Though the historical roots of
Japanese Shiatsu massage go back centuries, the practice first became
widely popular around the beginning of the 20th century. In 1940, the
Shiatsu massage style got a big boost with the founding of the Japan Shiatsu College.
Shiatsu differs from traditional Western massage, which is actually
massage, in its emphasis on a focused form of pressure,
rather than the conventionally long strokes of Swedish massage.
In Shiatsu, the fingers and palms are used
to apply pressure to specific sections of the body, concentrating on
one part at a time. Eventually, the whole of the body can be
covered, but a good Shiatsu will take a relatively long time to
complete, especially as compared to the Swedish technique.
As with many forms of massage therapy, the
theory is dubious - at least to western thought and research It centers
on emphasizing energy points and imbalances for which there is no
empirical scientific evidence. On the other hand, there's no question
that Shiatsu has a healing effect. A good Shiatsu practitioner can
definitely make a client feel relaxed, relieved of stress
and full of energy.
The way these positive results are achieved
is sound enough.
The skilled Shiatsu massage
therapist detects stiffness and other muscle and joint
problems, then applies pressure to those areas. A certain amount of
experience and training is required to do it correctly, since excessive
pressure can do more harm than good. With proper training and a little
time, most therapists will achieve this level without any problem.
of Shiatsu - Jin Shin Jyutsu
There are several variations on the
practice, most coming under the heading of acupressure.
The practice of Jin Shin Jyutsu, for example, is
based on a theory that pressure can change the direction of energy
flowing through the body. Here again the theory is without
any known scientific foundation, but the practice appears to have real
benefits. Using a light touch, held for several minutes,
knotted muscles can be stimulated to release.
When a muscle tenses, it can go too far.
It can tense up to the point of causing intense pain. This is
a form of protection on the part of the body. In this
situation, the muscle proteins clamp together, if you will, to reduce
any additional movement that could cause further injury. Loosening that
knot helps the muscle regain a healthful, more flexible, state.
Focusing the pressure while using the thumb,
finger tips and palms on specific areas can loosen stiff muscles,
limber joints and stimulate good circulation. All these have
real, positive health effects.
There is ample evidence to show that
increased blood flow, decreased muscle tension and proper joint
movement have actual health benefits. Those suffering from
arthritis, tendonitis and even just ordinary muscle ache commonly
report feeling better after a good Shiatsu session.
Nothing could be clearer proof than that.