What is Shiatsu? - Effects and Procedure of Shiatsu Massage

Are you wondering"What is Shiatsu?" or are you looking for a new form of relaxation?

Shiatsu massage is holistic treatment and mindful bodywork. 

  • Shiatsu is more than just body therapy – it's a Japanese method that considers the whole human being. Through gentle and also intense pressure on the body, mobilizing joints, and stretching muscles, Shiatsu massage activates your body to balance itself.

  • Shiatsu is about experiencing the moment without overthinking it. The touch and pressure of the massage are means to connect with the energetic and emotional movements in your body.

  • With Shiatsu, you learn to understand your body and yourself better. This leads to changes and helps you find your strengths and establish a deeper connection with yourself. Dive into the philosophy and practices that make Shiatsu an intense experience for body, mind, and soul.

Here you will find a deep dive into the effects of Shiatsu, the procedure of a Shiatsu massage, and when Shiatsu is best applied.

Dive into the philosophy and practices that make Shiatsu an intense experience for body, mind, and soul.

Was ist Shiatsu?
Shiatsu is holistic treatment and mindful bodywork 
Shiatsu Wirkung

Shiatsu is Japanese body therapy

The effect of Shiatsu is based on an ancient Asian tradition of touch. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the 5-element theory combine in Shiatsu with methods of the original Japanese "Anma Massage" as well as acupressure.

Shiatsu massages as a holistic therapy are therefore always embedded in the understanding and philosophy of oriental medicine.

Wirkung von Shiatsu an den Haenden

Is Shiatsu a massage?

Yes - and more! Of course, during the Shiatsu treatment pressure is applied to meridians and Shiatsu points (acupuncture points). However, this pressure is much deeper than in a classic massage. The reason for this lies in the way the pressure is built up and maintained by the therapist.

In Shiatsu, the pressure comes from the practitioner's center of the body and is generated without any effort. As a result, the client's autonomic nervous system allows this pressure to sink deeper, as the body doesn't have to go into "defensive tension."

The result is a "massage" that reaches deep tissue layers, lymph vessels, fascia, muscles, and tendons. Rotations and twists of the joints also achieve deep relaxation, improve mobility, and promote blood circulation.

The positive effects of Shiatsu massage were recently confirmed in a Europe-wide study by the European Shiatsu Federation.

Die Wirkung von Shiatsu auf Körper und Geist

The effect of Shiatsu on body, mind, and soul

Shiatsu restores your balance on various levels:

  • Balance between the energy levels of the meridians
  • Harmony of Yin and Yang in the body ☯
  • Emotional balance
  • A balance of positive body tension and pleasant relaxation
  • A balance between change and stability

Balancing imbalances on a physical and mental level leads to deep well-being during and after a Shiatsu treatment. This principle is very important to me in my work approach.

Restoring this balance, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is the basis for improving physical, psychological, or even psychosomatic complaints.

The procedure of a Shiatsu treatment

Ablauf einer Shiatsu Behandlung: Fragen


A Shiatsu treatment always starts with a conversation about the current emotional and health status. During this conversation, as a Shiatsu practitioner, I perceive various impressions.

It's not just about what the client tells me. But also about the "how you tell it." 

By listening carefully, many things can be recognized that the client may not even be fully aware of. 

Ablauf einer Shiatsu Behandlung: Tasten


Next, I gently palpate the abdomen. From the tension states in the various areas of the abdomen and the rest of the body, it can be deduced which meridians are currently particularly tense or particularly empty.

In addition, the tongue, posture, and primary functions such as sleep or digestion may be very revealing about which imbalances currently exist, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

It's always about the holistic and wholesome point of view.

Ablauf einer Shiatsu Behandlung: Hinterfragen


The results from the conversation, visual impressions, and impressions from palpation provide a comprehensive insight about the current status of the client. To complete the whole picture, I ask myself:

  • Who is lying in front of me?
  • Where does this person come from?
  • What influences have shaped them?
  • Where may this person be going to develop?
  • Which imbalances prevent harmonious and healthy development?
  • What are the underlying patterns causing the complaints?

