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What does Shiatsu help with?

woman lying on futon receiving shiatsu

I was on a course once and when someone said their therapy helped with: everything, the course tutor snapped back with: and do you build the world on a Sunday? I understand the point the marketing tutor was making: if you tell someone your therapy is good for everything that doesn't really help them - people need specifics! You tell them that you will help their ease their back pain and they may come back with: Can you help my knee too? Yes you most likely can; and in holistic therapies where you're treated as the whole we'd probably find that your knee and back pain are intrinsically linked. The most googled phrase on shiatsu is: Can shiatsu help sciatica? Yes it can - here's the blog! The second most googled phrase is: What does Shiatsu help with? Today I'll give you a whistle stop tour on WHY shiatsu can help you with just about every ailment you have!

What does Shiatsu help with?

It starts with understanding how the body really works... and I don't mean the western medicine way (where you're carved up into body parts, systems and specialisms) I mean the Eastern energetic medicine way - how the body relates to itself and is one complex but well organised, hard-working, self-healing incredible organism that we take for granted and abuse daily and it still works. If we did to our cars what we do to our bodies you'd soon be sat looking at a bust radiator as it's over-heated and spluttered to a stinking, smoking halt. Luckily your body doesn't do that; it finds ways to compensate... continually.

Your body is a self-healing system but blockages caused by emotions and physical issues stop it from working efficiently. Shiatsu unblocks these so that your body can start working correctly and healing again.

I know you'll want a specific list of what shiatsu can help you with - Here is your starter list!

try shiatsu for conditions

In reality what Shiatsu helps you with is to address and resolve the underlying imbalances/blockages in your body's muscular and organ systems that manifest continually; that are caused by .... well..... living! The question I'm most asked is: But why does this happen? And my answer is always the same: life.

These imbalances are understood in Chinese medicine, the thousands of years old theory model on how the body works. Western medicine is only around 200 years old - that's what people forget. Yes it's lept forwards in terms of what it can see and test and it does it's best in a current world of nasty illnesses but if we took the Japanese health model which is to spend 96% of it's budget on prevention then we'd be a far healthier nation. Shiatsu is Japanese.

Modern Shiatsu stems from Chinese medicine and uses the acupuncture points and meridian system to tap into the body's hotspots to trigger a release of blockages to allow flow of energetics and fluids and stimulating healing. Chinese medicine has Tui-Na but Shiatsu has taken it a step further; it brings psychology heavily into play. In Chinese medicine the body mind is all as one so there is no separation for psychology and in the 1970's Shiatsu practitioner and psychologist Shizuto Masunaga married this up more potently giving us future practitioners a greater understanding and tool kit for helping people in a ever more toxic and stressed modern world.

How does the human body really work?

There are 2 types of ailments that attack the human system - internal ones and external ones. The latter is a relatively short list: poisons, accidents, toxins - toxins being the ones you're exposed to daily in the 100s if not 1000s!

Then there are internal ailments, anything from arthritis to auto-immune (when they're not sure what causes your issues only that this is what is happening). In many western diagnoses they aren't giving you the cause of the problem; only the symptom. When a potential client gives me the label of their diagnosis I want to know how they feel about that; and what they want to do about it? There in lies the resolution. If you give in to a label of a symptom diagnosis, for example Fibromyalgia then you'll not resolve it. Fibromyalgia is inflammation of the muscle fibres (symptom) and excruitatingly painful and debilitating. Your body becomes your prison; do you resign yourself to living within this or do you want to break out with all the help you can get? The current western medical model in this country for Fibro is pain management with medication. What fibro really needs is an understanding of the root emotional cause and to use any therapeutic toolkit available to resolve it.

You can see how mindset starts to interact with physical ailments and that's just the tip of the iceberg. With internally caused issues the deep rooted cause is emotion. I have books and books from China to American on the emotional cause of ailments. A lot of US doctors are cottoning on to this and writing up their theories, trademarking and releasing their new found system for health. Whenever I read any of them, they are tracking back to a Chinese medicine foundation whether they realise it or not. I have more respect for those that do realise it and state their theory stems from this origin but I do agree that all of them are tapping into the deeper reason why people are getting so sick and trying to explain this in a modern, palatable way. Learning Chinese medicine doesn't come over night (I'm 20 years in and still learning) so books like Louise L Hay that state the metaphysical link between ill health and your mindset are a great way of tapping into this knowledge simply.

often the hands will solve a mystery carl jung

The C word needs to be tackled at this point.

What causes cancer?

Toxins + emotions + body not working correctly.

