More about Shiatsu

Shiatsu is based on Japanese massage therapy traditions and Chinese medicine theory. It also incorporates western knowledge and understanding of anatomy and physiology. The word "Shiatsu" comes from two Japanese words "shi" meaning finger and "atsu" meaning pressure. Often likened to Chinese acupressure, the aim of the practitioner is to improve the flow of energy (or "chi" in Chinese, "ki" in Japanese) through the body's meridian channels. The practitioner does this by using her bodyweight to exert pressure through her fingers, thumbs, elbows, forearms, feet and knees.
Although Shiatsu is usually done with the client on a futon on the floor, it can also be done on a massage table or a chair for those unable to get down on the floor.

Joanna giving Shiatsu

Shiatsu for senior citizens

To begin with, clients stay fully clothed for Shiatsu, which for many is a real plus. Besides, Shiatsu is a gentle therapy and the practitioner varies the amount of pressure applied to suit each individual. Clients report considerable relief from aches and pains - some that they thought they were stuck with, as well as a brighter mood and sense of well-being. Many are surprised at the improvement in their general state of health and say they wish they had known about Shiatsu earlier.

Sportsperson getting Shiatsu

Shiatsu for sportspeople

Injuries are a common problem for sportsmen and women, and sometimes they just don't heal quickly enough. Shiatsu can get you back on the rugby field, the netball court or the golf course faster. Clients say that regular Shiatsu sessions help with recovery times and energy levels whilst training for an event, as well as helping to prevent injury.

Shiatsu for office workers

Sitting all day gazing at a computer screen tends to create a great deal of tension in the neck, shoulders and back. This can lead to stiffness and painful conditions such as occupational overuse syndrome. Shiatsu can help to relieve pain and tension, as well as the stress of the workplace.

Man receiving Shiatsu

Some research

There is a growing body of evidence-based research into the efficacy of Shiatsu.
A study carried out by Dr Zoe Pirie from the University of Sheffield involved female patients aged from 27 to 63 with a complex mix of chronic physical and psychological/emotional problems. The women received six Shiatsu treatments on a weekly basis. Afterwards they reported a reduction in pain, stress, depression, anxiety and digestive disorders, as well as using less medication. They also said they had more energy, better immunity and increased ability to relax. You can read more about this study at "The Impact of Delivery of Shiatsu...."
A study into the effects of Shiatsu on lower back pain, carried out by Linda H. Brady et al from Drake University (Iowa USA) indicated a significant decrease in pain and anxiety after just four treatments. Subjects said they would recommend Shiatsu to anyone suffering from lower back pain. Read more about this research carried out in the United States.

More about me


I completed my Diploma in Shiatsu in 1997 after three years of study and clinical practice at the Shiatsu College Aotearoa in Auckland. As part of my ongoing professional development I am an active member of the Shiatsu Practitioners Association of Aotearoa (SPAA), attending conferences and workshops at least once a year.

I also hold a Certificate in Massage from the Naturopathic College of New Zealand. This means that when a client comes for their first consultation I can assess which therapy will be most beneficial, Shiatsu or massage.

As part of my interest in the martial arts, I have trained to become a qualified Tai Chi and Kung Fu instructor. You can get more information about the Tai Chi classes I teach on the Tai Chi page.

Contact me now for an appointment or go to the next page to check out some questions often asked about Shiatsu.