Shiatsu: a manual method with multiple benefits

What is shiatsu?

Shiatsu is a manual therapy of Japanese origin which aims to restore the circulation of vital energy in the acupuncture meridians. This preventive method brings physical and mental relaxation, which contributes to improving the well-being of the person. . The idea is to connect the body and the mind. Often the imbalance has been in place for a while, but the pain suddenly appears “for no apparent reason”. The goal is to understand why we have this pain, what are the blockages. This method can be used in many cases: reduce stress, improve sleep…. Shiatsu strengthens the body’s immune system and therefore helps prevent “common ailments” such as seasonal pathologies: gastroenteritis, tonsillitis, colds, flu, etc. Shiatsu can help reduce pain by releasing endorphins , it thus reduces anti-inflammatory. In the field of sport also shiatsu has its place: to prepare before a session, to recover after an intense effort. Auto-shiatsu, which consists of pressing oneself on very specific points of the body, is interesting because it helps relieve ailments when you need them. For example, some self-massages can be performed in case of fatigue, they allow you to give yourself an express boost in the office when concentration drops.

Who is shiatsu for?

To everyone, at all ages, from infants to the elderly, including pregnant women. On the other hand, for infants and pregnant women, be careful to choose a specialist practitioner. In pregnant women, for example, certain points are prohibited, so the practitioner must be trained in these particularities. This method can be used during an illness, in parallel with the work of the medical profession, in complementary therapy on chronic diseases (cancer, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis). The only contraindications are fever, if you are in the process of infection, if you have phlebitis, if you have major heart problems or if you have a pacemaker, shiatsu is not recommended.

A typical Shiatsu session

As a general rule, a shiatsu session lasts about 1 hour. It begins with an interview with the person, in order to determine his demand, his needs, his eating habits, his well-being and his general health. An energy balance is then carried out, either by touching the person, or by observing or by questioning him. The practitioner can for example ask to observe your tongue, or take your “Chinese pulse”. Then, the session begins, it is individual to be as personalized as possible. We never receive the same shiatsu, depending on the time of year, the needs of the day, the moment, the requests … Dressed, lying on a futon or on a massage table or chair on the stomach, or positioned in lateral, the practitioner proceeds to movements, massages or pressures more or less supported. Then, he generally gives advice on diet, lifestyle, postures to adopt and sometimes, some exercises to do self-shiatsu. For example, it can show you how much to press in case of stress, an exercise to repeat as soon as the stress rises in you. He will also explain the principles of Chinese medicine, which you will benefit from following (do not overeat, reduce this type of food, know how to be reasonable, etc.)

How many Shiatsu sessions are needed?

Doing a session at each change of season is ideal. Depending on the person and the needs, the number of sessions required varies. For example, for sleep problems, it may take 2 to 3 sessions together to get results. Often people come too late and more sessions are needed. We must not wait for an imbalance to occur, the best is to use this method in prevention. Be careful to choose a practitioner trained by a serious organization, because there are currently no regulations in France.

Thanks to Valérie Capel, shiatsu practitioner, Communication Manager of the French Federation of Traditional Shiatsu (


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