about massage & shiatsu
Massage is a body therapy that applies various levels of pressure to the body. Different techniques or movements are used by the therapist to bring about different effects in the body and are applied to the skin and tissues with the use of oil or wax. For example, the long flowing strokes known as effleurage introduce the therapists touch to the body and help the tissues to warm up and relax. On the other hand tapping and pounding techniques can be used to wake up the body and disperse large areas of tension. Although massage is given on the body and it's tissues it also has a global effect, affecting the whole physiology. For example, the long flowing strokes of effleurage warm up the body and relax the tissues but they also stimulate the lymphatic system and the circulatory system, helping the body to detox and replenish itself.
In holistic massage it is understood that each part affects the whole. How our body is treated and approached also has an effect on our senses and emotions. Our skin is our largest sensory organ and has the ability to remember every way in which it has been touched throughout of lives. Signals are sent from our skin to our brain via our central nervous system. Our fascia, the cling film like substance that envelops every cell of our body also sends information as it is manipulated & moved. When we receive supportive touch our breathing tends to slow down and deepen and our blood pressure drops, our digestion relaxes and we can enter deep states of rest.
During a massage session the therapist may also include rotations and stretching of the joints and limbs. Visualization and breathing techniques may also be used to release tension in the body.
Shiatsu is also a form of massage. Unlike holistic massage it doesn’t work directly on the skin but through the clothes and is traditionally carried out on a futon on the floor, although chairs and massage plinths are also sometimes used.
It was developed in Japan during the 20th century by Shizuto Masunaga and is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Shiatsu treats the whole body and balances the energy system that runs in and around it. This energy system consists of 12 major Channels and 8 Extraordinary Vessels which follow paths through the body and connect to its organs. It also includes hundreds of shiatsu-points or areas of increased energetic flow that are stimulated to increase balance and flow and to move energy around the body.
In Shiatsu, we treat the whole Channel as well as the shiatsu-points. We treat the whole body using healing touch and don’t use needles, so the treatment feels less invasive. Instead, we apply pressure using our hands, fingertips and thumbs as well as the controlled use of forearms and knees. Depending on the symptoms presenting and the skills and specialty of the practitioner, cupping, magnets and the herb ‘mugworth’ may also be used to treat these shiatsu-points.
The use of gentle stretching much like the stretching practiced in yoga is also used to treat and move the energy in the body as well as gentle traction and more western-based techniques of physical therapy and osteopathy.
Both shiatsu and massage can offer great support and benefits to people of all ages and stages of life, from infancy to older age and can effectively help to treat a wide range of conditions and disease.