Shiatsu: What to Expect

Shiatsu: What to Expect

Shiatsu uses the same pathways (referred to as meridians) of energy, as used in acupuncture.

Shiatsu, however, is bodywork and uses no needles.

Combining the knowledge of western anatomy and physiology with the holistic approach of Chinese medicine, Shiatsu employs gentle pressure, passive stretches, and joint mobilization to release the effects of built-up stress in the body and mind.


Shiatsu image

Shiatsu aims to release and regulate the natural life force energy (called Ki in Japan, Chi, sometimes spelled Qi, in China), which flows through the meridian network.  An imbalance in this network can lead to fatigue, pain, and illness. Shiatsu therapists use hands, thumbs, forearms and occasionally even elbows or knees, to apply comfortable pressure along the meridians. This pressure facilitates a  natural rebalancing of the system, literally “connecting the dots”, which results in nourishment of the internal organs, muscles, glands, nerves, and blood.

Shiatsu is generally  a very comfortable experience, however, discomfort or “dis-ease” is the body’s signal that an imbalance exists. The Shiatsu therapist locates these areas and/or points and applies the appropriate pressure and stretches to help correct the imbalance.

It is important to know that the Zen style of Shiatsu practiced here is a gentler form of Shiatsu than you may have been exposed to previously. During your treatment, you should tell the therapist if you are experiencing discomfort; often, focusing on exhalation with pressure, and mindfulness will turn a tense, potentially uncomfortable experience into one of deep relaxation and release. The pressure applied by the therapist is always within your comfort zone. Slowly and gently, any initial “dis-ease” will subside or change its character. Tension is released and the flow of energy is restored, as your body’s natural healing process begins.

Potential Treatment Reactions
In general shiatsu creates a deep sense of relaxation, and at the same time an increase in energy. It is common to experience increased range of motion.

If you should feel light headed or dizzy, tell your therapist immediately. Treatments are individual and everyone responds differently to shiatsu, but since shiatsu stimulates the lymphatic system there may be reactions as the body eliminates waste products. These may include a decrease in energy,  stiff/sore muscles,  mild headache or a change in an old pain. There is the possibility of feeling worse for a short period of time before feeling better.

– These possible  treatment reactions, usually only occur after a first treatment, as patterns of stagnation that may be of long duration, are released and waste products are eliminated.

Detoxification symptoms can be alleviated, by following some simple self care guidelines, such as having an epsom salts bath, and making sure to stay well hydrated  after your treatment.

At any time, if you have concerns about your reaction to treatment, call your therapist to discuss these.