|When physical or emotional
stress occurs internally, it also manifests itself externally,
in skin and muscle tissue. As a result, specific points
or regions can become painful, tense, sensitive, indented,
etc. Oriental medicine succeeded in developing a system
of therapy that uses these points not only for diagnosis,
but also treatment. Acupuncture and shiatsu affects the
body's internal condition by manipulating the peripheral
or external tissues. The treatment results acupuncture
and shiatsu achieve have been explained by oriental medicine
for centuries while modern medicine is just beginning
to propose explanations for their effectiveness.
A MODERN MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE
Acupuncture and shiatsu stimulate the body to produce
its own pain-relieving chemicals called "endorphins",
which are also known as "anti-stress hormones".
Gate Control Theory: Pain
is transmitted from the periphery to the brain via
the spinal cord. There is a mechanism (or "gate")
at work in the spinal cord, which stops pain messages
from reaching the brain. The insertion of the thin
needles of acupuncture or the holding pressure of
shiatsu can close this gate, thus lessening the
sensation of pain. Endorphins (above) can also block
pain pathways by acting on these gates.
Autonomic Nervous System:
The autonomic nervous
system is responsible for coordinating and conducting
all of the body's involuntary functions. Acupuncture
and shiatsu "turn on" the conserving,
healing function of the autonomic nervous system
while overriding the fight-or-flight function which,
when overactive, puts a great deal of wear and tear
on our bodies and minds.
Trigger Point Theory:
Through clinical research,
western physicians have discovered specific points
of tension in the body that, when released, are
particularly effective in the alleviation of musculo-skeletal
pain. The locations of these points remarkably correlate
with the acupuncture points of oriental medicine.
AN ORIENTAL MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE
In Japan, Oriental medicine
is called the medicine of vital energy. The explanation
of its effectiveness is based on an energetic model
rather than the biochemical model of western medicine.
Ancient oriental physicians recognized that vital
energy (called Ki in Japanese or Qi in Chinese)
circulates along channels or meridians throughout
the body and links all of the body's parts and functions.
Ki maintains and nurtures our physical body as well
as our mind. It keeps the blood circulating, warms
the body and fights disease. When a person is healthy,
Ki flows smoothly through the channels but if, for
some reason, the flow is blocked, weak, or excessive,
then symptoms and/or illness occurs.
In treatment, the aim of the therapist is to correct
the flow of Ki by inserting needles or applying
pressure to specific points along the channels.
In so doing, a change in part or function of the
body is achieved. Changes in Ki precede physical
change, so acupuncture and shiatsu can act as preventive
medicine, correcting energy flow before a serious
illness occurs. If physical change has already occurred,
it can be reversed by adjusting the flow of Ki.
Shiatsu Abdominal Diagnosis
"Traditional" here refers
to shiatsu used as a form of Oriental medicine.
Shiatsu has several different styles. One of the most
respected is Shizuto Masunaga's style, which was refined
from an ancient Japanese massage called anma. Classical
anma is a form of Oriental medicine that is characterized
by the application of manual Tonification and Sedation
techniques to Kyo and Jitsu acupuncture points or meridians,
principles similar to those used in acupuncture.
Classical anma had almost disappeared in Japan but Masunaga
revived it by combining anma principles with the three
governing shiatsu techniques of vertical pressure, stationary
pressure and supporting pressure.
The aim of Masunaga's shiatsu is to stabilize acute or
chronic disharmony in the body by 1) identifying the root
cause and 2) applying Tonification and Sedation techniques
to regions of Kyo and Jitsu (see below).
KYO AND JITSU
The quality or nature of ki
in a meridian line or channel is defined by "Kyo"
and "Jitsu". These concepts are very similar
to yin and yang. Kyo is the condition of hypo, or depleted
energy while Jitsu is the condition of hyper, or excess
energy. In Kyo, a depression or indentation will be
felt in the region and it will be empty or cold. In
Jitsu, pain or tension will be felt in the region and
it will be congested or warm. Not only can acupuncture
points and meridian lines be divided into Kyo and Jitsu,
so can the body's constitution and stages of illness.
Tonification techniques can be applied to conditions
of Kyo and sedation techniques can be applied to conditions
of Jitsu to help normalize them.
The palpation and diagnosis of Kyo and Jitsu is not
only important to shiatsu treatment, but also an essential
diagnostic tool in acupuncture. A classic Oriental medicine
book states that Kyo and Jitsu must first be found in
the meridian through "touching diagnosis"
before administering acupuncture or moxibustion. After
the treatment is completed, the same initial procedure
of touching is repeated. Even though the meridian is
stimulated with acupuncture or moxibustion, better results
can be achieved with the addition of touching diagnosis.
However, some acupuncture techniques do not employ touching
diagnosis and, as a result, the needles must be inserted
more deeply or in greater number in order to achieve
the desired result.
Tonification techniques are used
to restore vital energy (ki) to an area of Kyo. A long,
stationary or holding pressure is used with patience
as it takes time for the nurturing warmth to reach deep
inside the tissues and for strength to be restored to
the area. With Sedation, or Dispersion techniques, the
Jitsu area of excess or congestion is stimulated by
rotary movement or short, stationary pressure. The concentration
of ki is unblocked so that it can move smoothly along
the meridian and the area will normalize itself. Tonification
techniques are most useful in the treatment of root
or underlying causes while Sedation techniques are most
often employed in local treatment or the treatment of
Shiatsu treatments are generally
relaxing as a deep but gentle pressure is normally used.
The intensity of pressure applied is adjusted according
to your condition in order to minimize discomfort. Certain
areas of your body, however, may feel tender during
or following the treatment.
The number of treatments will vary
with each individual and the condition being treated.
For acute problems, only a few treatments may be required.
In some cases, one treatment will be sufficient. For
complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments
a week for several weeks may be recommended with less
frequent treatments necessary as improvement occurs.
As in any form of healing, the patient's attitude, diet,
determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome
of a course of treatment. Oriental medicine is also
an educational process in which the patient becomes
more aware of his or her own body, thus increasing its
ability to maintain well being.
Ideally, acupuncture and shiatsu therapy is used as
preventive medicine. Depending on each patient's lifestyle,
regular weekly or monthly treatments can keep both body
and mind in balance.
Shiatsu has analgesic, relaxing, toning, balancing, and restorative effects on the body. Some conditions that are successfully treated include:
Headache & Migraine
Pelade (Patchy hair-loss)
TMJ (Jaw pain)
Neck & shoulder pain
TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome)
Tennis elbow & Golfer's elbow
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Numbness in hands
Rib & back pain
Buttocks, Tailbone & groin pain
Achilles tendon pain
Rehabilitation from injury and surgery
PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome incl. menstrual cramps)
Other menstrual irregularities
Discomforts of pregnancy (after the fourth month)
Poor circulation (Cold hands & feet)
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Stress-related digestive disorders (incl. stomach ulcer)
Normalizing bowel function (incl. diarrhea & constipation)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Autonomic imbalance (Autonomic dysfunction)
Masamichi (Daichan) Shibata, R.Ac., Vancouver, BC. Japanese lincensed massage, anma and shiatsu therapist