Shiatsu is a Japanese healing therapy that was developed by Tokujiro Namikoshi in the 1900s. It is believed to have originated from a traditional style of Japanese massage called Amna, which is based on the TCM massage Tuina.

Shiatsu, meaning “finger pressure” in Japanese, is a manual bodywork therapy based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concepts where pressure is applied on certain body areas to trigger the body to self-heal. TCM views illnesses as an imbalance in “qi” energy in the body. “Qi” travels through the body via meridian channels, and there are specific body parts corresponding to a “qi” location, also known as acupressure points. In modern science-speak, researchers have found that such acupressure points actually refers to areas on the body where neurons are extra sensitive, and thus when pressed or stimulated, would promote a healing response.

Namikoshi was the first to demonstrate the physiological benefits of Shiatsu, and many other styles of Shiatsu have emerged since then with different ways of stimulating pressure points in the body, one of them being acupressure.

Shiatsu and acupressure share many similarities. The treatment philosophy for both Shiatsu and acupressure targets the body’s imbalances and apply pressure on acupressure points in the body to restore balance and vitality. Pressing on any one of these pressure points will release tension, improve blood circulation and stimulate organ function. Once the blockages in the body are cleared, nutrients are able to circulate and nourish the cells more efficiently, as well as detox metabolic waste for a total body cleansing effect.

Sessions are usually done on the floor with a mat or on a table. No massage oils are used. Fingers are normally used to stimulate the pressure points, however, sometimes the therapist may use their elbows, knuckles, knees to create a deeper pressure.

These two complementary therapies may look the same to the layman person, but both have vastly different and distinct techniques.

Different Techniques

Shiatsu is an integrated bodywork treatment that treats the entire body, while acupressure focuses on a few key acupressure points on the body only. A Shiatsu session will usually involve manipulation of acupressure points along the whole body, however, acupressure can be used as a form of therapy on its own as well.

Type of Pressure Applied

In Shiatsu, only steady and unmoving pressure is used. During the session, a therapist will use their body weight to apply pressure.
Conversely, circular pressure is used for acupressure, accompanied by a pumping action with the thumb to apply and release pressure in a quick motion. Arm and hand strength is primarily used.

Positioning of Thumb

In Shiatsu, the thumb is always extended while for acupressure, the thumb is usually bent at the first joint.

Process of Diagnosis

The method of diagnosis for acupressure is pretty similar to acupuncture, whereby the practitioner will take your pulse and check your tongue to determine where the cause of imbalances.

On the other hand, Shiatsu diagnoses by focusing on your abdomen area. Other body parts may also be examined to determine the exact location of imbalance and blockages.

Benefits of Shiatsu

Shiatsu is often used for reducing stress, speed up recovery from sports injuries and activate the digestive system. Shiatsu works best if you want a soothing massage that relieves stress, anxiety and depression. It also helps to relieve headaches and muscle tension.
Generally, the whole body is massaged during the session, but your therapist may focus on specific areas of your body to correct imbalances and promote relaxation. You can choose to be fully clothed for Shiatsu massage.

Benefits of Acupressure

Acupressure massage is great for treating chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia. Knowing the areas to apply acupressure helps alleviate most of the symptoms, one being wide-ranging body pain. Stress is also known to cause fibromyalgia to flare up. By using acupressure techniques, you can readjust your emotional and mental state of being, reduce the intensity of pain and gain a better quality of life.

Acupressure is also beneficial for specific body ailments such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Similar to Shiatsu massage, you may also be fully clothed for acupressure massage.

With a better understanding of both therapies, we hope you will be better equipped to make a choice to go for one treatment or the other based on your needs. Depending on your condition that’s being treated, you will feel an improved sense of wellbeing, while more chronic conditions may require a longer treatment program.

Curious to give it a try? Syoujin Clementi is now offering first-time customers a 60 minutes Shiatsu Massage session for only $48 (U.P. $98). Book your appointment at 6251 3735 and allow our experienced therapists from Syoujin Clementi Mall to massage away your stress and tension!