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Healing with shiatsu massage

Christine Cristiano hangs her hat in Ontario, Canada. She shares her world with husband, two sons and a beagle named Tessie.

Benefits of shiatsu massage

Over the past decade, as more people strive for a balance of mental and physical wellness, they have turned to shiatsu massage in their quest to reduce stress and improve their overall health. Shiatsu massage is an ancient oriental therapeutic massage treatment in which a trained shiatsu therapist works to adjust the body's energies -- referred to as chi or qi -- and physical structure to help the body heal and achieve solid mind-body wellbeing. How can shiatsu help you? Read on to learn about the benefits of this ancient massage technique.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu is a form of oriental medicine

The true shiatsu massage technique evolved through centuries of oriental medicine and therapies. It is uncertain who actually created the technique; however, in 1940, Tokujiro Namikoshi, opened the Japanese Shiatsu College offering shiatsu massage therapy classes to his students. The Chinese also practiced various types of healing techniques including massage and manipulative therapies comprised of meditations geared for healing, physical exercise, and specialized breathing techniques that were designed to manipulate and guide the body's energies to flow favorably. Unlike other types of massage therapies, a shiatsu massage can be performed through light clothing and without the use of oils.

Shiatsu balances energy

There are different types of shiatsu massage techniques that concentrate on different methods to adjust a client's chi or qi, but the most common practice utilizes acupressure or acupuncture points. Through touch and sense, a trained shiatsu therapist can detect variances within the body even before physical symptoms may begin to appear. These subtle changes indicate that an imbalance is occurring and, with regular shiatsu sessions, a therapist can work to restore balance before physical symptoms occur or worsen.

The benefits of shiatsu

A shiatsu massage is a non-invasive low risk holistic approach for healing the mind and body, and it is suitable for all ages from infant to adults. Shiatsu is used to treat various chronic ailments including insomnia, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal pain, neck, back and joint pain, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, asthma, sciatica and migraines. Shiatsu is also used for reducing stress and anxiety.

Why do people try shiatsu?

According to research conducted by the Shiatsu Society in the UK that surveyed shiatsu users in Britain, Austria and Spain, people gravitate towards shiatsu for a myriad of reasons. Up to 33 percent of respondents tried shiatsu "out of curiosity" while 39 to 59 percent of respondents had a shiatsu massage "to do something for one's self" or for "personal development." The study also revealed that respondents used shiatsu to help with various health maladies including problems with muscles or joints, back pain and posture, digestion, breathing and blood pressure, low energy, fatigue, menstrual pain, reduce use of conventional medication, relieving stress and promoting relaxation. Shiatsu can also be a catalyst for people to increase or improve their daily health habits. The research indicates that up to 80 percent of shiatsu users revealed that they made changes to their lifestyle as a result of having shiatsu treatments.

Shiatsu is part of oriental health care

Though people who regularly get shiatsu treatments rave about the massage technique's results, there haven't been any studies conducted in the United States to back claims of the effectiveness of this type of bodywork. However, much evidence has been published in Japan where shiatsu is the principal manual therapy. In 1964, The Japanese Ministry of Health even recognized shiatsu therapy as a "distinct therapy," and it is also recognized as part of the Japanese public health care system.

What happens during a shiatsu massage session?

At your first shiatsu visit, a therapist will take an assessment of your qi in order to determine the right treatment for your individual needs. You will also complete a medical history to help the shiatsu therapist assess your current state of overall health and wellbeing. Your first session may last about two hours but subsequent sessions are typically completed in one hour, with the therapist monitoring changes and progress.

During the hands-on part of your session, the therapist will apply pressure over the surface of your body using her finger tips and thumbs. The amount of pressure and the pressure points to which pressure is applied is based on your needs during that particular session. Depending on your therapist and the treatment you need, you may be laying on the floor, a mat, or special table or seated in a chair or a futon.

A shiatsu therapeutic massage typically costs between $75 and $100 per session. Some health plans cover shiatsu massage therapy sessions if the therapist is certified through the governing body specific to your country.

Find a qualified shiatsu therapist

When choosing a shiatsu massage therapist, opt only for licensed shiatsu massage therapists who have successfully passed the certification exam administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Shiatsu program graduates are also eligible to complete an exam from The National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

To locate a certified shiatsu massage therapist, a list of practitioners is available at American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) at http://www.aobta.org/ and, in Canada,
The Shiatsu Therapy Association of Ontario at http://www.shiatsuassociation.com/

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