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Shiatsu is a type of massage therapy that was primarily developed in Japan. With its name derived from the Japanese term for “finger pressure,” it involves applying pressure to specific points on the body, moving from one point to another in a rhythmic sequence.

The theory behind Shiatsu is that our bodies are made up of energy, called “qi”, and that energy gets blocked and causes suffering.

Shiatsu Massage helps remove these blockages by realigning meridian points, which balances the “qi” and eases the body and mind.

When one balances “qi” or vital energy, healing occurs in the body. The nervous immune systems are both stimulates by applying pressure to the meridians, providing relief for both body and mind.

The body has twelve meridians, named according to its corresponding organ: lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, heart governor, triple heater, gall bladder and liver. The functions of these organs have a broader definition in Eastern medicine

When performing shiatsu,  the therapist applies deep pressure using their fingers, thumbs, and/or palms in a continuous sequence. The finger pads are used to apply pressure, and each point is typically held for two to eight seconds.

In some cases, the pressure points stimulated during shiatsu may feel tender. Those receiving shiatsu often describe this tenderness as “good pain,” but it’s important to alert your therapist if you feel discomfort or pain during your massage. Your therapist can then adjust the pressure to make the massage more comfortable for you.

Shiatsu is typically done on a low massage table or on a mat on the floor. At Massage Sense we use a heated futon on the floor.

Although the sequence is often similar to other types of massage, NO massage oil is used, so it is done with the client fully clothed in loose, comfortable clothing.

Shiatsu massage has many benefits to the body and mind.

  • Restore and maintain the body’s energy, especially helpful to those suffering from fatigue and overall weakness
  • Improves circulation
  • Reduces stress and tension as well as anxiety and depression
  • Relief from headaches
  • Promotes healing from sprains and similar injuries
  • Helps bring relief to arthritis sufferers
  • Reduces problems with stiff neck and shoulders as well as backaches (including sciatica)
  • Coughs, colds, and other sinus and respiratory problems
  • Helps those dealing with insomnia
  • Aids in treatment of such various things as digestive disorders, bowel trouble, morning sickness, and menstrual problems


Safety and Side Effects

While Shiatsu is generally considered safe when done by a qualified professional, certain individuals should take caution and consult a health care provider before receiving shiatsu. For example, there’s some concern that shiatsu may have harmful effects in pregnant women, patients who have recently undergone chemotherapy or radiation, and people with such conditions as osteoporosis, heart disease, and blood clotting disorders.

Additionally, shiatsu should not be performed directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumours, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures. People with leg stents should avoid abdominal massage.

Shiatsu should also be avoided immediately after surgery, and by people with infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds.


Shiatsu on a budget

Unfortunately, few insurance companies cover this type of massage unless its prescribed as part of physical therapy for an injury or another health issue.

You should ask your insurance company if they cover Shiatsu, and we can provide you with a detailed invoice.

However, there are some ways you can reduce the financial burden of treating your body on a regular basis.

If you plan to have regular Shiatsu sessions at Massage Sense, we developed several discounted packages that will certainly meet your needs.



Do not use massage therapy to replace your regular medical care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.

If you have a medical condition and are unsure whether massage therapy would be appropriate for you, discuss your concerns with your health care provider. You might also look for published research articles on massage therapy for your condition.