Shiatsu is a Japanese bodywork therapy which uses gentle pressure, stretches and rotations to release tension, settle the mind and harmonise the energy in the body. It uses the same principles as acupuncture but shiatsu, meaning 'finger pressure', replaces needles with hands and fingers and thus has all the nourishing benefits of intuitive touch. It is a deeply relaxing treatment and regular sessions can help prevent illness and enhance wellbeing.

Shiatsu developed from traditional Chinese healing methods. It works on the body's energy or Ki which flows through a network of channels or meridians in the body. These relate to the internal organs as defined in traditional Chinese medicine, each of which have a wide range of functions which encompass our mental, emotional and spiritual condition, as well as our physical state.

When the free flow of Ki is blocked, we can develop an imbalance which manifests in symptoms. Shiatsu can help release these blocks and revitalise areas of stiffness or weakness, which can relieve the symptoms. When pressure is applied to specific points along the meridians the Ki in the channel is affected and thus some aspect of our body and mind.

The essence of a shiatsu session is to re-establish a more harmonious free-flowing state through the skilled application of contact to the body.

Who can benefit

Anyone can benefit from shiatsu for the following reasons:-

"Shiatsu is a unique stand-alone complementary therapy which supports health and well-being. I am pleased to be associated with the Shiatsu Society (UK) to raise awareness of the spirit and ethos of Shiatsu and the development of integrated and accessible healthcare."
Dr Hilary Jones, GP and TV Medic
  • It calms and relaxes mind & body
  • It can help restore and balance energy levels
  • It eases tension and stiffness & can help improve posture
  • It can benefit circulation, breathing and immunity
  • It is compatible with other medical treatments
  • It is suitable for all ages

Shiatsu can also address a wide range of conditions from specific injuries to symptoms such as:-

  • stress anxiety insomnia fatigue
  • headaches and migraines
  • back neck and shoulder tension
  • digestive problems
  • menstrual and menopausal problems
  • side effects of cancer treatment
  • emotional problems


A study carried out by the University of Leeds on behalf of the European Shiatsu Federation in 2006-7 in 3 countries (948 participants) established that shiatsu:-

  • increased relaxation and a sense of calm
  • increased energy and the ability to cope
  • is effective in treating symptoms of stress and tension, problems with muscles and joints including back pain and posture, low energy and fatigue
  • reduced physician/hospital visits over time
  • reduced the use of conventional medication

A Systematic Review of Evidence conducted by London South Bank University has only just been published which confirms that there is a good evidence base for the use of shiatsu with musculoskeletal and psychological problems.

Helen Fung MRSS – E: