What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is a physical therapy that supports and strengthens the body’s natural ability to heal and balance itself. It works on the whole person - not just with the physical body, but also with the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of being. 

Shiatsu originated in Japan from traditional Chinese medicine, with influences from more recent Western therapies. Although shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese, in practice a practitioner uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and balance its energy flow. It can be a deeply relaxing experience and regular treatments can alleviate stress and illness and maintain health and well-being.  


Shiatsu was for centuries an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine, which was believed to have been introduced to Japan by a Buddhist monk in the 6th century. The Japanese developed and refined many of its methods to suit their own physiology, temperament and cli­mate.   In the early part of the 20th century, one such practitioner, Tamai Tempaku, incorporated the newer Western sciences of anatomy and physiology and disciplines such as physiotherapy and chiropractic into several older meth­ods of treatment.  Now known simply as Shiatsu, it was officially recognized as a therapy by the Japanese Government in 1964.

How does it work?

Based on the initial diagnosis and on physical and visual feedback gained during the session, the practitioner will seek to even out the perceived energy imbalances through pressure on the meridians, probably in conjunction with other techniques such as rocking, stretches and joint rotations. As with diagnosis, Shiatsu treatment is holistic, with the practitioner working on the whole body rather than focusing on the area where symptoms are most obvious. Shiatsu works best if you are relaxed and comfortable as possible, so you should close your eyes, relax your muscles (the practitioner will do all the work if movement is required) and refrain from speaking unless it's really necessary. But let the practitioner know the moment you feel any discomfort or your body will start to tense up and the benefit of the session will be lost.  


Shiatsu is a traditional hands-on Japanese healing art.  It can help in a wide range of conditions - from specific injuries to more general symptoms of poor health. Shiatsu is a deeply relaxing experience and regular Shiatsu sessions help to prevent the build up of stress in our daily lives. 

  Common conditions which have been helped by Shiatsu include:

  • Relieves tension 
  • Stress 
  • Increased wellbeing 
  • Helps aid sleep 
  • Aids relaxation
  • Can dispel muscle soreness and tears
  • Treat sports and work injuries
  • Aid recovery and recouperation

What does the treatment envolve?

Each session lasts approximately one hour. The first session may be slightly longer since your practitioner may ask for details of your current state of health, any medical conditions, history, and lifestyle. The practitioner may take written notes. · You remain fully clothed at all times. The session usually takes place on a padded mat or futon at floor level, although it is possible to receive Shiatsu seated or on a treatment couch. · Your practitioner will treat your whole body by using finger or palm pressure or sometimes, if needed, using knees, elbows and feet. · Shiatsu can involve rotation and stretches of joints and limbs. · Following Shiatsu, due to the body’s natural healing process, there can be a feeling of increased vitality and you may feel invigorated yet relaxed. 


  • Do I have to be ill to receive Shiatsu?
  • No. People can receive Shiatsu purely for relaxation and enjoyment. Regular treatments may help to keep the body in harmony and ward off ill-health.
  • Can I receive Shiatsu whilst on medication?
  • Yes. Your practitioner will ask whether you are currently taking medication and take details of any medical conditions you are suffering from. 
  • I’m pregnant – can I still receive Shiatsu?
  • Yes. Shiatsu is safe and supportive during and after pregnancy. 
  • Can Shiatsu help with ongoing or incurable conditions?
  • Yes. Shiatsu can offer support and can often help to moderate or manage symptoms even if the problem will never really go away. 
  • I cannot lie on the floor. Can I still have Shiatsu?
  • Yes. It is possible to receive Shiatsu in a chair, lying on a treatment couch, in a wheelchair or even in a hospital bed.