Shiatsu is a kind of therapeutic massage where pressure is applied with the thumbs and palms on the areas of the body as in acupuncture.

Definition of Shiatsu

“Shiatsu technique refers to the use of fingers and palm of one’s hand to apply pressure to particular sections on the surface of the body for the purpose of correcting the imbalances of the body, and for maintaining and promoting health. It is also a method contributing to the healing of specific illnesses.” Japanese medical department of the Ministry of Welfare (Current Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) in December 1957 This manipulative therapy Shiatsu developed in Japan. It is the incorporation of anma (Japanese traditional massage), acupressure, stretching, and Western massage. In Shiatsu pressure is applied on specific areas or special points on the body to sustain physical and mental well being or treat disease. Shiatsu reduces stress and alleviates nausea and vomiting. It also improves circulation and the immune system. Shiatsu also proved helpful in treating diarrhea, indigestion, constipation, disorders of the gastrointestinal tract; menstrual and menopausal problems; chronic pain; migraine; arthritis; toothache; anxiety; and depression; neck and back pain; insomnia. The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare acknowledged shiatsu as a beneficial treatment, and licensing was established for practitioners. Side effectsWhen performed properly, shiatsu is not associated with any significant side effects.

Education/ Certification/ Standardization in Shiatsu therapy

Tokujiro Namikoshi founded the Japan Shiatsu College in 1940 and systematized a form of Shiatsu therapy based more on Western anatomy than traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine.  In Japan, anyone who practices Shiatsu therapy must be licensed with the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Shiatsupractors are required to study at least three years/2,200 hour educational program of Shiatsu therapy in the universities or colleges which authorized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and pass the national exam to be licensed. In the U.S., one professional organization for Asian Bodywork Therapy (including Shiatsu) is the AOBTA (American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia). This organization is seeking statewide standardization of Asian Bodywork licensure requirements. To date, the AOBTA has been named specifically in the licensure laws of Illinois and Washington, DC. The AOBTA is also working with the NCCAOM (National Certification Council for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) to introduce mandatory, standardized national board certification to the profession.


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