Shiatsu is from the Japanese word shi meaning finger and atsu meaning pressure. It is characterized by the systematic application of pressure with the fingers, thumbs, palms, elbows, forearms, knees and feet on specific points (tsubos), and areas (meridians) on the body. Unlike acupressure, Shiatsu uses not only the main acupuncture points located on a meridian, but also the spaces in between those points. It does not use typical massage mediums such as oils or creams, and as such can be done through clothing. Shiatsu is traditionally practised on the floor on a thin futon.

The sustained application of pressure during a Shiatsu treatment activates the mechano-receptor cells in the body and the parasympathetic nervous system, often resulting in a change of brain wave patterns. This allows the body to relax, promotes the smooth flow of blood and qi (ki in Japanese) or vital life force, and activates the natural or innate healing power of the individual.

What conditions is shiatsu used for?

  • Relaxation
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Tiredness
  • Recovery from injuries
  • Stress
  • Arthritis pain
  • Poor digestion
  • Constipation
  • Depression


Shiatsu is not recommended for certain people:

  • infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
  • immediately after surgery
  • immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
  • people with osteoporosis should consult their doctor before having shiatsu
  • prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having shiatsu
  • pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting any type of massage or bodywork. Shiatsu in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
  • shiatsu should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.

Your first session will start with an initial consultation. During discussion you advise your practitioner which areas you would like worked on. You should wear thin, loose, comfortable clothing, such as cotton or linen when attending a Shiatsu Massage and expect to lie flat on the floor.

Your Shiatsu massage will involve rotating and stretching of joints, manipulation of pressure points and deep breathing. Proponents of Shiatsu massage believe it is both healing and preventative. They suggest that regular sessions together with stretching, exercise, and a healthy diet, may improve your health.

Shiatsu massage helps supports individuals in moving towards a greater sense of health and well-being by adjusting the body's physical structure and its natural inner energies. To get the best results from a shiatsu massage, seek out a suitably trained and qualified practitioner.