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Shiatsu massage

By Dr. Alejandra Maratea, Prof. Anahi Franco

Shiatsu (shi = fingers, atsu = pressure) is a therapeutic Japanese massage that, through its pressures, stimulates the natural defenses of the body facilitating self-healing. It was developed in Japan in the early twentieth century and was officially recognized in 1930. Its origins date back to an ancient Chinese manipulation technique called ANMO, on which the first works were published between the third century BC. And II d.C.

Making a parallel with internal martial arts, those that use the IQ or vital energy of the body and not the muscular strength to perform the task. We can say that Shiatsu is an internal therapeutic art that also uses IQ directly through the arms Towards the working hands exerting certain pressures.The upper limbs are the means through which external movements are produced, but what is really important is the internal movement of energy that can not be seen.

Shiatsu in its foundations, combines knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology from the western part of the world with the philosophical physiological bases of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

These pressures are made on channels of energy that run all over the body surface and are called meridians. They are like nets that link different parts of the body to each other, and in certain places are deepened taking the energy they carry to the organic organs and systems linking, so to speak, the surface of the body with the interior of it. In this way Shiatsu, acting on the skin and muscles, can influence the functioning of the organs. By the type of pressures used, Shiatsu stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is the body’s relaxing system and activates the immune system by mobilizing the defenses and providing a sense of well-being.

Its therapeutic effects are:

  • It acts on the whole muscular osteo-articular system, because through its action on muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascias gives elasticity to the muscles releasing them from accumulated tensions and, therefore, corrects postures, improving the tone, re-aligning body segments , etc…
  • Vitalizes the skin because it improves the circulation due to its act on both the micro circulation and on the great circulation, favoring the return of venous blood to the heart. This is why its therapeutic effects are used in facial and body aesthetics because it diminishes the appearance of wrinkles.
  • It stimulates the circulation of body fluids, lymphatic and hormonal system and the elimination of toxins.
  • Regulates the functioning of internal organs.
  • Regulates the activity of the Autonomic Nervous System and promotes its relaxation.
  • It stimulates the self-regulation power of the organism helping to maintain a state of good health, preventing the appearance of various ailments, and collaborating in the therapy of different diseases.
  • Treats various disorders: insomnia, stress, agitation, nervousness, headaches, migraines, neck, back, waist pain, joint pains in general, muscular tensions, menstrual disorders, gastrointestinal, respiratory, urogenital, circulatory disorders.

How does Shiatsu work?

It involves exerting gentle pressure on very specific body points, emphasizing both sides of the spine. This pressure is coordinated with the patient’s breathing to achieve relaxation and let the energy flow, balancing the same in each organ of the body.

For the scholars of this subject, our body has more than 1,500 meridians that are in charge of transporting the energy to each corner of it.  When a person undergoes a disease process, this transportation is blocked causing the person to end up feeling worse.

For the Orientals, if the correct flow of energy is restored and the obstacles that blocked it are eliminated, the patient can heal and alleviate their ills.

To apply the shiatsu massage the palms of the hands are used to put pressure, along with the fingers, the elbows, the forearms, the knees or the feet. No creams or oils are used.

Stretches, rotations, frictions, bearings or percussions are used to mobilize energetically.

The shiatsu session lasts one hour and stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself naturally.

Indications of the Shiatsu:

This oriental massage is very effective in cases of:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Headaches
  • Chronic or acute pain
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle injury
  • Rheumatism
  • Digestive or circulatory disorders
  • Emotional imbalance
  • Respiratory problems
  • Constipation
  • Metabolic disorders

Other general benefits of Shiatsu

Apart from curing illness, this therapy also:

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Give clarity of thought
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves blood and lymphatic circulation
  • Facilitates childbirth
  • Helps improve

Contradictions of the Shiatsu

  • Fever
  • Recent fractures
  • Bleeding
  • Skin infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Osteoporosis
  • Varicose veins

A shiatsu session

The therapist and the patient are dressed in comfortable clothes, hopefully cotton. The patient does not need to undress and should remain on the floor or on a surface not very soft.

The place where it takes place should be a spacious room with good ventilation.

You can hear music or work in silence.

The person in charge of the session performs a corporal and energetic mobilization to recognize the causes of the problem. It exerts a moderate pressure with its fingers, just to provide heat to the zone.

It is common that after the session the therapist and the patient comment how they feel and the well-being will last the patient several hours or days.


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