Whoa. “Shiatsu” is a crazy word. It’s pronounced she-ought-sue.
And it’s the best thing in the whole world.
The word Shiatsu means “thumb pressure,” but don’t let that fool you. This is way more than thumbs.
Shiatsu was developed in Japan as a form of massage based on Chinese medical principles. It’s the same medical system that acupuncture uses. The particular form of Shiatsu I learned draws from both Japanese Shiatsu and Chinese Amma. (Amma is the Chinese form of therapeutic massage).
Instead of focusing on individual muscles like a traditional Swedish massage (which are also amazing, I am by no means criticizing Swedish), Shiatsu is a whole-body experience. Front and back, arms and legs, neck, face, head, hands, feet – Shiatsu covers it all.
Shiatsu is performed in a kata – a routine, if you will – of massage techniques. Rocking, direct pressure, vibration, percussion and kneading are all incorporated.
The big differences from Swedish
First, you stay fully clothed for the entire massage. That said, comfortable clothing is best. Pretend you’re going to the gym.
Second, there are a few times when I get up on the massage table. This is primarily for leverage when working along the sides of the spine – it may seem odd at first, but trust me, the quality of pressure that I can give from these angles is considerably better.
Third, Shiatsu is whole-body. I stay longer in the areas you prefer, but it is never wise to neglect an area of the body. However, if you are AT ALL uncomfortable with receiving massage in a certain area, that is TOTALLY FINE. You’re paying me, it’s your massage.