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Shiatsu comes from Japan and is referred to as the method in which the fingers and the palms are used putting pressure on specific spots on the surface of the body . Shiatsu aims to relaxation , balance body energy and health preservation . The name of the technique reveals its method since the word “ shi ” means fingers and “ atsu ” means pressure in Japanese .

Shiatsu is a technique which belongs to holistic treatments . The word “ holistic ” comes from the Greek word “ όλον ” and the treatment of a condition is based on the balance of the mental , physical and spiritual aspect of the person . The imbalance of these three aspects inevitably leads to a disease . Shiatsu not only treats the symptoms , but also their cause . 

Essential theories and concepts included in Shiatsu philosophy root back to the traditional chinese medicine . Those who apply the Shiatsu technique believe in a vital power called Ki . Ki flows through invisible , linked lines called meridians throughout the body . Each meridian affects an organ and its normal function . Each organ’s Ki can be found in specific places of the body . These places are known as Tsubos . 

Tsubos are places which if effectively treated can tackle problems of the human systems , like circulatory , muscular , neural , skeletal , endocrine and digestive . 

In a healthy person there is a balance of power and Ki flows evenly through the meridians . However , when our body gets weak due to bad habits , stress or injuries , then Ki does not flow evenly . As a result , there are places where Ki is insufficient and places where it is accumulated . This leads to the person getting sick . 

So , each disease is caused by the insufficiency or the excess accumulation of Ki . The places with excess accumulation of Ki are called Jitsu and those with insufficient Ki are called Kyo . 

Jitsu are painful areas and they are symptoms of diseases whereas Kyo are the areas causing the disease . The Japanese expression “ shindan soku chiryo ” describes the essence of shiatsu amd it means “ diagnosis and treatment in combination ”. The therapist learns and gains experience on how to locate exactly abnormalities on the skin and the muscles and to estimate the body’s temperature in order to define the status of the organ which matches the area the abnormality was located . The strength chosen to be exercised depends on the area and the condition as well as on the individual . Experience and awareness of shiatsu essence take a lot of years of hands – on practice as well full understanding of the shiatsu philosophy so as to become an effective method . 

Hence , shiatsu is based on traditional chinese medicine and the science of acupuncture , pressing spots , meridians and ki and for that reason it is considered as acupuncture without needles . It is one of the many techniques which transform life theory in an overall more positive way of thinking . 

Shiatsu theories and techniques aim to physical communication through touch , which aims to everyone’s energy system . Energy is defined as the vital power which is invisible but is perceived with intuition and feeling . 


Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang are two forms of existence which are both opposite and complementary to each other.

Everything has forms of Yin and Yang . People’s health depends on the balance of these energies. Therefore , shiatsu aims to the restoration of their balance.

Yin is defined as the dark, it is cold, wet, soft, female, receptive and it sinks while Yang corresponds to light, it is warm, dry, tough, male, energetic and it emerges.



Meridians are channels which are throughout the body as they form a net of interrelated channels which connect organs, muscles, skin and bones in a whole. Ki flows through the meridians. They play a role in body protection from external factors like viruses and bacteria but also express symptoms which show the existence of these harmful elements in the body. So, each symptom shows that Ki is out of balance. 

The most well – known are the 14 meridians of acupuncture. The most basic meridians are 12, though, and are found symmetrically in the two sides of the body in couples. The other 2 meridians are referred to as vessels and are found in the body axis.


In Shiatsu manipulations and techniques are a few and are limited to proper handling of the fingers and palms and proper posture putting pressure with the suitable physical weight on each area. The pressure which is put has to be static and vertical and not to cause too much pain. The duration of the pressure is 3 – 6 seconds although there are cases it can be longer. 

The therapist should not be supported on any objects. Support is provided by the floor or the bed on which the person receiving treatment is. In some cases, the person receiving treatment may need to be sitting since there are also pressing spots on the feet. 

Both the person receiving treatment and the therapist should be relaxed and without problems and irritations. Sometimes relaxing music is played during the session in order to achieve relaxation more easily. 

It is almost impossible for a therapist to relax and relieve someone from light pain if they themselves are not in good physical condition or have negative feelings like stress, irritation, physical and mental fatigue. The therapist has to be well – rested and in a good mood. 

The two most fundamental manipulations in Shiatsu are thumb pressure and palm pressure. Palm pressure offers invigoration and confidence and it is applied on sensitive areas. It also restores the flow of Ki energy. Thumb pressure is intrusive and it is applied on tsubos . When the one hand applies pressure on a spot, the other one touches the person gently so as to feel positive energy and familiarity. 

In order to achieve the desirable result, the therapist has to make the patient feel relaxed and free of stress and the problems they may have. Hence, the patient has to be familiar with the therapist’s touch in order to transfer their energy. 

Shiatsu is a chiropractor, energy, complementary and holistic treatment which aims to preservation and improvement of health and well – being. 


It is beneficial to;

  • Lessen the feeling of fatigue
  • Headaches, migraines, dizziness
  • Incompetence to concentrate and nervousness
  • Gynaecological problems
  • Digestive problems
  • All kinds of musculoskeletal pain, sciatica, lumbago (back pain)
  • Low libido (sexual desire)
  • Insomnia 
  • Asthma, dyspnea
  • Nervous system disorders 
  • Arthritis, disfigurements of joints

"Shiatsu was developed in the early 20th century by the Japanese Namikoshi Tokujiro."


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