SHIATSU: Benefits to the body and mind. 

Shiatsu is therapeutic bodywork from Japan based on principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine combined with modern anatomy and physiology. It is one of the main modalities within the larger profession of Asian Bodywork Therapy. Shiatsu is non-invasive, performed without oils through light, comfortable clothing, and uses soothing, kneading, pressing, tapping and stretching techniques.

The character 指  “shi” means finger or toe. The character 圧 “atsu” translates as “slowly applied pressure maintained then slowly released” with the implication of the use of body weight rather than strength. Together the two characters symbolize a range of techniques used in a therapeutic way, delivered by body weight using either fingers, palms, elbows, knees or feet.

Shiatsu achieves unique results because of its holistic goals which attempt to treat the whole person rather than a specific medical complaint. Shiatsu is based on the time-honoured Oriental medical understanding that our physiological and psychological structures are supported and affected by meridians. Meridians are channels of living magnetic energy. A shiatsu practitioner can improve the Ki (chi, life-force, energy) flowing through the meridians to improve our general health and wellbeing. 

The body has twelve meridians, named according to its corresponding organ: lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, heart governor, triple heater, gall bladder and liver. The functions of these organs have a broader definition in Eastern medicine.

 Here is a list of some of those benefits:

  • Restore and maintain the body’s energy, especially helpful to those suffering from fatigue and overall weakness
  • Improves circulation
  • Reduces stress and tension as well as anxiety and depression
  • Relief from headaches
  • Promotes healing from sprains and similar injuries
  • Helps bring relief to arthritis sufferers
  • Reduces problems with stiff neck and shoulders as well as backaches (including sciatica)
  • Coughs, colds, and other sinus and respiratory problems
  • Helps those dealing with insomnia
  • Aids in treatment of such various things as digestive disorders, bowel trouble, morning sickness, and menstrual problems


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few of the questions people frequently ask about Shiatsu.

Will I have to change my lifestyle?

First and foremost, your Shiatsu practitioner will respect your chosen lifestyle, however 'un-oriental' it is. Indeed, Shiatsu is particularly beneficial for people in the high-stress occupations associated with the mainstream of modern life. Your Shiatsu practitioner may discuss ways in which you could 'fine-tune' your life in order to get more out of it - for example a change in diet or more exercise - much as your own GP might.

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.  Many of our practitioners specialise in maternity.

Is Shiatsu complementary or alternative?

Shiatsu is complementary to mainstream Western medicine, not an alternative to it. Treatment will be given according to Oriental diagnosis, though it is always important that the modern Western diagnosis is confirmed and considered as well. Both Shiatsu and Western medicine have important roles to play.



Wear light, comfortable clothing, that stretches with you, as clients remain clothed during a Shiatsu Therapy session.


USA and Canada

American Organisation for Bodywork Therapies of Asia
The Shiatsu Association in Ontario Canada
The Shiatsu School of Canada

United Kingdom and Europe

The Shiatsu Society in the UK
The European Shiatsu School
The European Shiatsu Federation
The Shiatsu Society of Ireland
Carola Beresford-Cooke and Shiatsu Wales