In shiatsu the body/mind's own healing ability is stimulated by application of pressure to specific points and areas of thebody. These include the specific points of known therapeutic effect called tsubos (pronounced 'subos'), meridians, which are energetic lines linking together points of similar effect, and points which appear spontaneously along the meridians. Tsubos may be found on the patient or may be absent, and if found, they may alter position or disappear as they are worked on. The pressure in shiatsu is applied with the thumbs, palms, fingers, elbows, forearms and sometimes feet.
The meridian system provides access to thebody's energetic system which consists of a universal energy known as ki (Japanese) or chi (Chinese), also spelled 'qi'. Chi energy affects general quality of health and a shiatsu practitioner uses various forms of diagnosis to gauge the quantities of ki in the meridians, thereby assessing the health of the patient.
As shiatsu is a holistic therapy, treating the whole person on structural, physiological, psychological and spiritual levels of being, thereby addressing the cause of the problem. In shiatsu all aspects of the person are considered to be part of a whole interconnected system, each affecting and begin affected by changes in the health and well-being of all the other parts.
Shiatsu is a non-invasive holistic body therapy which is effective is relieving stress and tension. It acts as a catalyst for the mind/body's own healing process and generally takes place on a floor or futon (padded mattress). Treatment is mainly done in the prone, supine, side and sitting positions and this varies depending on things such as pregnancy and structural conditions. Ease of access to the areas concerned is also important so that smooth, progressive treatment can be provided. Clients are fully clothed, but shoes, belts, ties, jeweller yand anything which may restrict movement are removed. The practitioner relies on sensitivity of touch. Shiatsu enables a person to completely relax and promotes physical health, emotional calm and mental clarity.
- Before treatment begins, a full appraisal of the client's condition and clues as to the possible cause are investigated. Touch, smell, listening, looking and observations of attitude, posture, mannerisms, face colour and voice can all give indications of the client's overall condition and come into play the moment client and therapist meet.
- Shiatsu is then often explained to the client before the physical treatment begins. This consists of stretching, gentle manipulation and pressure techniques along the meridians which stimulates the circulation and the flow of lymphatic fluid, working on both divisions of the autonomic nervous system, helping to release toxins and deep seated tension from the muscles and stimulating the endocrine (hormone) system.
- Patients often feel invigorated yet relaxed after a treatment and there may be a small reaction (e.g. nasal secretion/ headache) that will soon pass and is seen as part of the healing process.
- Shiatsu combines well with osteopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic, psychotherapy and nutritional therapy. Much depends on the ability, co-operation and communication between the different therapists involved and the permission of the client!