go by a lot of strange names. The uninitiated may find themselves overwhelmed when trying to determine what type of massage to get. One of the more familiar types — at least when it comes to the name itself– is shiatsu. Unfortunately, many people’s knowledge may end at familiarity with the name.
The simplest way to define shiatsu is to translate the word. It is Japanese for ‘finger pressure’, though it is based on ancient Chinese principles of the meridian system. According to these principles, the body’s energy flows along defined lines. The energy is what enables the body and all of its individual parts to function properly. Pain and disease are considered to be the result of an imbalance or obstruction of the flow of chi.
“A master of shiatsu is acquainted with the meridian system and the organs and portions of the body that corresponds to each meridian. The meridian system is the same set of principles that apply to acupuncture, so shiatsu can be considered a similar– albeit less intimidating– treatment.“
While many practitioners and participants in shiatsu massage do hold to a belief in the oft-scorned principles of ancient Chinese medicine, even those who scoff may find benefit in the experience. The Chinese principles may have a level of mysticism in the language, but the benefits transcend belief in the techniques. For one, the pressure applied to muscles can help with muscle relaxation and increase the blood flow to muscles and tissue for healing. It is possible, according to some, that the form of massage can ultimately calm an overactive sympathetic nervous system, and thus help alleviate pain.
Unlike other forms of massage, shiatsu does not utilize oils and it is not necessary to undress. When going for a shiatsu massage, it is recommended to wear loose and comfortable clothing as the experience may include stretching as well as joint rotation. It is important to inform the masseuse of any health conditions you are experiencing, as it can be counter-productive– or even dangerous– to apply pressure or friction to tumors, hernias, inflamed skin or inflamed internal tissue. The massage will ultimately likely be performed on a mat on the floor, or on a low massage table.
It is important to communicate to the masseuse during the massage, as the localized pressure of the finger pads can sometimes result in too-intense pain. If this occurs, the masseuse needs to be aware so that he can adjust the pressure to a more comfortable level. However, it is the sort of pain that many say feels good, and if you can endure it, the resulting release of tension and increased blood flow ultimately help your pain.
Whether you believe shiatsu ultimately has healing abilities or not, many people do report the fact that it simply makes them feel good and can relieve pain. Ultimately that alone can be beneficial for the health, as feeling more relaxed and pain free can in turn lead to an increase in activity, exercise, and general well-being. Considering these potential benefits, it may be a good time for you to try a shiatsu massage today.