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. While shiatsu has roots in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it's now commonly practiced throughout the world.

How Does Shiatsu Work?

As in acupressure, practitioners of shiatsu apply pressure to points on the body thought to be connected to certain so-called meridians.

By stimulating these points, such therapists aim to promote the flow of vital energy (also known as "chi"). According to the principles of TCM, blockages in the flow of chi can contribute to a wide range of illnesses.

What Does Shiatsu Feel Like?

When performing shiatsu, massage therapists use their fingers, thumbs, and/or palms in a continuous rhythmic sequence. The finger pads are used to apply pressure throughout the treatment, 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.

Additional Tips

  • The treatment is done on a low massage table or on the floor.
  • Unlike other forms of massage, with shiatsu no massage oil is applied, so you remain fully clothed during the treatment. You may be asked to bring comfortable clothing to wear.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal before the shiatsu