What Exactly Is a Shiatsu Massage?

  • Massage Therapy
  • March 11, 2024
  • 2 min read
What Exactly Is a Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu comes 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 practiced 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.

Shiatsu can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, pain being the most common. Often pain, particularly in the soft tissues, is treated by Western medicine with muscle relaxants and pain killers. Shiatsu seeks to treat the underlying cause of pain, as well as the symptoms.

The role of the Shiatsu therapist is to help activate the natural healing and recuperative powers of the patient. Regular treatments are important when there is a chronic condition, but Shiatsu is most effective when used preventively. The cumulative effect of treatments helps to strengthen the immune system, tonify organs, and keep the qi and blood flowing smoothly.

Shiatsu is a very old, powerful medicine with its roots at least 5,000 years in the past. Yet it still remains an important and potent way for people to connect with themselves, their health, and their environment in the fast-paced 21st century. At Northwest Career College, Shaitsu is a part of our Massage Therapy Program curriculum which prepares you for your national board exam. For more information about becoming a Massage Therapist, please call 702-254-7577 and speak to a member of the Northwest team…your new career awaits you!

Ivy Adams
Massage Therapy Program Chair

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Ivy is a proud graduate of Northwest Career College, class of 1999, and has been a Licensed Massage Therapist ever since. Her eighteen years of experience has taken her through an eclectic array of…Read Full Bio