Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage therapy which is similar to acupressure, and in fact the word “shiatsu” literally means “finger pressure.” Shiatsu and acupuncture share a common theoretical base, although Shiatsu is often thought of as deriving from acupuncture, the reverse is just as possible. The concepts involved are to promote health and facilitate healing by correcting energy imbalances in the body. Imbalances are corrected by applying gentle pressure to specific points along channels in the body known as meridians.
Shiatsu is thought to be hundreds if not thousands of years old. Originating in Japan, it was initially employed as a medical technique. Over time it was promoted more for relaxation and pleasure. In the last century, however, practitioners began to realize the associated health benefits, particularly its ability to reduce muscle tension and relieve pain. Once again Shiatsu is being used as a way to treat illness.
A Shiatsu practitioner will apply pressure not just to a few points on the body but to whole meridians – usually resulting in a full body treatment. In addition to applying gentle pressure, the practitioner may perform passive stretching exercises or manipulate the soft tissue over and around meridians. In this way energy is released in areas where it may be blocked or stagnated, and is brought back to areas where the energy has been depleted.
Shiatsu is administered with the patient lying fully clothed on either a mat or table. The practitioner will touch certain areas of the body, often starting with the abdomen, to determine the areas where energy is blocked or deficient. Treatment is focused to restore balance, reduce pain, and ease tension. Generally, it is very pleasing to receive. Different patients may have different responses - some people feel so relaxed they may fall asleep, while others may feel invigorated and energized.
Shiatsu has been shown to be effective in relieving a variety of conditions, including back, neck, or shoulder pain, as well as pain due to arthritis. Relief has also been reported for insomnia, headaches, and menstrual cramps. There are some situations in which Shiatsu should be avoided: for patients with open wounds, prone to blood clots, who have recently had surgery, have recently had radiation or chemotherapy, or patients in the first 3 months of pregnancy.
Within the scope of Shiatsu, there are a wide range of treatment styles. The style used at AA&HC is Zen Shiatsu, which incorporates gentle energetic penetration rather than deep pressure on the body’s surface. Zen Shiatsu is a complete system and theory created by Shizuto Masunaga in the 1970’s. It is the first model with its own theory entirely integrated with practice - a cohesive whole where theory, diagnosis, and treatment procedure are inseparable.
Jeanette Morris is a certified Asian Bodywork Therapist (ABT) which means she has been certified by the NCCAOM – the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. In addition to the advanced training and practical clinic experience necessary to receive this title, Jeanette has studied with renowned Shiatsu practitioners Pauline Sasaki and Lindy Ferrigno, CI ABT LMT. This included training in Visceral Manipulation with Lindy.
Patients should wear or bring comfortable, loose fitting clothing – generally sweats, not jeans - which covers their arms and legs, and a clean pair of socks.