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Features Practice Technique
The Shiatsu Story

Shiatsu is a manual therapy developed in Japan through a synthesis of Eastern and Western medical concepts. Its goal is to enhance the body’s natural healing power using mankind’s most ancient medical tools, the human heart and the human hands. Shiatsu treats the patient using a holistic approach to stimulate the body’s immune system.


August 20, 2010
By Yoko Abe RMT

Topics
shiatsu.jpg 

Spirit through spirit
and back again – hands release
the fountains of life.

Shiatsu is a manual therapy developed in Japan through a synthesis of Eastern and Western medical concepts. Its goal is to enhance the body’s natural healing power using mankind’s most ancient medical tools, the human heart and the human hands. Shiatsu treats the patient using a holistic approach to stimulate the body’s immune system.

Our shiatsupractors require a 2,200-hour shiatsu program. This program is composed of the medical sciences including anatomy, physiology, and pathology as well as a shiatsu practicum of 670 hours. The shiatsu practised at the Japan Shiatsu Clinic and the Canadian College of Shiatsu Therapy is the original form shiatsu, which was developed by Tokujiro Namikoshi, who is the founder of shiatsu. This is the only form of shiatsu recognized and licensed by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.

The original form of shiatsu has an important rule stating that practitioners shall only use their hands to apply pressure; there are two reasons for this. One reason is that pressure can be applied more accurately and this is important so the patient doesn’t get injured from too much pressure, or pressure to an incorrect area.  The other reason is the patient’s body condition changes, so it is important for the shiatsupractor to constantly receive feedback such as tension or coldness from the patient’s body; this feedback is best received by the practitioner through the hands.

When we are in pain, our instinctive response is to press or hold the area that bothers us. This simple action somewhat stimulates the body to react and naturally relieve the discomfort. Shiatsu uses the same principle, combined with a physiological and anatomical understanding, to help with seven physiological functions:

  • Vitalizing the skin
  • Limbering the muscles
  • Stimulation and circulation of body fluid
  • Regulating the nervous system
  • Controlling the endocrine system
  • Strengthening skeletal bones
  • Conditioning the digestion system

Differences between shiatsu and massage
The key differences between shiatsu and a massage are:

  • Shiatsu uses rhythmic pressure and stretching, whereas massage uses mostly rubbing and kneading.
  • Shiatsu uses only the hands, whereas massage frequently uses other parts of the body.
  • Shiatsu can be performed with the client fully clothed, whereas massage is usually performed on bare skin with oils or lotions, and requires the client to partially or fully disrobe.
  • Shiatsu is usually performed on a mat on the floor (though it can be performed anywhere), but massage is performed on a table or is sometimes adapted to a special massage chair.
  • Shiatsu often leaves the recipient feeling relaxed but energized. Massage often leaves the recipient relaxed but feeling somewhat sleepy.

Other features of shiatsu

  • Diagnosis through touch – Using shiatsu we are able to feel which areas are injured and treat them accordingly; this is important for gaining trust, especially with first time shiatsu patients.
  • Treatment flexibility – We are able to treat a patient in any position whether it be lying down, sitting, or standing up. This is important, particularly in the beginning, when a new patient has difficulties staying in one position.
  • General benefits of shiatsu – The general effects of shiatsu, and the benefits that its patients enjoy, are evident in almost any case. 
  • Gentle treatment – Our treatments are as gentle as possible, particularly in a case where we feel that a painful treatment may destroy the acceptance of shiatsu.

The founder of shiatsu once said, “The heart of shiatsu is like a mother’s love. Pressing the human body stimulates the fountains of life.” Shiatsu practitioners hope to give a loving gentle treatment that can help the body to revive and heal itself.


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