Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Shiatsu - what IS it and what can you expect??

I have to tell you - until Gracie Hvidston started working at Vitality for Life as our Shiatsu therapist I didn't know much about this ancient Japanese body therapy. Well I finally experienced it for myself and I really wanted to share with you my experience.

First off, here's a quick explanation of Shiatsu - Shiatsu is Japanese for “finger pressure” - it is a therapy with it's roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a non-invasive physical therapy aimed at relaxing the body’s nervous system from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state. Pressure is applied with the thumbs, palms, elbows and knees and held at specific acupuncture points along the meridians.

So what can you as a patient expect? Here's what happened during my treatment:

The room is set up similar to a massage therapy room - a massage table is used, the lights are low to create a peaceful environment and there is soothing music playing in the background.

After the paperwork in which your medical concerns are described have been taken, the therapy begins. The interesting thing about Shiatsu is that you do NOT need to disrobe. The therapy is performed right through the clothing.

I started in a seated position and Grace started to work on my shoulders and back. She used her thumbs and forearms to press into hundreds of points, moving efficiently over all the muscles. After 5 minutes I went into a side-lying position and she continued to work along my spine, then hips and legs. She also stretched my arms into a few different positions and pulled them gently which felt great. I turned to the other side and the same motions were repeated. I then laid on my stomach and she worked along my entire back, shoulder and back of legs and feet. It felt incredible. Her thumbs are surprisingly strong - I thought she was using her elbows but she said that doing Shiatsu for over a decade has built her strength in her hands. 
Her thumbs press down and move to the next point usually each second, it's quick but very relaxing. VERY relaxing. With each press I felt the tension melting away and the trigger points disappearing. I was thinking about how great a runner would feel having Grace work on their legs, as she treated my tight calves and hamstrings!
I then turned onto my back and Grace worked on my shoulders again but this time UNDER my back - Grace explained to me that she targets the same muscles but in all different positions because muscles are 3-dimensional and each position allows her to work on different aspects of that muscle.
She then worked on my scalp which was my FAVORITE!! Who knew so much tension was held there, but the pressing and kneading released so much tightness and felt wonderful. We finished with some work over the belly (I had complained of some chronic digestive issues). That was a different experience than anything I'd ever had. 

The whole treatment was one hour in length and felt simply amazing. Grace uses Shiatsu to treat a variety of conditions (migraines, hormone imbalances, stress, mobility issues, digestive issues etc) but also helps people maintain great health. For those of you that could benefit from acupuncture but are scared of needles, you can get many of the same benefits from Shiatsu! I HIGHLY recommend you try it, and you may be surprised to learn that it may be covered under your health benefits!
Next, I may be seeing Grace for a Reiki treatment or some cupping (those services are also currently being offered)! We are thrilled to have Grace part of our team and to be able to offer Shiatsu therapy in Barrie!

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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