How Shiatsu Can Positively Enhance Your Life About Shiatsu & A Case Study Explored

lindy1Shiatsu, meaning “finger pressure,” is the practice of applying thumbs, fingers, palms or feet to pressure points, or meridians, as they’re called in ancient Asian medicine. Aside from the pressing, this type of treatment also focuses on stretching limbs and opening joints. As a type of healing therapy, it produces an effect of deep relaxation, increases energy levels and brings a state of balance to the body, among many other things. As several clients say, it helps them feel more “grounded, centered and self-aware.”

Shiatsu is a practice based on the traditions of ancient Asian medicine. The theory behind Shiatsu is that our bodies are made up of energy, called Qi, and this energy can get blocked and cause suffering within the body and mind. Shiatsu helps to remove blockages by clearing channels and acupoints, which balances the Qi and eases the body and mind. When Qi is balanced, healing occurs. The applied pressure stimulates both the nervous and immune systems, providing relief, while also restoring the circulatory system, improving blood flow.

lindy2A current client, named Christina G., has been receiving Shiatsu for approximately 18 months, at a rate of once every two to four weeks. At the start of her treatments, Christina was seeking the following:

  • Regularity in her menstrual cycle,
  • An increase in energy and stamina,
  • A decrease in daily anxiety and stress, and
  • An improved awareness and connection to her intuition.

Here are the results she experienced over the course of the first few months working together and then ongoing over the last 18 months:

  • Menstrual Cycle: Christina experienced better regularity and less blood clotting in the first few months of treatment. Within four months, she experienced a brighter, healthier color of blood and better flow in general, which she hadn’t experienced in years.
  • Energy and Stamina: Christina experienced more energy immediately following each treatment along with a “sense of calm and strength” that would endure for several days following treatment. In conjunction with her bi-weekly meditation and daily supplementation, she has experienced an increase in energy and stamina over the last 18 months and “it continues to improve everyday.”
  • Anxiety and Stress: Within the first few treatments, Christina experienced less anxiety and stress in her daily life. She also worked to manage her anxiety and stress on her own based on suggested exercises and regular reassessments, including identifying areas for
  • Intuition: After the first year of treatment, Christina wanted to connect to and be more aware of her intuition. In each session we reviewed progress she made, and feedback in the form of exercises was given for further improvement. She now says she “feels more connected to her intuition and is now able to look inside for answers to questions and for direction.”

lindy6Christina G. experienced the benefits of Shiatsu in every area that she was seeking assistance and vitality. It is through client experiences like these that Shiatsu proves time and time again to be a viable and effective treatment for those experiencing many types of mental or physical suffering. What once began as a treatment for simple muscular tension when it was first introduced to Western medicine has become something much more integrative. The benefits of Shiatsu have become more apparent, and it is now used for treating a variety of ailments and issues. These include the following:

  • Overall Weakness & Fatigue: Shiatsu can restore and maintain the body’s energy, helping those who suffer from overall weakness and fatigue.
  • Muscle Pain and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Shiatsu is frequently used to alleviate the muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis.
  • Injury Recovery: Shiatsu can aid in the recovery from sprains, fractures and other injuries.
  • Migraine Headaches: Shiatsu helps relieve headaches and migraines by relaxing the body and increasing blood flow and circulation throughout.
  • A Stiff Neck & Back: Shiatsu can reduce problems with the neck, shoulders and back, including sciatica.
  • Stress: Shiatsu can do wonders for a body and mind that is stressed. It can reduce stress and tension as well as anxiety and depression.
  • Reproductive Issues: Shiatsu can be used to aid women during their monthly cycles, especially to alleviate menstrual cramps and regulate blood flow.
  • Pregnancy: Shiatsu has been known to help women in labor and also to help babies turn in the womb. It can also help ease morning sickness and swelling.
  • Circulatory System: Shiatsu can help to improve circulation throughout the body, improving blood flow.
  • Digestive Disorders: By allowing food to digest more easily and aid in the elimination of waste, Shiatsu can benefit and improve your digestive system.
  • Skin: Shiatsu can stimulate circulation in the soft tissues of the skin, helping to keep skin soft and moist. This can in turn can give the skin a glow and prevent wrinkling.
  • Immune Support: Shiatsu can reduce the severity and frequency of coughs and colds, along with other sinus and respiratory problems.
  • Combines with other treatments: Shiatsu works well with other treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, chemotherapy, herbs and supplements.

