The entire concept of Shiatsu is the idea of Shi (finger) and atsu (pressure), a massage therapy in which pressure from the fingers and hands is applied to the body of the recipient. Just the touch of the fingers to skin causes differing degrees of sensation. All sensations first sensed in the skin are transferred back to the brain for action by the nervous system. Such a complex organ deserves very careful handling.
Research has shown in numerous cases the impact that touch has on the body—how some children who were held and nurtured by their mothers while still infants grow up to be more stable than children who were left in hospital nurseries. Research tells of certain animals who survive alter birth only if the mother immediately licks off the baby. Animals that weren't licked off often died of some kind of internal functional failure. Hence, the impact of tactile stimulation may be a fundamental and essential ingredient of life that we have yet to fully understand. We do know that it seems to be a part of the healthy development of every kind of organism.
Shiatsu is quite simple to do once you are knowledgeable and experienced. For the novice, however, it takes serious Concentration and focus to perform the treatment on this highly sensitive tactile organ effectively, all the while developing a more sensitive sense of touch and point of reference. It is important, in mastering the art of Shiarsu, to be cognizant from the start of the inherent and dramatic effect touch has on you and the recipient. It is an art that takes focus, concentration, and practice to do well.
Take a close look at the inside of your hands and study the contours of your fingers. You’ll note an elevated tip on each finger and thumb. These elevated pads appear to have the greatest tactile sensitivity and lend themselves to effective Shiatsu massage. Although the palms of the hands are also used to perform Shiatsu, the primary tools are the thumbs and fingers.
The tips of the fingers should never be used for Shiatsu, although there are some in the field who would disagree. The weight and pressure for application must emanate from your body through the first pads of the thumbs and fingers. Pressure should also not be applied at the point between the first and second joint of the thumbs or fingers. Using the rips or joints can radically change the quality of the massage and the comfort of the recipient and can cause carpal tunnel syndrome and other ailments in the person performing the treatment.
As much as possible, the pressure should emanate from the position and movement of your body. This not only balances and keeps the pressure more even from the recipient’s standpoint but also rakes the stress and strain off your hands. Several different positions of the hands and fingers are available for use according to the area. The most common follow.
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