The shiatsu massage chair has become very popular in recent years. It is based on the ancient Japanese massage technique of shiatsu, which differs from basic Western massage techniques. Western massage relies more upon kneading and rubbing, but shiatsu is based upon applying pressure. This is even evident in its name, the direct translation from Japanese means finger (shi) pressure (atsu). An experienced practitioner will not only use their fingers, but also their knuckles, elbows, palms, and thumbs, and a few will even use their knees and feet when they need to apply heavy pressure!
The Japanese regard shiatsu so highly that it is a regulated and licensed medical therapy in Japan by their Ministry of Health and Welfare, whose official definition is: Shiatsu technique refers to the use of fingers and palm of one's hand to apply pressure to particular sections on the surface of the body for the purpose of correcting the imbalances of the body, and for maintaining and promoting health. It is also a method contributing to the healing of specific illnesses.
Today in Japan there are two main schools of shiatsu: one based on western anatomical and physiological findings, and the other based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The original school of thought practices shiatsu based on TCM uses shiatsu massage to work the acupuncture points along the body's energy channels (also called meridians) to balance a persons energy flow. This is a great form of treatment for Westerners who are interested in acupuncture but are put off by the needles.
A formal school of shiatsu therapy based upon Western medicine was first opened in Japan in 1940, but it was not until the 1970's when shiatsu techniques started to appear outside Japan. Today over a dozen philosophies or variations exist of shiatsu, and since the 1980's, most of these variations have occurred in North America and Europe.
Though there is little scientific support for the healing properties of a shiatsu massage, no one can dispute the overall feeling of good health and stress relief that is brought on by one of these massages. As massage has become more main stream in western society, the massage industry boomed. Companies have sought ways to make a massage accessible to more Americans. This brought on the massage chair industry in the 1980's. These chairs have slowly become more deluxe, and with the interest in shiatsu, the popularity of the shiatsu massage chair has boomed. This has especially been great for individuals who do not feel comfortable going to a massage therapist, they can enjoy a massage in the privacy of their own home.
Almost any shiatsu massage chair on the market today offers a variety of massage techniques, including compression, kneading, percussion, and rolling. The application of pressure that is key in shiatsu massage is applied in chairs by rollers. In a good quality chair, you can control the rollers to move up and down your back, you can control the width between the rollers, and also how much pressure is being applied.
Though a quality shiatsu massage chair may seem like it would cost a lot of money, it is really an investment in your health. It is like having your own personal massage therapist on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year! These chairs do not provide just a back massage, but also neck, leg and foot massages. Besides relaxing your muscles, a shiatsu massage chair also rejuvenates the mind and body and reduces fatigue, providing a whole body experience. I have never met a person who regretted purchasing a shiatsu massage chair.
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