Shiatsu is a Japanese technique that functions by harmonising the subtle energies in the human body through manual pressure. Like acupuncture, it is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Shiatsu in its present form was developed in the early 20th century.

According to the precepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, life energy circulates throughout the human body via a network of twelve subtle channels known as meridians. Each meridian is associated with the functions of an internal organ and with a set of psychological characteristics.

Ideally, the energy would be perfectly balanced throughout the circuit of meridians, enabling the individual to function in perfect harmony. Alas, physical and psychological stress as well as external factors can disrupt the smooth flow of this life energy, leading to energetic imbalance and stagnation which in turn, if the situation continues, create physical and psychological tension.

The technique of Shiatsu consists of manual pressure and stretches applied to the meridians and the acupuncture points situated along them. These movements painlessly liberate and regulate the circulation of energy.

This energetic harmonisation helps the receiver to regain physical and psychological balance. By breaking down energy blockages in the meridians, Shiatsu prevents tension from taking root and becoming a permanent fixture in the individual, which could eventually lead to illness. Because the blockages have been liberated, the receiver recovers his or her own "immunity". He or she is thus better equipped to deal with problems and to resist illness. By favouring this immunity, Shiatsu can play a role in the prevention of physical affliction and psychological tension.

A person undergoing a Shiatsu session is not the passive recipient of a treatment, rather an active participant in the search for his or her own harmony.

On a mechanical level, the movements performed in Shiatsu stimulate the lymphatic system - which is linked to the immune system - and the circulation of blood.

Shiatsu is recommended to help deal with stress-related conditions: tension, headaches, back pain, sleep disturbance, nervous problems.

In Japan, Shiatsu is officially recognised as being therapeutic by the Ministry of Health which defined it in 1955 as follows: "Shiatsu is a form of manipulation using the thumbs and the palms and employing no tools mechanical or otherwise, which applies pressure to the human skin to correct defective internal functioning, promote and maintain health and treat specific illnesses ".

The main contraindications to Shiatsu are:

  • cancer in the progressive stage
  • phlebitis
  • open wounds
  • non-consolidated fractures

Shiatsu is a non-conventional medicine according to the definition of Resolution A4-0075/97 of the European Parliament. It cannot substitute for a visit to a health professional.

I observe the ethical code of the Institut Francais de Shiatsu:


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