Digits have never felt so divine. Shiatsu means “finger pressure”, it’s a type of Japanese acupressure massage that uses stretching and targeted pressure to stimulate the energy channels in your body. It works very similarly to acupuncture – busting stress and revitalising your health – but without any scary needles.
Shiatsu is not a softly-softly treatment. It’s an intense manipulation of the body, working deep into your muscles for the ultimate stress relief and deep relaxation. Shiatsu therapists aim to access and increase the flow of your inner lifeforce, known as “chi”. According to the theory of acupressure, the body has meridians, which are channels for your chi. Your shiatsu therapist will use a combination of kneading, stretching, rubbing and direct pressure to stimulate these meridians with the aim of removing any blockages and turning your trickling chi into healthy torrents.
If you’re expecting a sensuous, stroking massage, shiatsu might take you by surprise. For a start, there are no oils involved and it’s done fully clothed. It’s also quite a vigorous treatment, so there’s no danger of nodding off mid-treatment - in fact, a lot of people find the harder strokes involved intensely pleasurable. Also, like any deep tissue massage, it will increase your circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage, meaning that your body can turf out those nasty toxins that bit more effectively.
Your therapist will ask you to lie on a massage table, or a padded area of the floor. The massage itself is mostly done with the pressure of your therapist’s fingers and thumbs, but he or she may also use knuckles, elbows, feet and knees - anything to really loosen up your muscles and get that chi on the go. The massage will typically last between 30 to 90 minutes.
If your job’s got you tearing your hair out, or the kids are driving you up the wall, shiatsu could be just what you need to relax and re-balance your energies. It’s great for stress reduction, pain relief and it’s believed to prevent illness by super-charging your immune system too.