To explain your body not working correctly simply: is to say that an organ like your liver isn't filtering as well as it should; your lymph system has become clogged with toxins as lymph becomes easily gelatenous with heat, lack of hydration and movement. An impairment in your gut means you're not getting nutrition to feed and help your body work properly from brain to bones and more. If you don't put fuel in the car it doesn't run (nutrients). If you put the wrong fuel in, it stops very quickly (processed foods) . If you don't clean the oil filter (the liver) it won't perform well until it stops doing it's primary function (removing toxins from the body). If you don't change the oil (lymph system) the rubbish in it stuffs up your engine. If that radiator is over heating (night sweats, sticky blood) you're going to get more health-related issues; and on it goes. A mechanical engine is a similar but much simpler representation of the complexities of a human (or animal) body. Am I building a clear enough picture?

Cancer is for the most part preventable. For breast cancer less than 10% originates from a genetic predetermination I was recently told by an oncology specialist; this means it's caused by lifestyle whether you realise it or not . If 1 in 7 women are currently being diagnosed these are shocking statistics and something preventative needs to be done about it. For a start there was a statistic that came out last year that the average woman is exposed to over 500 toxins before she even leaves the house in the morning; let that sink in. I digress you're probably wondering how shiatsu can help so I will tell you!

How does Shiatsu help you resolve symptoms?

If the underlying cause of a majority of ill health is blockages in the body that inhibit the body from working well to relieve health issues; then Shiatu aims to relieve those blockages with a physical treatment, and educate you on how to optimise your healthy living. The other important factor is emotional disconnect, stress or trauma - all linked. Taking one of the most simple examples - shoulder tension. Luckily a lot of people do seek a physical therapy of some sort to help alleviate neck, shoulder, back and knee pains. Not many therapies though will delve below the obvious to find out what that cause of the continual shoulder tension is. I think you already know the answer - stress and emotions.

Now apply that to every part of your body and just about all of your everyday ailments.

Colds/ bugs/ allergies - weakened immune system, cause: either gut microbiome impairment or high levels of stress and bad diet; or all of them.

Migraines cause: lack of circulation in the neck/ head from muscle tension leading to toxicity and inflammation.

Brain fog / anxiety / IBS -impaired gut health/ stuck in fight/flight response; worry.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) cause: reaction to stress, undealt with anger, liver function.

Back / knees / Plantar fasciatis (symptom) - muscular tension (from unresolved emotion) through pelvis and gluts.

Medical hint - if it ends in 'itis - it's an inflammation and a symptom; not a cause. Shiatsu is really good at helping combat any itis!

The one thing I've learnt about people and ailments over the last 20 years is that emotional issues manifest in different body parts and ailments. Take a large enough group though and you start to see patterns and similarities. I guess that's what the ancient Chinese culture did - they took large enough sample groups. Even though people present with a different selection of ailments or turn up with just the one major one that is causing them a lot of grief the underlying causes are very few.

When you know what those few things are you work on them all.

Andrea marsh shiatsu practitioner

I help clients relieve their issues and understand how to move forwards for optimal health. With the physical shiatsu treatment, lifestyle support, the right kind of movement, essential oils, Bach flower remedies, nutrition advice, and some herbals when needed. For example the liver always needs a good herbal - remember a drink called Dandelion and Burdock? Herbal remedy to support your liver function; now replaced with the likes of cola which stuff up your liver function!

When you understand how your body works at the simplest level you regain power of your own health. It starts with a Shiatsu treatment which is incredibly relaxing. I say that you leave feeling like you've had the best full body massage -you feel hugged and your body/mind/ailments listened too; you'll have the benefits of a powerful health modal leading you down the path of optimal health and longevity.

THAT is what shiatsu helps with.

Don't come for a shiatsu if you want to bury your head in the sand about your health. Shiatsu is one of the most intelligent therapies around - bringing mind and body together with powerful results. You will change for the better but you need to be ready for a change. Shiatsu is a preventative therapy, once your current health ailments are managed/ resolved treatments become about increasing your health and wellbeing. If you want a quick fix - you're not looking at your health holistically.

Your mind and body deserve more... You deserve Shiatsu

most people have no idea how goo their body is designed to feel

About  Andrea at  Shiastu  Bodyworks Cheltenham

Andrea is a qualified zen shiatsu and Chinese medicine practitioner with over 20 years immersed in holistic therapies and the energetics of mind and body. Based in Cheltenham, UK she offers in house clinic and online shiatsu sessions to help people with midlife health issues and also offers online consultations for helping you resolve health issues and regain your vitality. She is a menopause specialist too, find out more at


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