lindy4A shiatsu treatment can last anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. It can be administered on a padded mat on the floor or on a massage table. Typically, the treatment begins with gentle stretching and pressing to relax the muscles and stimulate the flow of energy. Depending on the needs of the person receiving the massage, it can be very gentle and calming or used with high pressure. However, it should never be painful. For more information regarding Shiatsu and to receive a treatment, contact Lindy Ferrigno here.


Shiatsu, a traditional healing art from Japan, has its roots in the ancient wisdom and principles of Chinese medicine. Shiatsu is often called“acupuncture without needles.”  “Shi” means finger and “atsu”means pressure. 

The shiatsu specialist uses thumb and finger pressure to stimulate the entire meridian pathway, rather than inserting needles into a few specific points along the channel.  The benefits include restoring vitality and healthy function to your body, and harmony and clarity to your mind. 

Clients are fully clothed during treatment.  Shiatsu is non-invasive and profoundly effective for a range of common complaints, injuries and illnesses.


Shiatsu is based on the same system as acupuncture, but with shiatsu, no needles are used.  Chinese medicine dates from the 1st century B.C.E. with the oldest written medical text still in existence –  The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.  This text documents the sphere of bodywork in Asian medicine and states that “finger pressure is used to promote digestive function and restore vigor.”  Asian medicine was brought to Japan by a Buddhist priest, Gan Jin Osho, in 552 C.E.

In Japan, it is believed to this day that no instrument will ever surpass the precision and sensitivity of the human hand for assessing energy and being able to determine the condition of a person’s health.  For this reason, examination and diagnosis by palpation has been developed to an extraordinary degree in Japan. 

The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare defines shiatsu therapy as “a form of manipulation administered by the thumbs, fingers and palms, without the use of any instrument, mechanical or otherwise, to apply pressure to the human skin, correct internal malfunctioning, promote and maintain health, and treat specific diseases.”  The ministry lists over 200 health concerns for which shiatsu is considered a primary treatment. In the United States, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has come to concur.  The research on acupuncture and massage shows agreement. 


Shiatsu addresses a wide variety of complaints.  Some of the benefits are:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Pain relief from backache, headache, muscle tension or injury
  • Increased mobility and flexibility
  • Improved digestion
  • Better sleep
  • Clearer mind

Shiatsu is used to assist recovery from mild to severe injuries from accidents or sports. Shiatsu relieves pain due to backache, headache, arthritis, and sore muscles caused by too much or too little exercise or repetitive motion. Shiatsu boosts the immune system and is effective in the treatment of fatigue, low energy, insomnia and quality of sleep.

Shiatsu has proven successful in treating digestive complaints such as heartburn, constipation, abdominal discomfort and general sluggishness. Shiatsu is commonly used for women’s health, menstrual and menopausal complaints,and  all stages of pregnancy, including fertility and birthing.

Shiatsu is very helpful for respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, asthma, allergies, and sinuses. Shiatsu combines successfully with other forms of treatment.  It strengthens and increases the actions of acupuncture and naturopathy and aids the digestion and absorption of herbs.  It combines very well with chiropractic in two ways:  if received beforehand, it makes manipulations easier; if afterwards, it helps keep adjustments longer. 

Clients report that Shiatsu enhances personal and spiritual development.  They experience feeling grounded and centered and having a heightened awareness of being in the body.  They comment on the added strength, stability and awareness they gain as an extra advantage for their personal and spiritual development. Shiatsu relaxes the mind and strengthens the body.  It promotes health and helps create a positive outlook on life.  It empowers a grounded assessment and interpretation of life’s events, and the ability to respond from the heart. 


