Shiatsu Massage Technique

How to Give a Shiatsu Massage – Unlocking the Art

The fact that the patient wears clothing the entire time during a shiatsu massage may be the most distinguishing feature of the technique because it helps to protect the skin as the therapist works on pressure points and joints.

As a result, it is similar to acupuncture except that pressure points are targeted without the use of needles by using fingers, thumbs, knuckles, elbows, and occasionally even the feet. The body is put under pressure during this procedure in order to transfer energy from one person to another.

Although it originated in Japan, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the foundation of shiatsu. In order to encourage rest and relaxation for the recipient, it uses pressure spots on the body that follow a meridian.

What Is Shiatsu Massage

During a shiatsu massage, the recipient typically lies on a mat on the floor or on a massage table. The practitioner uses their hands, fingers, and elbows to apply pressure to specific points on the body, called acupressure points. The pressure applied can vary from light to deep, depending on the individual’s needs and preferences.

Shiatsu massage is believed to help relieve a variety of physical and emotional ailments, including stress, anxiety, muscle tension, headaches, and digestive problems. It is also said to improve circulation and promote overall well-being.

In addition to the pressure point techniques, massage may also involve stretching and joint manipulation to help release tension in the muscles and joints. The massage is typically performed fully clothed, so loose, comfortable clothing is recommended.

Basic Techniques

techniques for performing Shiatsu massage 1

Here are some basic techniques for performing Shiatsu massage:

Pressure points

Shiatsu massage works on the principle of applying pressure to specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing. These points are called acupressure points, and there are hundreds of them all over the body. Applying pressure to these points can help release tension and promote relaxation.

Palming and thumbing

Palming and thumbing are the basic techniques used to apply pressure to acupressure points. Palming involves using the palm of your hand to apply pressure, while thumbing involves using your thumbs to apply pressure. You can use one or both hands, depending on the location and size of the acupressure point.


Kneading involves using your fingers to knead or roll the muscles, which can help release tension and promote relaxation. This technique is particularly effective for the back and shoulders.


That is another technique used in shiatsu massage. It involves gently stretching the muscles to release tension and improve flexibility. This technique is particularly effective for the legs and hips.


That involves gently rocking the body or limbs back and forth, which can help release tension and promote relaxation. This technique is particularly effective for the back and hips.


It involves using circular or back-and-forth movements to apply pressure to a specific area. This technique is particularly effective for areas that are tender or tight, such as the neck and shoulders.

Health Benefits

This type of massage is believed to have numerous health benefits, including:

Reducing Stress and Anxiety

It is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety levels. The pressure applied to specific points on the body helps to release tension and promote relaxation. This can lead to a reduction in cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress.

Relieving Pain

Shiatsu massage has been found to be effective in relieving pain, particularly in the back, neck, and shoulders. The pressure applied to specific points on the body can help to alleviate muscle tension and promote blood flow, which can reduce pain and discomfort.

Improving Sleep

It has also been found to improve sleep quality. By reducing stress and promoting relaxation, shiatsu massage can help individuals fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Boosting Immune Function

Shiatsu massage has been shown to boost immune function by increasing the production of white blood cells. This can help the body fight off illness and disease.

Enhancing Overall Well-Being

It can enhance overall well-being by promoting relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety, relieving pain, and improving sleep. This can lead to a greater sense of happiness and contentment in life.

It is important to note that shiatsu massage should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before trying it.

How To Give Shiatsu Massage?

How To Give Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage employs a method that encourages the passage of energy through the body’s meridians. A healthier energy flow may enhance general well-being and vitality. These are a few instructions for performing a shiatsu massage:

Prepare the environment

Create a peaceful and comfortable environment by dimming the lights, playing soothing music, and using comfortable cushions or pillows. It is important that the recipient feels relaxed and at ease.

Begin with breathing exercises

Encourage the recipient to take deep breaths to relax and prepare their body and mind for the massage.

Start with the back

Begin with the recipient lying face down. Use your palms and thumbs to apply pressure along the spine, starting from the top of the back and working your way down.

Move to the neck and shoulders

Use your fingers to apply pressure to the shoulders, neck, and upper back. You can also use your hands to gently pull and stretch the muscles in these areas.

Work on the arms and hands

Use your fingers to apply pressure to the acupressure points in the arms and hands, focusing on the points between the thumb and index finger.

Move to the legs and feet

Have the recipient turn over to lie on their back. Apply pressure to the acupressure points in the legs and feet, starting from the top of the thighs and working your way down.

End with breathing exercises

Encourage the recipient to take deep breaths and focus on their body sensations.

Remember to communicate with the recipient throughout the massage to ensure that they are comfortable and that the pressure applied is appropriate for their needs. It is also important to be mindful of your own body mechanics and to use your body weight to apply pressure, rather than straining your hands and arms.

With practice and patience, giving a shiatsu massage can become a wonderful skill to share with loved ones or clients.

Shiatsu Vs Other Types

Shiatsu shares similarities with other types of massage. However, it also features techniques distinct from other classic forms of massage.

Shiatsu vs. Swedish massage

Both Swedish massage and shiatsu use the hands and palms to manipulate the body manually. However, Swedish massage uses methods including effleurage, petrissage, percussion, and friction that are different from those employed in shiatsu. Moreover, oil must be used for the Swedish massage treatments.

Swedish massage concentrates on the muscles and connective tissues, whereas shiatsu concentrates on pressure points. Because of this, therapists can let clients choose the intensity or level of their massage.

Shiatsu vs. Thai massage

Both massages are both forms of dry massage. While they both aim to enhance the body’s energy flow, their roots are in very distinct traditional techniques.

Both utilize energy flows, although their main areas of emphasis are different. Shiatsu emphasizes applying deep pressure to the meridians, whereas Thai massage emphasizes stress reduction, circulation improvement, and flexibility enhancement. Thai massage is frequently referred to as aided yoga because of this.


full body shiatsu massage

Is shiatsu a full body massage?

Yes, shiatsu is a full-body massage. It typically includes massage of the neck, back, shoulders, arms, abdomen, legs, and feet.

How long should a shiatsu massage last?

It typically lasts for 60 to 90 minutes. The duration of the massage may be adjusted depending on the individual’s needs.

Can you overuse a shiatsu massager?

Excessive use can be bad for your body and can also reduce the lifespan of the massager. Overuse can lead to muscle soreness and pain, and can also cause other mild health issues.


Overall, it is a safe and effective way to promote relaxation, relieve pain, and enhance overall well-being. By incorporating this massage technique into your wellness routine, you may experience numerous health benefits that can improve your quality of life.

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