Ablauf einer Shiatsu Behandlung: Behandeln


The overall picture determines the treatment. Depending on the imbalance, I treat the client lying on their back, lying on their stomach, lying on their side, sitting, or standing. With firm, yet gentle pressure. With stretches and rotations.

These positions and techniques change several times during the treatment. This creates a certain dynamic in which the client is involved in the treatment process.

Ablauf einer Shiatsu Behandlung: Nachspüren und Genießen


It's also essential for me to reflect at the end of the treatment. After a few minutes of rest, the client and I discuss what was noticed during the treatment.

This also creates valuable insights that significantly improve the client's understanding of their emotional and health status.

Would you like to experience the effects of Shiatsu for yourself?

What is Shiatsu used for? - The applications and benefits of Shiatsu massages 

Shiatsu is not only a wonderful form of relaxation but also a versatile and effective treatment method for a variety of complaints.

Shiatsu offers comprehensive treatment that can be used both preventively and for acute and chronic complaints. Shiatsu massage stimulates the autonomic nervous system, especially the parasympathetic system, thus having a balancing effect on the entire organism.

The application areas of Shiatsu are diverse and can be beneficial for people of all ages and in different life situations. Here are some of the main application areas:

  • Acute and Chronic Pain

    Shiatsu can be helpful for a range of pain problems, including back pain, neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, sciatica, and migraines. The techniques and approach of Shiatsu aim to treat the underlying causes of pain.
    You can find out more about Shiatsu for back pain here.

  • Mental Issues

    Shiatsu can provide valuable support in treating mental complaints such as anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. The gentle touch and holistic view of the person help restore inner balance and increase well-being.

  • General Well-being

    In addition to treating specific complaints, Shiatsu also promotes general well-being. It can support headaches and sensitivity to weather, as well as fatigue, exhaustion, and lack of energy. If sleep disorders, stress, or burnout burden you, Shiatsu can have a calming and revitalizing effect.

  • Health Promotion

  • Shiatsu is also used for general health promotion and for energetic blockages. It can strengthen the immune system, help with digestive problems, support pregnancy accompaniment, and accompany women during menopause. It is also suitable for prevention and rehabilitation after accidents or illnesses.

Shiatsu offers a unique opportunity to bring body and mind into harmony and increase personal well-being. With its diverse application areas, it is a valuable complementary treatment method to medical treatment.

Frequently asked questions 
about the procedure and effects of Shiatsu massage

Who is Shiatsu suitable for?

Shiatsu is suitable for all ages. My youngest client so far was 6 months old, my oldest client fabulous 94 years old!

In my experience, Shiatsu can be beneficial for people in various life situations. Whether for stress reduction, relief of physical complaints, increasing general well-being, or support for emotional and mental challenges in work and family.

Shiatsu is not only beneficial for adults but also for children and teenagers. A Shiatsu massage helps school children and teenagers reduce fears and restlessness. Shiatsu therapy also promotes better posture and increases concentration.

How long does a Shiatsu treatment last?

A Shiatsu massage usually lasts 60 minutes, including the initial conversation. For a first treatment, I always like to take 75 minutes to really focus on you during the conversation.

I also like treating in a 90-minute session. This gives us even more time and freedom to consider your individual needs and wishes and achieve an intense Shiatsu experience.

In my online appointment schedule, you can easily book an appointment for a Shiatsu massage. 

Are muscle tensions released during a Shiatsu treatment, like in a classic massage?

The goal of a Shiatsu treatment is, of course, a deep and profound relaxation, including release of tensions in the body. However, compared to classic massage, Shiatsu goes far beyond that. It also involves an energetic balance in the meridians and deep tissue layers.

Do you work on a massage table or on the floor?

I treat in the traditional Japanese way on a comfortable, large mat on the floor. In my studio, I use original Japanese Tatami straw mats under the treatment mat. This way, you lie very comfortably and at the same time the treatment can have a deep effect with optimal pressure. Here you can see how my Shiatsu studio is equipped and how the treatment space looks like.

I have back pain and can't lie on the floor for long time. Is that a problem?

That's not a problem at all! Just show me which positions are comfortable for you, and I'll adjust the treatment accordingly. Furthermore, many comfortable pillows are available, with which I can support you optimally. Since I also change your body position during the Shiatsu massage several times, you never stay in one position for too long.

