Shiatsu is a type of massage therapy that was primarily developed in Japan. With its name derived from the Japanese term for "finger pressure," it involves applying pressure to specific points on the body, moving from one point to another in a rhythmic sequence.
As in acupressure, practitioners of shiatsu apply pressure to points on the body thought to be connected to pathways called "meridians". By stimulating these points, such therapists aim to promote the flow of vital energy (also known as "chi") and facilitate healing. According to the principles of TCM, blockages in the flow of chi can contribute to a wide range of illnesses.
When performing shiatsu, therapists apply deep pressure using their fingers, thumbs, and/or palms in a continuous sequence. The finger pads are used to apply pressure, and each point is typically held for two to eight seconds. In some cases, the pressure points stimulated during shiatsu may feel tender. Those receiving shiatsu often describe this tenderness as "good pain," but it's important to alert your therapist if you feel discomfort or pain during your massage. Your therapist can then adjust the pressure to make the massage more comfortable for you.
Shiatsu is typically done on a mat on the floor. Although the sequence is often similar to other types of massage, no massage oil is used, so it is usually done with the client fully clothed in loose, comfortable clothing.