Shiatsu massage is a massage therapy technique. It originated in Japan, and is the combination of (and improvement upon) ideas from several ancient traditions, including anma massage, traditional Chinese medicine, and acupressure. Many myths and misconceptions have developed around this powerful tool for well being. We’ll examine a few of them here.
Myth: Shiatsu is just a bunch of spiritual nonsense
Traditional shiatsu massage therapists do believe that massage can help balance the energy in the body. But whether or not you believe that to be the case, it’s a fact that shiatsu improves circulation, eases tensed muscles, and helps to reduce the presence of stress hormones. While Western medical researchers aren’t yet sure of the reasons why shiatsu works for certain conditions, it does work, which means it is having a physiological effect on the body. You may or may not believe that it balances energy in your body—but that doesn’t matter when it comes to letting it work!
Myth: Shiatsu is useless for cancer sufferers
Shiatsu is not a replacement for medical treatment of cancer. It can, however, be a wonderful supplementary therapy to help manage symptoms. It is unknown whether or not shiatsu can have an effect on cancer itself, as there has not been enough formal research on the topic. However, there is plenty of evidence that it can help manage pain, anxiety, stress, and nausea, and can improve appetite.
Myth: Shiatsu isn’t helpful for pain relief
When people hear the advice to try massage therapy instead of medication for pain relief, they’re often resistant. They either don’t believe it works, or they believe that it is only good for sore muscles, not chronic pain. In fact, shiatsu has been shown to help reduce many different types of pain, from migraines to fibromyalgia. Of course, it is also good for sore muscles, stiff joints, and other issues that people traditionally use massage to treat.
Myth: Shiatsu itself is painful
Movies and pop culture have often emphasized the deep bodywork aspects of shiatsu (generally for comedic effect) which can cause discomfort. But shiatsu massage can also be merely firm, or even very gentle. It’s entirely up to the client. A great massage therapist will always work within their client’s comfort level when it comes to the depth and intensity of the massage. You don’t have to worry about having someone karate chop your back!