Shiatsu massage is a therapy that's been around for about a century. Shiatsu massage differs from other types of massage in that pressure is applied with the pads of the fingers rather than the palms of the hands.
Application of pressure isn't limited to use of the fingers. The shiatsu practitioner also exerts pressure with their thumbs, forearms, elbows, feet and knees.
Shiatsu is more localized in its pressure than other kinds of massage, using joint manipulation and rotations, as well as stretches. Techniques involving heating, holding, rubbing and stretching may also be employed.
Your practitioner will be intent on rebalancing your ki or energy flow, so that it flows more freely in your body's meridians or channels. Meridians are accessed by touching tsubo, a term referring to specific points on the body.
Excessive (jitsu) or deficient (kyo) ki or energy is sought out in the meridians. They are believed to control the movement of air, blood, gas and water in the body.
Your practitioner will examine your face, abdominal area or hara, your pulses, spine and tongue to determine how to proceed.
According to About.com, shiatsu has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, as acupuncture does. Illness is believed to come from energy imbalances which will heal as the imbalance is corrected.
Newsmax.com said that "shiatsu" is Japanese for "finger pressure" and that it is also called Japanese shiatsu. Newsmax.com said that it comes from Japanese massage traditions.
It seems that shiatsu may settle a sympathetic nervous system that has been overactive. This may improve the circulation, bring relief to muscle stiffness and lower stress levels. Shiatsu can reduce stress as it promotes relaxation.
Pressure points that feel tender under manipulation might be categorized as good pain. If you are feeling bad pain or discomfort, however, be sure to tell your practitioner so they can adjust the pressure they are exerting accordingly.
You will be dressed during your shiatsu massage session. Dress in loose, thin clothes of linen or cotton.
You may be sitting or lying down on a futon, or you may be on the floor or a low massage table.