What do I wear for a Shiatsu massage? Do I have to undress for a Shiatsu treatment?

Shiatsu massage takes place in comfortable clothing. Therefore, it is not necessary for the client to undress.

It's best to wear particularly comfortable, long-sleeved cotton clothing that allows for stretching and that is easy to relax in. Please bring long pants, a long shirt, and socks to your treatment.

Of course, you can change in the cloakroom of my studio.

How do I feel after Shiatsu?

After a Shiatsu massage, you feel pleasantly relaxed and energized in body and mind. Many clients also describe a great clarity in their thoughts that they perceive after treatment.

You can also enjoy Shiatsu during a lunch break at work and then return to the working day with ease.

Is Shiatsu related to esotericism? Do I have to believe in it for the treatment to work?

Shiatsu is very concrete and immediately noticeable in the body. You don't have to believe in anything. It's about your physical experience, and you perceive it - at the moment of treatment and beyond.

What other tools do you use in your Shiatsu massage?

In my treatments, I like to use additional methods that support the Shiatsu massage further:

  • Moxa (Moxibustion) for clients who need additonal warmth
  • Cupping with cupping glasses is a method that is very effective for stubborn tensions and deep-seated stagnation
  • die Gua Sha method according to traditional chinese medicine to improve circulation and relieve tension in the neck/shoulder area

Of course we discuss all these methods before using them in the treatment.

Is Shiatsu dangerous?

Shiatsu by a trained Shiatsu practitioner is completely safe. In Shiatsu we do not work with needles, as with acupuncture. I massage with my hands, and in some techniques, elbows or knees are also used. 

The principle is always that the client feels comfortable. Shiatsu is not about enduring pain at all. It's important to me that the boundaries are always respected during the Shiatsu massage.

With this awareness of the limits and possibilities of the Shiatsu treatment, and responding to the needs of the client, Shiatsu is a very safe method.

There are no unpleasant side effects after Shiatsu treatment - quite the opposite! In the first few hours after a Shiatsu massage, you will feel energized, agile, and very pleasantly relaxed.

Is Shiatsu energy work? 

In Shiatsu therapy, we strive to restore the body's energetic balance. We focus on the meridians, our body's energy paths, which are closely related to the organs and the five elements – water, wood, fire, earth, and metal, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

How often may I get a Shiatsu massage?

You can enjoy Shiatsu as often as you want.

Depending on the issues that you want to treat, I recommend an interval for the Shiatsu treatments between weekly to once a month. This depends on your complaints as well as your time and financial resources. I am happy to evaluate the duration and interval of the Shiatsu massages in a treatment plan with you.

What is the difference between Shiatsu and Tuina massage?

Tuina is a type of massage from China, while Shiatsu was mostly developed in Japan. 

In Shiatsu, gentle finger pressure, stretches, and rotations are used to balance the body. Tuina uses more traditional massage techniques such as kneading and rubbing to release energy blockages in the body.

Both methods deal with energy flow, but they differ in their application and technique. 

Are Shiatsu massage pillows an alternative to Shiatsu treatments?

So-called "Shiatsu massage pillows" are certainly pleasant helpers for a tense neck, but they are by no means comparable to the application and effect of a Shiatsu massage by a professional Shiatsu therapist.

A proper Shiatsu treatment means letting go for an hour, receiving pleasent attention and touch from another person. So, the positive effects of Shiatsu are also very much related to the interaction from human to human.

In my Shiatsu massages, I also apply pressure, stretches, and rotations of the joints and vertebra - something a massage pillow cannot achieve.

Can Shiatsu help me with burnout?

In my Shiatsu diploma thesis study (a total of 210 Shiatsu treatments), I found that Shiatsu can significantly improve energy levels and sleep behavior in cases of burnout. 

In this video "Shiatsu for Burnout," you can learn more about the results of the study.

Get to know Shiatsu for free

You can easily book a free 30-minute introductory appointment online and experience my Shiatsu massage for yourself!

*) Shiatsu is a complementary method and does not replace medical diagnosis and treatment. If you have complaints, please always consult a doctor first.

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