This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage therapy (the word shiatsu means "finger pressure" in Japanese). Advocates say the practice promotes health and healing by correcting energy imbalances in the body.
Shiatsu practitioners use their fingers, thumbs, palms, elbows, knees, and feet to apply pressure to points along the body's main energy channels, known as meridians. The goal is to release energy where there are blockages and bring energy into areas that are depleted. Shiatsu, which is similar to acupressure, emphasizes the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease rather than treating a specific ailment.
Using massage to enhance well-being is a tradition that dates back to ancient China. The practice of touching specific points on the body was originally called anmo (anma by the Japanese). Over time, anma was dropped as a medical treatment and was used purely for pleasure and relaxation. In the twentieth century, however, a group of practitioners recognized the value of anma in easing muscle tension and soothing various kinds of aches and pains. They began promoting the art as a way to treat illness and changed the name to shiatsu.