What is Shiatsu Massage?

Shiatsu is a type of massage therapy that was primarily developed in Japan. With its name derived from the Japanese term for "finger pressure," it involves applying pressure to specific points on the body, moving from one point to another in a rhythmic sequence.

While shiatsu has roots in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it's now commonly practiced throughout the world. There are also countless gadgets, like massage chairs, back and neck massagers, and cushions said to simulate shiatsu.

How Does Shiatsu Work?

As in acupressure, practitioners of shiatsu apply pressure to points on the body thought to be connected to pathways called "meridians".

By stimulating these points, such therapists aim to promote the flow of vital energy (also known as "chi") and facilitate healing. According to the principles of TCM, blockages in the flow of chi can contribute to a wide range of illnesses.

What Does Shiatsu Feel Like?

When performing shiatsu, therapists apply deep pressure using their fingers, thumbs, and/or palms in a continuous sequence. The finger pads are used to apply pressure, and each point is typically held for two to eight seconds.

In some cases, pressure points stimulated during shiatsu may feel tender but it should not hurt. People often describe this tenderness as "good pain."