Shiatsu is a type of physical therapy aimed at supporting and strengthening the body’s natural ability to heal and balance itself. It originated from Japan and includes traditional Chinese medicine practices, as well as some influences from Western therapies. A Shiatsu practitioner uses touch, pressure, and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and balance its energy flow. Learn about the benefits of Shiatsu massage and how this relaxing experience can alleviate stress and illness.

Principles of Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu literally means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese. While the use of physical pressure and stretches reduce muscular tension and loosen stiff joints, this is unlike an ordinary massage. The principal aim of Shiatsu is not to work on muscles and joints, but on the overall energy system of the client. In this way, it addresses the whole person: the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual aspects of being.

One fundamental concept of Chinese/Japanese medicine is Qi (pronounced “chee”). This is the vital energy that governs all bodily functions. Throughout the body, Qi flows in specific pathways called meridians. When Qi is abundant and unobstructed, a person is healthy and vibrant. When the Qi is deficient, out of balance, or obstructed, symptoms may arise.

Shiatsu employs a variety of manual techniques, including pressure, kneading, tapping, and stretching, to access the vital Qi of the body. There are techniques to address deficient Qi, as well as to disperse excess energy. The goal of Shiatsu is to stimulate and harmonize the flow of Qi throughout the body. Moreover, Shiatsu works to alleviate conditions, restore balance, and promote overall good health.

Benefits of Shiatsu Massage

By correcting a person’s vital energy, Shiatsu addresses a wide range of conditions, from pain, to body system disfunction, to stress, and disease.

Headache relief

Shiatsu massage is helpful for headache and migraine relief. Massaging specific reflexology points on the head opens energy meridians. The techniques are simple enough to be performed on oneself. Next time you have a headache, skip the painkillers and try some basic Shiatsu maneuvers instead.

Pain Relief  

One study showed a decrease in perceived pain, improved sleep quality, and an overall decrease in symptoms of fibromyalgia patients who received regular Shiatsu massage treatments. In another study, patients suffering from various musculoskeletal issues and autoimmune diseases reported improvement with Shiatsu. These range from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, migraines, and other skeletal and neurological deficiencies.

Improved Sleep Quality

Shiatsu also improves sleep quality. Patients saw an improvement in sleep latency (time it takes to fall asleep). Likewise patience also noted improved sleep duration (time spent in uninterrupted sleep).

Improved Mood

Physical touch releases hormones in your body that create feelings of connection, thereby diminishing feelings of loneliness and depression. Furthermore, the grounding and balancing of the physical  body produces a sense of calm, joy, and self-confidence. 


Stress causes the vital energy of your body to become constricted and blocked. This often results in pain, discomfort, and weakened immunity. Shiatsu massage releases tension while also unblocking energy channels. Thus, it has the ability to melt away accumulated stress and tension, while giving a boost of energy at the same time.


Stress and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. Stress is a physiological and emotional response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to perceived stress. When stress is prolonged and becomes chronic, anxiety results. In the same way that Shiatsu opens pathways to relieve stress, it also decreases anxiety.

Shiatsu Foot Massage

According to the theory of reflexology, our feet contain numerous nerve endings that correspond to organs in our bodies. Massaging these pressure points stimulates body systems and opens the flow of energy. Additionally, massaging the feet increases circulation and can reduce edema and stabilize blood pressure.

So if you are unable to go get a full body Shiatsu massage, consider a Shiatsu foot massage. You can even treat yourself to a deep tissue Shiatsu massage from the comfort of your own home with this trūMedic Shiatsu Foot Massager!

Additional reference

How about you? What are your favorite methods of releasing stress and pain? Comment below and join the discussion.

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