What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is a traditional hands-on Japanese therapy.  It can help in a wide range of conditions – from specific injuries to more general symptoms of poor health.  Shiatsu is a deeply relaxing experience and regular Shiatsu sessions help to prevent the build up of stress in our daily lives.

Common conditions which have been helped by Shiatsu:

*          Back pain

*          Neck stiffness

*          Joint pain / reduced mobility

*          Sports injuries

*          Stress

*          Insomnia

Background to Shiatsu:

The philosophy underlying Shiatsu is vital energy (‘Ki’ in Japanese) flows throughout the body in a series of channels called ‘meridians’.  For many different reasons Ki can stop flowing freely and this then produces a symptom.  Shiatsu is based on the underlying principles of oriental medicine, as is acupuncture.

Your practitioner will consider your state of health, your symptoms and, depending on your constitution and general energy levels, will use a variety of techniques to improve your energy flow.  These may include gentle holding, pressing with palms, thumbs, fingers, elbows, knees and feet on the meridians and, when appropriate, more dynamic rotations and stretches.

As the Ki changes, the symptoms associated with a lack of flow will gradually improve.  Shiatsu is a therapy that works on the individual as a complete being – not just the physical body but also on an emotional and/or mental level.   By balancing out the flow of energy, we feel more harmonious and relaxed.

What to expect in a session

Each session lasts approximately one hour.  The first session may be slightly longer since your practitioner will take a detailed case history to develop a complete picture of health according to the principles of oriental medicine.

The session usually takes place on a padded mat (futon) at floor level, although it is possible to receive Shiatsu sitting on a chair if you are unable to lie down. The client stays fully clothed.  Following a treatment, there can be a feeling of increased vitality and you may feel invigorated yet relaxed.

Each practitioner is independent so charges will vary.  Throughout the UK the average cost of a one hour session is around £25.

shiatsu-Photoshoot-2005-032Benefits of Shiatsu:

*          It relaxes mind and body

*          It restores and balances energy

*          It eases tension and stiffness

*          It improves posture

*          It enhances well being

Guidelines for Receiving Shiatsu:

*          Please bring or wear loose, warm, comfortable clothing, preferably cotton e.g. sweatshirt, tracksuit trousers and cotton socks.

*          Do not eat heavily in the two hours prior to treatment.

*          Do not drink alcohol before or after treatment.

*          After treatment drink plenty of water to smooth the flow of changes through the system.

*          If at all possible avoid strenuous or stressful activities after your session.

 Finding a Qualified Shiatsu Practitioner

The Shiatsu Society (UK) maintains two public registers of qualified practitioners:


Members of the Professional Register of the Shiatsu Society (M.R.S.S.) have been assessed for professionalism and clinical expertise by an independent panel of senior practitioners and teachers of Shiatsu.


Members on the Graduate Listing hold diplomas from the Society’s recognised schools following a minimum of three years of training, but have not yet passed the independent M.R.S.S. assessment.

Members of both registers of the Shiatsu Society are:-

*          Current professional members of the Society,

*          Covered by professional indemnity insurance to a level set by the Society, and

*          Provide a signed agreement to abide by the Society’s Code of Ethics and Conduct

Names of the M.R.S.S. and Graduate practitioners are available from the Society’s office or website.

What makes Shiatsu different?

Shiatsu is quite unique as it is one of the only complementary therapies where the client remains fully clothed at all times.

The Shiatsu Society (UK)

The Society (a not-for-profit organisation) was set up in 1981 to facilitate communication within the field of Shiatsu and to inform the public of the benefits of this form of natural healing.  Since then, the Society has grown considerably to form a network linking interested individuals, students and teachers, and to fulfil the role of Professional Association for Shiatsu Practitioners.  The Society also hold a list of recognised schools throughout the UK which all have a minimum of three of the Society’s Teachers working for them.


There has been much research carried out on the effectiveness of Shiatsu.  One research report looking at the effects of Shiatsu on the lower back pain found that pain decreased significantly after each treatment, especially immediately after the treatment.  Anxiety also decreased after each treatment. (Brady L.H., Henry K, Luth JF, Casper-Bruett KK.  The Effects of Shiatsu on Lower Back Pain).

A separate research report identified a range of benefits, including improvements in energy levels, relaxation, confidence, symptom control, clarity of thought and mobility. (Chessman S, Christian R, Cresswell J, Exploring the Value of Shiatsu in Palliative Care Day Services).

Another publication explored the possible benefits of Shiatsu for carers in the community and found that 96% said they thought the course of Shiatsu had been beneficial.  (Formby J, Shiatsu massage for Carers).

European Shiatsu Federation Research Project

The European Shiatsu Federation commissioned a qualitative piece of research carried out by Professor Andrew Long at Salford University.  He looked at the research and documentation of experiences and effects of Shiatsu across Europe.  The aim was that it would provide a platform from which to solidly describe Shiatsu and its benefits, as well as helping to launch more specific projects.  The research was in two phases.  The results have shown that Shiatsu is a safe therapy and can help with back pain.

Shiatsu Society (UK)
P O Box 4580
Rugby CV21 9EL
Tel: 0845 130 4560


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.