Applications and Contraindications

Shiatsu finds many applications, for example, in the well-being at work, the preparation and recovery of athletes or the accompaniment of patients in medical care as a supplement to conventional treatments. Shiatsu is used to fight the effects of stress, reduce tensions, complement medical treatment and promote recovery after trauma.

It is contraindicated in case of acute illnesses, fractures or heavy medication.

The following article was published on the website of the Federation of Massage Therapists of Québec and written by Katia VERMETTE in collaboration with Martha LOPEZ-FONSECA, Pascale RABEAU and Laura I. RASSE-FRICK, certified massage therapists specialized in shiatsu. It presents an excellent summary of the application of Shiatsu in the context of sports.

When we talk about sports massage, we inevitably think of a biomechanical intervention. However, because of its holistic approach based on the circulation of energy through meridians, shiatsu shows an undeniable value in the context of a sports injury.
Based on the principles of Eastern philosophy, shiatsu aims, through the application of pressure points along meridians, to eliminate blockages and fill voids to promote an optimal flow of energy throughout the body.

Its indications are numerous and its applications multiple: Dissolution of muscular tensions, relaxation, revitalization of the organism, stimulation of the process of self-healing. But did you know that shiatsu is also effective in preventing and treating sports injuries?

Prevent Sports Injury Through Shiatsu

The regular practice of a sport inevitably causes tensions and contractions in the areas solicited. Thus, when the blood supply is not optimal, or a contracture becomes chronic, the tissues are weakened and become more susceptible to lesions.

The massage therapist specialized in shiatsu can act in prevention of a sports injury, for example, by promoting muscular relaxation, by balancing the vital energy and by activating the metabolism of his client. His intervention will be based on a health questionnaire detailing the sport and muscles involved, the frequency of training and the history of injuries. A palpatory evaluation will then complete the data collection.

Eventually, the massage therapist will be able to identify the meridians that have gaps or energy in stagnation. To rebalance the energy through the various meridians, the massage therapist will rely on pressure, stretching, muscular and joint mobilizations in the areas solicited by the athlete.

Shiatsu and the Sports Practitioner: In Practice

With a sports injury prevention perspective, the massage therapist specializing in shiatsu will pay attention to the meridians involved in muscular and articular functions (liver and gallbladder), as well as in the quality of body fluids (kidney and spleen). The meridians that cross the most stressed areas during the client’s training will also have to be evaluated by the massage therapist. For runners for example, special attention should be paid to the meridians that cross the legs.

And in the presence of a sports injury?

In the context of a sports injury, the massage therapist specializing in shiatsu will accompany his client as a complement to the various health professionals who follow him: Physiotherapist, doctor, etc.

The presence of a sports injury will lead the massage therapist to further target his intervention. Indeed, although a shiatsu treatment can be provided very soon after an injury, it is better not to overload the body.

actice, the therapist will take care to first feed the areas with a vacuum to provide the body with the necessary energy to initiate or continue its process of self-healing. To do this, the massage therapist:

  • Assesses injury and injured tissue;
  • Checks if the meridians that cross the area are free of clutter;
  • Works the surrounding meridians to target areas where circulation (blood, lymphatic, and energy) is less effective, for example using local and more distant pressure points from the injury;
  • Considers gentle passive mobilizations, which will promote circulation and avoid joint ankylosis.

A recent injury will cause the massage therapist to work more on the periphery and in the referred area (region opposite to the injury) to limit the pain and discomfort in the injured area.

For an effective and safe massage

As with any massage, precautions must be taken to ensure an effective and safe massage for the client. The therapist should, for example, avoid excessive pressure on the injury and its periphery, and favour methods of rocking (stretching) and friction that will gently release energy blockages in the vicinity of the injured area.

In other words, care must be adapted to the condition of the client, whether in prevention or in the presence of a sports injury.