Shiatsu is a Japanese style of massage. It is based in the same system that we use with acupuncture, but differs in its method. Instead of using needles, shiatsu uses the pressure from both the palms of the hands and the thumbs. Another differences is that while needles tend to stimulate a few specific points on a channel, shiatsu tends to engage long sections of the channel. It is like of a fusion between acupressure and massage.
As a practitioner, I enjoy employing shiatsu not only for musculoskeletal pain for more sensitive patients, but also for patients who are suffering from anxiety and depression. I have often found that patients with these conditions benefit greatly from a combination of acupuncture and shiatsu. The acupuncture is able to address the more subtle aspect of the disharmony, while the shiatsu relaxes the muscle layer, and in my experience, aids in the efficacy of the acupuncture treatment.
Research has been done with shiatsu as related the stress levels in autistic children. In cases where the child had six weeks with one 20 minute session a week, parents reported that the shiatsu helped alleviate stress in their children . Studies have also been done suggesting that regular massage may correlate to a decrease in blood pressure levels by virtue of reducing stress levels . Shiatsu has also been studied as a way to decrease the experience of pain in burn victims. The study found that patients who had shiatsu in addition to their regular pain medication experienced a statistically significant level of pain reduction compared to patients who had no shiatsu.