You can seek out shiatsu treatments for many diverse reasons. You may want to remedy the physical symptoms of acute or chronic pain and discomfort.  You may need some relief from stress, anxiety or tension.  Perhaps you are not really sick but you don’t feel quite up to par. Maybe your brain is a bit “foggy” and you would like to have better clarity and focus or feel more grounded. You could be facing the “empty nest” and need a stronger sense of self and of purpose. 

Shiatsu has proven effective for treating a variety of mild to severe complaints in categories such as:

Injury –  auto accidents, sports injuries, repetitive motion
Pain – backache, headache, muscle tension, joint pain, chronic pain, neck & shoulders, low back & hips

Digestion – heartburn, constipation/sluggishness, bloating,loose stool/diarrhea
Immune System – fatigue, low energy, sleep problems, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome
Respiratory – allergies, sinusitis, asthma, shortness of breath
Women’s Health – menstrual, menopausal, pregnancy, fertility

Shiatsu also combines successfully with other forms of treatment:

Acupuncture – integrates treatment, assists digestion of herbs
Naturopathy – helps absorb remedies, stimulates detoxification
Chiropractic – makes manipulations easier, sustains adjustments longer

Shiatsu enhances personal and spiritual development. Clients report:
~ Increased vitality and vigor
~ Feeling grounded and centered
~ Awareness of “being in the body”
~ Tuning in to their inner knowing
~ Developing a desire to connect with Spirit
Before the first treatment I talk with you about your needs and goals and email you some basic information and directions to the office.  When you arrive you fill out a brief health history form, and I will probably have a few more questions based on the information you provide.  When that is complete, you move into the treatment room and change into loose, comfortable clothing.  You lie on the table fully clothed and I come in.
I apply palms, fingers and thumbs to the entire meridian system (the lines you see on an acupuncture chart that connect the points).  I work through the clothing, so no oils or lotions are used.
  • The amount of pressure can vary from gentle to firm, depending on your needs and comfort
  • A session lasts approximately 45-60 minutes, determined by the condition of your health at the time of treatment
  • Your whole body is addressed, even if your only reason for treatment is a stiff neck (the meridians that treat a stiff neck will run from head to foot)
  • After the treatment, you typically feel very calm, relaxed and clear-headed
  • Your complaints will often be either gone, or at least noticeably reduced
  • The results tend to last longer than a regular massage for most people. There is a cumulative effect after  several treatments that lasts even longer – for some clients, as long as months; a few have even said years

In traditional Asian medicine a typical course of Shiatsu treatment for one complaint begins with 10 sessions, 30-50 minutes each, one to three times a week.  These days, in America, we usually see clients less frequently – once a week, once a month, or anything in between.  It depends on the desired results, the severity of the condition, and whether the condition is acute or chronic.  For a strong and healthy person with little or no stress in life, quarterly treatments are recommended at the change of seasons.

We evaluate the effectiveness of treatments every two or three sessions to determine whether the best strategy is to continue with the treatment plan, refine or modify it, or, if resolved, conclude the course of treatment. One fact to keep in mind is that all forms of natural medicine show best results with a cumulative build up. To determine how Shiatsu will work for you, consider an initial series of three consecutive weekly treatments to get a sense of its cumulative effect.


Since 1975, I have trained extensively with Shiatsu masters, European osteopaths, Asian acupuncturists, American chiropractors and shamanic healers from five cultures.  These, combined with many years of treatment experience, form my personal technique.  I love my work! 

What I bring to the table:

  • I have 35+ yrs of experience treating everything from stress and fatigue to backache and headache, from digestion and PMS to accidents and injuries, from depression and insomnia to allergies and sinuses
  • I listen intently to what you say as well as to what your body tells me
  • I give specific attention to your areas of complaint and pay attention to any additional areas of disharmony
  • I track your progress, answer your questions, and help you connect the dots when you can’t make sense of what is going on in your body
  • I will always tell you when I think a different treatment will help you, and I will recommend someone whose skills and integrity I trust
My wish for you is that you be happy and healthy!


