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Written by Anatol Borrás
Shiatsu is a traditional healing therapy, which originated in Japan. It is used to relax and revitalise the mind & body, and to restore health and well being. Though the word Shiatsu literally translated means finger pressure, in fact a combination of thumbs, palms, elbows and knees are used to apply varying amounts of pressure to different parts of the body. Points along the meridians or energy pathways (the same as the ones used in acupuncture) are stimulated. Stretches and rotations are also used. The essential principle of Shiatsu is to reactivate the body’s own natural tendency towards balance and energy flow.
As said by Roberto Preinreich in an interview with STANDARD, “We do not treat, but foster the healthy potential of humans.”1
The aim of Shiatsu is the equilibrium and the revitalization of the vital potential, the maintenance and consolidation of the body-mind-and-soul unity, which harmonizes the energy flow. Shiatsu actuates the human organism’s self-healing powers and affects the genesis of disharmonious patterns (disequilibrium of Yin and Yang). The basis of Shiatsu are the far eastern diagnostics, those have as intention with the help of, amongst others, pressure points diagnostic and the client’s constitution to identify an energetic pattern.
Acting pressure upon meridians and acupuncture points, joints, muscles and tendons resolves energetic blockades (tension conditions, conglomerate conditions etc.) and aids the energy flow. Shiatsu stimulates the autonomous nervous system (predominantly through the Parasympaticus) and hence has an equilibrial property upon the heart rate, the respiration and the muscle tone. Thus, calmness and mental repose such as activation can be excited. Interior healing processes and growth processes are aided and facilitate equally the human dynamic process of recovery.
1 “Wir behandeln nicht, sondern unterstützen das gesunde Potenzial der Menschen”, fügt er erklärend hinzu. Roberto Preinreich, Standard Artikel vom 25.07.2011
The character for Qi, the energy of life that is kept flowing with Shiatsu
The first medical documents were being found in China: Nei Ching, The Yellow’s Emperors Classic of internal Medicine (around 2500 BC). Already during the Han-dynasty massage techniques were illustrated as one of four therapeutic forms amongst Moxa, acupuncture and phytotherapy. The first Japanese records date from 2000 years ago. In a whole, the therapy has its fundamentals in the human experience, which is attained by touch and contact with hands to appease pain or psychological discomfort.
There are two big movements that originate from two Japanese masters of traditional Japanese therapies who by studying in the US got into contact with the western medical fundamentals. They studied for example, chiropractics, anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Tokujiro Namikoshi and Shizuto Masunaga had both there own way of treatment. Namikoshi treated more somatic problems with stimulating points around the soreness, as for Masunaga he was more specialized in drawing a connection between body and mind, he sets physiological problems into relation with psychological situations. He emphasized more on the meridians as an entire energetical entity. Many European pioneers studied with Masunaga. These followers spread this art of therapy starting in the mid-70s in Europe. Since the spreading of Shiatsu, 30 years ago, it could eventually position itself as an independent alternative treatment. Nowadays there is a clear line between classical massage and Shiatsu.
Applying in case of:
• nervousness and stress anterior to tournaments
• back tension, shoulder tension or neck tension
• recovery & rehabilitation after accidents and sport injuries
• equilibrial property upon heart, respiration and muscle tone
• activates the immune system
• stress reduction
• fleet recovery anterior to tournaments
There is a practical example that Shiatsu can improve an athlete’s condition:
Some simple Shiatsu techniques regularly practiced after every training during three months produces a subjective and objective improvement of the performances of a group of judoka not agonistic.
In athletes affected by traumatic pathologies of the superior limb, during practicing aikido, great results have been obtained with the treatment. The study confirms the efficacy of Shiatsu in sports traumas, also in case of ancient accidents, and it confirms the contraindication to the use of Moxa in Heat syndrome and in patients with constitutional excess of Yang.
In a controlled study on a group of young volleyball players a weekly session of shiatsu for a period of three months produced a greater improvement of the elastic force, but not in the explosive force compared with a group of athletes of the same team, exposed to the same training and to the same agonistic competitions.
Another controlled study on a team of agonistic karateka on national level, the weekly execution of a shiatsu session for three months produced a significantly lower decrease in a test of explosive force and an improvement of results in tests of strength, and in another explosive test, besides in those of mobility of the trunk during the period of greater loads of training before a contest compared to a group exposed to the same training and to the same agonistic competitions, in which the same test demonstrated a decline of performances, typical of phases of maximal load.
The pressure Shiatsu penetrates deep and limbers up muscular rigidity; stimulating circulation and it improves transport of oxygen (Namikoshi, 1997).
Delivery of treatment
Treatment is delivered on a thin mattress (Futon) lying on the floor. Clients are wearing comfortable clothes. Typically no oils are used. The therapist uses his thumb, his thenar, his elbows, his knees and even his feet. She or he acts pressure upon the single acupuncture points (Tsubos) or along the whole meridians. For different stimulations the therapist uses varying force and intensity, duration and the mode of pressure, considering the client’s constitution and the momentary situation.
• intake of strong medicaments, alcohol, drugs
• mental disorder
• recent injuries
• generally when being sick, with fever
In case of:
• varicose veins
• psychiatric treatment,
practitioner has to take this into consideration and treat accordingly
Wilfried Rappenecker, a German physician who teaches Shiatsu since more than 25 years, says that; “Shiatsu is in its effectiveness is benign, it does not cause any dangerous somatic or emotional reactions. For this reason there no contraindications for Shiatsu.”
Also professional Shiatsu can be applied in agreement with the treating physician or specialist either as replacement therapy or accompanying therapy.
• Carlo BASSI (2009); Skriptum Modul 1 der Shiatsu-Ausbildung, Shiatsu Kreis Wr. Neustadt
• Conversations with Carlo BASSI, Shiatsu teacher & practitioner and Regina SENARCLENS de GRANCY, Shiatsu client
© Anatol Borrás 2011
Friedrich Hebbel-Gasse 2
++43 / (0) 664 / 41 48 925
Carlo Bassi • Dipl. Shiatsu-Praktiker
Friedrich Hebbel-Gasse 2 • 8010 Graz • Mobil: ++43 / (0) 664 / 41 48 925
firstname.lastname@example.org • www.shiatsu-graz.at