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Shiatsu massage is a Japanese form of treatment that strays a bit from traditional western types of massage therapy. In Shiatsu therapies, the therapist uses fingers, thumbs, palms, and in some cases elbows or feet, to apply rhythmic pressure to the body.
Rather than long and softer strokes in Swedish massage therapy techniques, Shiatsu focuses on specific pressure points in the body. From a spiritualistic side, this is meant to balance the flow of energy throughout the body. Another interpretation is that it alleviates stress and discomfort while stimulating the nervous system.
Either way you look at it, Shiatsu massage therapy is used to achieve much of the same goals as other different types of massage, but it focuses on pressure points throughout the body to do so. Because this involves more pressure being applied than some other treatments, it is important to be aware of any injuries, wounds or medical conditions the person has that could be adversely affected by hitting certain pressure points.