What Is Shiatsu Massage? Learn All About The Technique

What is shiatsu massage, and which benefits can you expect? This massage technique is one of the most popular globally and is getting more traction by the day. So, before you decide to book your first appointment or get an at-home massager, we wanted to share the history, principles, and benefits of shiatsu massage with you. 

The History of Shiatsu

Where does shiatsu originate from, and how did it all begin? Shiatsu is a form of medical treatment in Japan, the place where it all started back in the 1930s. The first records that show the existence of shiatsu are from 1939 and are a part of the book Shiatsu-hou. It was Master Tenpeki Tamai who described how he performed his massages and why they differed from the techniques used in Japan until then. Tenpeki introduced pieces of modern medicine into his work, which made it more exciting and innovative for people. 

Tokujiro Namikoshi is the person who introduced shiatsu to a wider audience. After graduating from physiotherapy, he opened his own Shiatsu College. He explored traditional Chinese medicine and modern Western medicine, merged them, and started teaching his findings to students. Although Namikoshi is not the inventor of shiatsu, he is often referred to as the main contributor to this technique. 

The word shiatsu means finger pressure, which partially explains the technique. Aside from pressure with their fingers, massage therapists also use their palms, elbows, knuckles, knees, and even feet. Don’t expect gentle pressure and the relaxing experience you get during an aromatherapy massage. Shiatsu isn’t necessarily harsh, but the therapist will ensure to target muscle tension through the entire body, boost the blood circulation, and alleviate chronic pain. 

The Principles of Shiatsu

What does the shiatsu technique include, and how is it different from other types of massage therapy? This therapeutic massage is based on the principle of energy flow, better known as Chee, Qi, or Ki. According to the principle, there are 14 primary meridians in the body, and energy flows through all of them. If that flow is interrupted, the body experiences pain and difficulties. 

Shiatsu aims to eliminate everything that interferes with the flow and bring the energy levels back up. Practitioners explore where the disruption is through palpation, then apply pressure to points located on the meridians. Once the massage is done, these channels will be free again, and the energy will be flowing freely. It doesn’t matter whether you’ll opt for a therapist or an at-home shiatsu massager, the benefits will be the same, and you’ll feel much better after every session. 

Shiatsu is very similar to acupuncture since both techniques use pressure points and meridian channels. The major difference is that acupuncture uses needles, and shiatsu uses hands, fingers, knuckles, feet, knees, etc. 

If this is your first time getting a shiatsu massage, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, the massage therapist won’t ask you to take your clothes off. In other words, you’ll stay with your clothes on, so wear something comfy. Next, you won’t lay on a table but the floor. Finally, you will leave the session filled with energy and happy with the results. 

The Benefits of Shiatsu Massage 

Why should you try a shiatsu massage, and can you benefit from an at-home electric massager? Going to a massage therapist can be pretty costly, so you can save a lot by getting a massager and using it whenever you want to. But, before you decide to make a purchase, you should get familiar with the many benefits of this technique. 

Helps with Foot Pain

If you’ve been dealing with sore, painful feet, and you have to spend hours moving around or standing, getting a massage can be the best thing ever. What is Shiatsu foot massage? This massage uses the same technique we described before but focuses on the feet. A foot massager will apply pressure to the right points, reduce or eliminate pain, and help you feel like a brand-new person. In addition, these devices are quite useful for people dealing with plantar fasciitis.

Another great idea is getting a foot spa massager that will both massage your feet and imitate an expensive spa experience. These electric foot massagers allow you to control the temperature, add oils, release bubbles, heat up the water, and treat your pain and soreness while you relax and watch a movie. 

Helps with Back and Neck Pain

A rolling massage with your neck and back massager is all you need to deal with the pain that comes from poor posture, trauma, injuries, heavy lifting, etc. Unfortunately, as a result of our busy lifestyles, most of us suffer from neck and back pain, which can also lead to headaches, body aches, tension, trouble sleeping, and much more. Getting an at-home massager means enjoying a nice, relaxing massage whenever you want and being pain-free. 

Helps Your Mental Health

Shiatsu will boost the dopamine in your body to make you happier, calmer, and more relaxed. Getting a massage will positively affect your mental and physical health. Since this technique reduces muscle soreness, tension and boosts serotonin and dopamine, it helps patients struggling with anxiety and depression. In addition, it lowers cortisol, the hormone your body produces when it’s stressed out. 

Regulates Blood Pressure and Improves Circulation

Shiatsu massages boost blood flow, which speeds up the healing process and fights inflammation. The improved blood flow also applies to the digestive system, which means better bowel function and less constipation. Since shiatsu provides a relaxing experience and balances the energy, it’s helpful for people who struggle with high blood pressure. 


Although massages are still considered alternative therapies, they can be very beneficial to your health and help you deal with many health issues. Shiatsu is one of the most popular techniques that help people who struggle with joint pain, muscle stiffness, fatigue, stress, anxiety, muscle aches, depression, high blood pressure, improper posture, and much more. One session with a therapist is an excellent idea, but at-home back, neck, and foot massagers are the long-term investment to consider.