Research into the potential of complimentary and alternative medicine has revealed that Shiatsu is an important modality for reaching long term health. The study explored the potential of Shiatsu in promoting well being and critical health literacy.
Shiatsu is an ancient traditional Chinese healing method. Shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’. Pressure and stretching are key components in Shiatsu therapy. Shiatsu was developed by the Chinese around 530 BCE. In the sixth century, a Buddhist monk, Gan Jin Osho brought the imperial medicine of China which included Oriental Bodywork, Tao-yin and Anma to Japan.
These Therapies reached a peak in Japan during the Edo Period (1601-1867) when a ruling was made requiring every physician to master Oriental bodywork before they were allowed to diagnose or use any method in its practice.
The technique evolved in Japan, Southern Asia and Korea where it was extensively practiced.
In 1919, Tamai Tempaku, (later to be regarded as the founder of the Shiatsu School of Bodywork) published his second book titled ‘Shiatsu Ho’ (finger pressure therapy). Tempaku was known for his exhaustive study of European anatomy, physiology, massage and oriental bodywork therapies.
In 1925 “The Shiatsu Therapists Association” was formed in Japan. During the post World War II reorganization and allied occupation of Japan, Harikyu Shiatsu, as Japanese medicine is termed was outlawed by General McArthur. It was reinstated however because of the enormous outcry from the Japanese people. In the mid 1950′s, Shiatsu was recognised as a legitimate form of therapy by the Japanese government.
During the history of Shiatsu, it has evolved into many different methods while still retaining the original intent of the modality. One example of this evolutionary path is seen in the path it has taken to western cultures. In 1980, Harold Dull of California developed a method of Shiatsu called Zen Shiatsu during which the therapy is applied to the recipient in a warm pool of water.
During a standard Shiatsu treatment the certified therapist will assess where chi (qi) flows in a healthy way and where it may be blocked. Shiatsu teaches that disease is the result of blocked or un-balanced energy. Once any areas of blockage have been diagnosed the therapist will then begin the treatment taking notice of specific pressure points determining whether these points may be tender or stiff.
These pressure points run along the 14 meridians that span the length of the body. Once diagnosed the therapist will gently but firmly apply pressure to these points, each corresponding to a specific region of the body.
Two meridians are Central, drawing Chi through the torso: The Governor, which runs along the back of the body and The Conception which runs along the front of the body. The other 12 meridians occur in mirrored pairs along the symmetric halves of the body.
In the past, complimentary and alternative medicine has not received substantial attention within health promotion and CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) literature. During this 6 month observational pragmatic study, data was drawn in 3 European countries, Austria, Spain and the UK. Each recipient of Shiatsu Therapy received a questionnaire inquiring on 4 main areas of the study.
- Advice Received
- Changes made 6 months after
- Clients ‘hopes’ from receiving Shiatsu Therapy
- Features of the Client/Practitioner Relationship
75% of the recipients received advice on exercise, diet, posture, points to work on at home and other self care techniques. The 6 month follow-up, nearly 85% reported making changes to their lifestyle as a result of the Shiatsu Treatment.
The most notable benefits recorded from this study were:
- Better Rest
- Improved Relaxation
- Increased Exercise
- Positive Diet Change
- Reduced Time at Work
- Increased Mind/Body Awareness
- Higher Levels of Confidence and Resolve
The final conclusion from this study,
“Supporting individuals to take control of their self-care requires advice-giving within a supportive treatment context and practitioner relationship, with clients who are open to change and committed to maintaining their health. CAM modalities may have an important role to play in this endeavor”.
An important role for us as Therapists is to remember that we hold inside us information that can and will improve the lives of those who seek all of the health benefits of our field.
“Choose each day to be blissful and complete, a whole person well cared for by you”