What is Acupuncture & Shiatsu?

What is acupuncture?

Both acupuncture and shiatsu are based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which has been tried and tested over a few thousand years. The basic idea is to relax the muscles and joints and unblock the energy channels (meridians) so that any stagnation of Qi (vital energy) will be resolved and the balance restored. 

TCM based acupuncture addresses any underlying or constitutional issues as well as your main problem. The practitioner inserts fine sterile needles to stimulate specific points on the body which are selected according to the TCM theory.

Some of the selected points may not be close to the part of the body where you are having the problem, but the beauty of acupuncture is that it treats the whole person, not just the specific symptoms. In other words, each treatment is tailored to your specific needs and two patients with the same problem may have very different treatments. 

What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is a form of traditional Japanese physical therapy. It is one of the most recognized complementary therapies in Japan, like osteopathy or chiropractic in the western countries. It draws on traditional Chinese medicine theory and uses the same meridians and pressure points as acupuncture.

Shiatsu literally means “finger pressure” , but it is much more than acupressure. The practitioner may use the fingers, palms, forearms, elbows and knees to apply not only pressure but also gentle forms of manipulation like passive yoga-like stretches to release any tension/pain in the body.

The treatment is usually done on a mat or futon on floor level, rather than on a couch, while the receiver remains fully clothed and no massage oils are used in shiatsu.

The effects of shiatsu can be felt at different levels by different people. It feels like a combination of massage, yoga and meditation as if someone has done yoga for you. Some people have mentioned that they feel taller after the session whereas others feel calm and relaxed afterwards.

Related Articles

Q & A regarding acupuncture in the Zest magazine forums

"Busting the Myths of Acupuncture: Top 10 Common Myths Explained", Female First, 3 February 2012

"Time to Reset the Body Clock", Wahanda, 8 November 2011