Young woman having back massage, close-up
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Shiatsu massage originated in Japan and utilizes the hands and palms--particularly the thumbs--to massage the body at specific points and treat many different conditions and encourage relaxation. Although often referred to as a form of massage, shiatsu is actually a form of energy work that balances the energy pathways in the body. The benefits of shiatsu depend upon the reasons for the visit and the duration of the therapy. Shiatsu practitioners report that people who go for regular treatments reap the most benefits, but that even one session can help relax the client and begin to clear the blocks in the energy.


Shiatsu massage can help relieve constipation when applied to the abdominal area, according to the health care providers at the Mayo Clinic. The stretching and pulling of the massage can loosen muscles and relax the intestines and colon to relieve constipation.


Shiatsu massage has been shown to relax nearly everyone who receives it. Research conducted by the Shiatsu Society and the European Shiatsu Federation showed that nearly 95 percent of the study participants felt calmer and more relaxed after a shiatsu session. In addition to feeling calmer the ESF study showed that 54 percent of the study group slept better after a session.

Muscle Aches

Shiatsu massage can work the tension and spasms out of muscles. In addition to the act of rubbing and pulling at the skin and muscles, shiatsu helps to release tension by pressing on acupressure points that release tension. The ESF study showed that more than 85 percent of participants reported feeling better about symptoms including tension, back pain, joint pain and posture problems.

Other Benefits

Shiatsu practitioners report that patients find relief from many different ailments thanks to shiatsu. Although these results have not been studied extensively, traditional medical practitioners report that shiatsu usually doesn't hurt when done in concert with traditional medicine. Some of the areas where shiatsu can help include PMS symptoms, chemotherapy side effects, migraines, digestive problems and skin problems.