Acupressure & Shiatsu Therapy

Deep Pressure at a Rhythmic PaceMichael Reed Gach giving Shiatsu treatment.

Shiatsu Therapy is the traditional therapeutic form of Asian massage that uses deep penetrating pressure to stimulate the Acupressure points. Releasing these healing points opens the flow of energy in the meridians and also increases the circulation of the blood. This nourishes the internal organs, endocrine glands, muscles, nerves, and the vital centers of the body.

The Japanese word Shiatsu is composed of “shi,” meaning finger and “atsu,” meaning pressure. This traditional art of finger pressure releases muscle tension and toxicity. It enhances the vital life energy, the Ki or Chi, that sustains all aspects of the body and mind. Shiatsu is the most well-known style of Acupressure.

In a Shiatsu Therapy session, the practitioner applies steady, firm pressure using the thumbs, fingers, palms, knuckles, or the side of the hand. It can be quite vigorous, with firm pressure applied to each point for only a few seconds. Deep relaxation at the end increases the healing benefits.

Michael Reed Gach giving Shiatsu treatment.Shiatsu promotes the body’s natural curative powers. The application of direct pressure releases excess lactic acid and carbon dioxide that contribute to muscular problems. Shiatsu techniques — especially those which use an intermittent, fast beat — are stimulating and awaken the energy in the meridian system.

Shiatsu Therapy Methods

There are many varied ways to give Shiatsu treatments, as different Shiatsu Masters developed their own techniques. All styles have similarities, but by changing the rhythms, pressures, and methods, the different styles of Shiatsu Therapy were created. Two of these are Zen Shiatsu (also known as Masunaga Shiatsu), and Ashiatsu (also called Barefoot Shiatsu).

Masunaga, the founder of Zen Shiatsu, used the following techniques that differentiate Zen Shiatsu from other forms of Shiatsu:

  • Leaning your body weight into the client from your hara (the vital center between your belly button and your pubic bone)
  • Using various ways to use your hand, elbow, and knee to apply pressure
  • Incorportating body stretches, making it complementary to Traditional Thai Massage

A Shiatsu Therapy Treatment

Man receiving Shiatsu treatment from Michael Reed Gach.A professional Shiatsu Practitioner will be able to individualize each treatment based on a person’s condition. This sensitivity is achieved through the practice of giving Shiatsu treatments and learning how to harmonize the yin and yang forces within the body.

Rhythmic pressure is maintained throughout the treatment. Various areas of the body are pressed firmly for three to ten seconds. The pressure should be gradual and slow in meeting the muscular tension in the body.

A skillful Shiatsu Practitioner concentrates on applying the pressure gracefully into each level of muscle tissue. A balanced amount of pressure should “hurt good,” a feeling somewhere between pain and pleasure.

Deep relaxation is the key for obtaining the maximum benefits from Shiatsu Therapy. How the recipient treats him or herself after the treatment is what heals the body.

To receive the maximum benefits, completely relax for an hour after a Shiatsu treatment. Deep relaxation is necessary to rebalance the body after the Shiatsu treatment.

Acupressure & Shiatsu Therapy Resources

My Zen Shiatsu Teacher — Reuho Yamada
Read my personal story about learning Shiatsu from a Japanese monk.

What’s the difference between Shiatsu & Acupressure?
Find out my answer, with more information about the development of Shiatsu.

Zen Shiatsu Video Cover
Zen Shiatsu Video teaches how to give a complete Shiatsu treatment for structural integration and muscular tension relief. This one hour video guides you from head to toe, front, side and back.
Shiatsu Instruction Booklet cover
This fully illustrated Shiatsu Instruction Booklet shows 50 traditional Shiatsu techniques, including a holistic Shiatsu bodywork program, organized into 5 sections for working on people.