Shiatsu massage: what it is and its benefits

Shiatsu massage: the ancient Japanese technique to rediscover well-being

Taking care of your psychophysical well-being is important, and shiatsu massage is one way to reduce the side effects of stress and regain inner balance.

The word Shiatsu comes from the union between the two terms shi, meaning “finger”, and Atsu, meaning “pressure”, a practice widespread in Japan since the sixth century and aims to stimulate the process of self-healing of the individual through sustained, constant and perpendicular pressures on the body.


The massage techniques of shiatsu are carried out mainly with the fingertips, but also with the elbows, feet, knees and palms of the hands. During the massage, the operator comes into contact with the vital energy of the recipient, called ki, stimulating its natural flow.

The treatment consists of applying pressure with the balls of the thumbs, fingers and the palms of the hands in specific points distributed on the surface of the body called tsubo in Japanese, where fatigue and stress accumulate. These points were identified by therapists of ancient China who used them to define a system of diagnosis and treatment still used all over the world today: acupuncture.

This alternative medical practice is considered the inspiration of shiatsu massage and had spread also in other parts of Asia, including Japan. In the 18th century, traditional Japanese massage practitioners used acupuncture to refine their technique.

The word shiatsu was first used in 1920 by the Japanese physiatrist Tokujiro Namikoshi who in 1940 founded the Shiatsu University of Japan and devoted himself to the study of the human body, articulations and movements for over forty years to improve the Shiatsu method.

Shiatsu is founded on five pillars:

  1. the respiration
  2. the posture
  3. the perpendicularity
  4. the pressure
  5. the feeling of pleasure/pain.

The pressure is effective if carried out with consideration of five elements:

  1. the use of the right working tool
  2. a correct operator position
  3. a correct identification of the area on which to operate
  4. the operator’s attention
  5. three pressure phases: entry, stasis, exit.

Shiatsu massage: the principal styles and main benefits of the treatment

There are different styles of shiatsu massage, but the most common are those that refer to the teachings of two schools: that of the already mentioned master Namikoshi and that of Shizuto Masunaga, Japanese psychologist and scholar of traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine.

Here are the main styles:

  • Ho (Shiatsu Ryoho)
  • Namikoshi
  • Palombini
  • Masunaga
  • Koho
  • Tao
  • Mio-energetic
  • Ohashi
  • Hiron
  • Yoseido
  • Sei Shiatsu Dô
  • Marocrobiotic
  • Ryotan Tokuda
  • The Holistic
  • Meiso
  • Yin
  • Watsu
  • Tantsu
  • Sotai Ho
  1. the self-shiatsu or self-balancing should also be part of this list, it does not need any special equipment and is performed alone as long as you have a quiet space and some time for yourself. Self-shiatsu improves self-knowledge, promotes psychophysical well-being and refines the perceptual qualities related to contact with the personal energy field. The self-massage is especially useful at the end of the day because it helps to loosen the tensions accumulated in the neck and back.

Let’s see which are the ten benefits of shiatsu massage:

  1. Stimulates the immune system and slows down the process of cellular ageing;
  2. Improves digestion and reduces gastrointestinal disorders
  3. Relaxes the nervous system
  4. Fights joint and cervical pain and muscle tension
  5. Soothes headaches if of nervous or muscular origin
  6. Effective against menstrual pain
  7. Improves blood and lymphatic circulation
  8. Improves posture and concentration
  9. Restores body balance and helps fight insomnia

10 Reduces stress, anxiety and tension.

Shiatsu massage: the Thalasso Etching & Spa at Forte Village

The Acquaforte Thalasso & Spa at Forte Village, an award-winning resort surrounded by the beautiful Sardinian sea, is the perfect place to give yourself a nice relaxing break, forget about stress and regain a mental and physical balance.

In addition to the positive effects of shiatsu massage, which relieves tensions and restores energy to every part of the body, at Thalasso Acquaforte & Spa you can experience the benefits of other numerous treatments inspired by the principles of philosophy and holistic therapy: from aromatherapy, which dissolves stress and fights insomnia, to four-handed massage, which stimulates circulation and muscle tone, up to honey and salt massage, which purifies the skin leaving it soft and hydrated.

Also, in the beautiful Ayurvedic Park, guests of the resort can engage in meditation and practise the ancient discipline of yoga that combines spiritual research with a rejuvenating vision of body and respiration.

Do you want to experience the benefits of shiatsu massage and experience a dreamy holiday in a true paradise? Discover the Forte Village Resort in Sardinia.

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