The FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Before booking an appointment, you may have one or two questions to ask. Please feel free to give us a call on 020 8523 2669 or alternatively, browse through the items below (click on the question). As indicated, all answers have been provided by reputable governing bodies.

The information below is purely for general guidance and must not be taken as medical advice or diagnosis for personal conditions.



Is Shiatsu just massage?

Shiatsu has some features in common with European-style massage and other forms of bodywork in that the use of physical pressure and stretches serves to reduce muscular tension and loosen stiff joints. However, unlike massage, the receiver remains clothed during the treatment and the principal aim of Shiatsu is not to work on localised muscles and joints, but on the overall energy system of the client. This is the big difference between Shiatsu and other physical therapies. A Shiatsu practitioner working on a shoulder joint, for example, will not just be focusing on the joint but on the pattern of energy throughout the client’s body.

The Shiatsu Society

What is ‘qi’ ( also known as ‘chi’ or ‘ki’) and meridians?

In the oriental tradition the world is described in terms of energy. All things are considered to be manifestations of a vital universal force, called ‘Ki’ in Japanese or ‘Qi’ in Chinese. Ki flows throughout the body like a system of rivers and canals. Ki moves throughout the whole body but in certain defined pathways it flows in a more concentrated manner. These pathways are known as meridians. The meridians form a continuous circuit of channels that allow the flow of different aspects of Ki all over the body. Things may happen to upset the smooth flow of Ki, causing blockages or dams in some areas, and weaknesses or stagnant pools in others. These blockages or weaknesses in turn may lead to physical symptoms, to psychological or emotional disturbances, or simply to a feeling that things are just not quite right.

The Shiatsu Society

Do I have to be ill to receive Shiatsu?

No. People can receive Shiatsu purely for relaxation and enjoyment. Regular treatments may help to keep the body in harmony and ward off ill-health.

The Shiatsu Society

What is Shiatsu – How does it work?

Based on the initial diagnosis and on physical and visual feedback gained during the session, the practitioner will seek to even out perceived energy imbalances through pressure on the meridians, probably in conjunction with other techniques such as rocking, stretches and joint rotations. As with diagnosis, Shiatsu treatment is holistic, with the practitioner working on the whole body rather than focusing on the area where symptoms are most obvious. Shiatsu works best if the client is as relaxed and comfortable as possible, so you should close your eyes, relax your muscles (the practitioner will do all the work if movement is required) and refrain from speaking unless it’s really necessary. But let the practitioner know the moment you feel any discomfort or your body will start to tense up and the benefit of the session will be lost.

The Shiatsu Society

Can Shiatsu do any harm?

By the nature of Shiatsu, it is almost impossible for it to have harmful effects. The aim is to shift energy around the body in such a way as to relieve areas of tension and enliven weak areas. This is effectively a collaboration between the practitioner and the client’s body, which will instinctively want to do the same thing, but may need a little help to get started. Occasionally a new patient may have healing reactions after the first few sessions. These occur when toxins have been released during the treatment, and as these work out through the body there may be symptoms such as headache, stiffness, stomach upsets or diarrhoea, desire to urinate frequently, or lethargy. Such symptoms are transitory and soon pass, usually in 12 hours at most. Drinking plenty of spring water and resting will help, as well as asking the practitioner for advice and reassurance.

Emotional releases may take longer to work through, and indeed, over the course of a number of treatments, deep-seated emotional patterns or memories involving past emotions may be uncovered. These can have profound effects on the patient’s life. In such cases, extra contact between sessions may be necessary to talk through the reactions to treatment.

The Shiatsu Society