Shiatsu literally means finger pressure and the practitioner applies pressure to the body with fingers, thumbs, elbows knees or feet. Working on principles of Chinese Medicine, the idea is that the body's energy or Chi needs to be strong and in balance for good health. The practitioner's work helps the Chi flow more smoothly, making use of acupuncture meridians or energy channels and points, which can help boost the organs in the body for better health and well being.
The treatment addresses the whole person and how their energy is affected by their life, not just the immediate symptoms.
Shizuto Masunaga developed the foundations of shiatsu, allowing it to become what it is today. He was able to further extend the traditional meridian lines in the body by following the sensations of the different meridians, and it is these paths which shiatsu practitioners use today.
Masunaga saw the meridian as a living metaphor, which described a person's energy in terms of needs and functions. This helps us understand in an immediate way how the energetic imbalances in our body have arisen and how we may address and treat these imbalances in our bodies and our lives.
Masunaga also introduced the concept of Kyo and Jitsu energy in the body. The Kyo are the places of deepest need, which when treated satisfy at a very deep level. The Kyo areas have a connection to a corresponding Jitsu area, energy which arises as a result of, or are compensating in some way for, these deep needs. The jitsu area can manifest as discomfort or tension and can disperse when the corresponding Kyo is treated, bringing greater balance and well-being.