Shiatsu is based on traditional Chinese medicine and works on the same principles as acupressure. Used on a self-help basis, these finger pressures are called do-in (pronounced ‘doh-in’).
If you have ever rubbed and pressed a sore spot on your body, you have performed a type of shiatsu. Shiatsu is a Japanese therapy, whose name literally means ‘finger pressure’. In practise therapists use their fingers, thumbs, palms, elbows, arms, knees and feet to apply pressure to hundreds of pressure points called tsubos. Working on these points is believed to influence the body’s flow of energy along invisible channels called meridians. Although a relatively modern therapy, shiatsu is based on an ancient oriental type of massage called ‘amma’, which involved rubbing and pressing on the body to treat common physical and emotional problems. Modern practitioners combine traditional oriental bodywork techniques with knowledge of physiology and anatomy gleaned from Western medicine.
Shiatsu is similar to acupuncture in that it works on the body’s so-called energy pathways, or meridians, to regulate the flow of healing energy which the Japanese call ki. Practitioners diagnose by asking questions about your health, medical history, work, diet, relationships and lifestyle. The sound of your voice, your smell, and the look and feel of certain of your body parts can also indicate the underlying problem. Most important of all is the abdomen or ‘hara’. This is called ‘the ocean of ki’, and touching it enables the practitioner to diagnose and treat problems throughout the body.