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Shiatsu – An Ideal Introduction To Alternative Therapies

Written By Joseph Jackson 06 Mar 2020

"My initial thoughts about shiatsu was that it was a lovely combination of energetic therapy and traditional massage. I felt certain muscle areas release tension, but deeper than that, I felt connected to myself"

Shiatsu – An Ideal Introduction To Alternative Therapies

Curious about alternative therapies but unsure what to expect? Apothecary 27’s Christine visits The Olive Tree therapy centre next door and shares her experiences here for you!

Shiatsu is a Japanese holistic therapy that uses gentle pressure and stretching to promote the positive flow of energy through the body. It aims to realign what is out of balance so the body may heal itself more efficiently. 

The word ‘shiatsu’ means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese, and the therapy shares the same principles as acupuncture, as both are based on Chinese medicine. But instead of acupuncture needles, the practitioner uses fingers, thumbs, palms, elbows and forearms to apply pressure and increase the body’s natural defences. 

Chloe Broomby is a shiatsu practitioner at The Olive Tree. She uses touch to assess which meridians – channels of energy flow throughout the body – are imbalanced, and she moves areas that are in excess and holds to restore energy to deficient areas. 

We began my session with a thorough examination of my health and lifestyle, including my diet, medical history, sleep patterns and emotional state. Interestingly, she enquired about my senses, such as my sense of smell, and she examined my tongue, which she explained is part of Chinese medicine and allows her to see where to focus treatment. 

Shiatsu is done fully clothed. I laid down on the treatment bed with a soft cushion under my head and a light fleece blanket over me. Chloe felt for my pulse on both wrists, and continued to work along my body, including arms, legs and abdomen, using a combination of gentle pressure on specific points and light massage over general areas. 

Chloe explained why certain areas are targeted: “The points on the wrists are for diagnosis. The organs are paired with their element organ; for example, bladder and kidney for water. They should be found at a certain depth and with a certain quality. The ones out of balance show me what to treat. 

“The ‘hara’, found on the abdomen, is the centre of a person and is also used for diagnosis,” she continued. “All of these diagnostic areas, combined with the case history, build up patterns to show what to treat. But the body can also lead me to treat other areas during the session.”  

I turned over for work along my spine, neck and shoulders, which felt wonderful. “The points on either side of the spine are the back transporting points,” Chloe said. “They connect to each of the organs and are used for diagnosis. They become tender on pressure when their associated organ is ailing. As a practitioner, to me they can feel full or empty. They also activate qi (energy) and blood in the associated organ systems.”

Chloe said she works with intention at every point of pressure, elaborating that this intention is made up of instinct, intellect and intuition. 

My session ended with the beautiful tones of a sound bowl. The therapy lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, including our discussion before and after. 

My initial thoughts about shiatsu was that it was a lovely combination of energetic therapy and traditional massage. I felt certain muscle areas release tension, but deeper than that, I felt connected to myself. I felt ‘whole’, as if Chloe had coaxed my body back to itself, with an awareness of energy flowing through my limbs. I felt grounded and engaged, calm and certain. This was much more than physical release or relief of ailments. I felt my emotional state was steadied. I’d come home to myself.

People who are curious about alternative therapies may find shiatsu a very approachable practice, as they explore their energetic selves while still feeling the more traditional massage touch. 

Shiatsu can treat conditions ranging from ME, fibromyalgia, body aches and pains, menstrual issues and perimenopausal symptoms. Regular sessions can rebalance you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 

In her late teens and early twenties, Chloe suffered from ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When conventional medicine failed her, she turned to holistic medicine, a long journey that led her to discover her calling with shiatsu. 

“I had a lot of acupuncture when I had ME, and it was the greatest help to me, but I didn't find Shiatsu until later,” Chloe explained. “I found it to be so much more nourishing. I always knew I wanted to do something in the field of healing, but I wanted it to be hands on. When I found shiatsu, I knew it was the one.

“I have helped a lot of ladies with menstrual and peri-menopausal issues, for example, very heavy bleeding, night sweats and PMT,” she continued. “Also, emotional problems – I often have people saying that they just feel so much lighter afterwards, because something has shifted. A lot come for regular sessions just to feel more balanced.”

I appreciated the feedback from Chloe following our session. She said that my spleen meridian wanted to be nourished and suggested I eat more red foods (beetroot, etc) and leafy greens to support blood production and immune system support. This was fascinating to hear, as I suffer from anaemia and I have low blood pressure. 

To book a shiatsu session, contact Chloe on 07769 644719, visit The Olive Tree at olivetreehealth.co.uk/shiatsu/ or visit lightandbodyspace.com.  

Chloe is in partnership with crystal healer Dawn Wood (read about my treatment with Dawn here) running Light and Body Space. The pair hold regular workshops to share their love of energy work, including Movement/Qigong, Meditation, Crystals, Shiatsu and Meridians. 

Chloe and Dawn are hosting shiatsu and crystal healing taster sessions at The Olive Tree on Friday, 13 March, where you can book a 30-minute session for £20. 

For more information or to sign up to their mailing list, visit lightandbodyspace.com (note the 20% off gift vouchers for Mother’s Day!).