For 15 years I lived in the Pacific Northwest where alternative/complementary medicine is used as commonly as conventional medicine.  Doctors there converse freely with acupuncturists, chiropractors, shiatsu specialists, etc. and are happy to coordinate care with such practitioners for the benefit of their patients.  They often referred their patients to me as part of their treatment plan.  Insurance companies on the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest cover the whole range of alternative therapies from bodywork to naturopathy to acupuncture and chiropractic.  When I moved back East and settled in the Mid-Atlantic, I was surprised to discover how rare it was to find that type of cooperation and coordination here.  I also found that a lot of people had never even heard of shiatsu, let alone used it.  In the time since I move here eight years ago, many more people in this town have heard about it but they still are not sure what shiatsu is and they often ask me how it differs from massage.   I thought it might be helpful to shed a little light on that question.  And, because people are often reluctant to try something new and unknown, I’ve added a little guidance on how to choose a bodyworker, regardless of the modality.

There are many different types of massage and bodywork.  Two of the most commonly practiced are Swedish massage and Shiatsu.  Massage is done with oils or lotions directly on the skin.  The practitioner uses palms, fingers and forearms in a horizontal plane along the main part of the muscles.  Massage is geared toward the skeletal muscles and the circulation of blood back to the heart.

Shiatsu is an acupressure technique that is often called “acupuncture without needles.”   The practitioner uses palms, fingers and thumbs in a vertical plane to stimulate the life force (qi) throughout the entire body. Shiatsu is geared at targeting your area of concern and harmonizing it with all your body’s functions and systems so that the effect is integrated and lasts longer.  It concentrates at the level of the nervous system to rejuvenate and enhance the:

  • Mobility, strength and flexibility of your joints
  • Circulation from your heart to all your cells, organs and muscles
  • Proper operation of your central nervous system  (brain, reflexes, etc.)
  • Harmonious coordination of your organ functions


  • Your pain will decrease;
  • Your joints will have better range of motion with less discomfort;
  • You will recover faster from injury or surgery;
  • Your stamina will increase;
  • You will sleep better,
  • You will digest better, and
  • Enjoy more peace of mind.

Many of the written descriptions of the various types of massage and bodywork sound so similar that it is hard to tell the difference between them.   How can you know which kind of bodywork will be the best for you?

There are several things to consider. Are you looking for relief from your neck and shoulder tension?  Do you want to calm your mind and sleep better?  Is your back pain beginning to get in the way of everyday activities?  Are you suffering from indigestion, allergies, headaches, menstrual discomfort?  Most types of bodywork address the muscle tension that results in tight neck and shoulders and/or back pain.  Depending on your individual response to treatment, you may favor lighter or deeper pressure.  Be sure to let your practitioner know if you have a preference.

You will also want to consider the training, skill, experience, and [most importantly] the goals of the practitioner who will perform the treatment.  Some practitioners are focused on the physical complaints.  Some are oriented toward the subtle energy of the body.  Still others like to address any suppressed emotions that tend to get jammed up in the various tissues (there should be additional training for this orientation).  There are practitioners who feel more comfortable concentrating on science and technique, while others prefer the art and flow, adjusting their technique according to intuition.  Most bodyworkers will practice some combination of art and science in various degrees and percentages.  Pressure can vary from a very light touch to medium to deep (or very deep) work, and a few practitioners have enough skill, talent, experience and intuition to use the whole range appropriately for the client’s needs and goals.

Referral by a healthcare provider or friend is always a good way to find the right person.  Even then, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you make your first contact, whether by phone or email.  In addition to the areas mentioned above, you might want to find out why most of their clients come to see them.  This may give you an idea of what they are used to treating in their practice.  You can also ask how much experience they have with your particular reason for seeking them out.  I know that if I were the one looking for a practitioner, I would not rely on an email for the first contact.  I would want to speak with them personally to get a sense of who they are.  I would want to feel confident about their professionalism and have the sense that we would “get along,” so to speak.  I would want to feel that the person understands me when I convey my needs and concerns.  Feeling comfortable, confident and compatible with your bodyworker can be the pivotal factor that turns a “good massage” into a great one.



I  have been very touched by the responses to my first few posts.  Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know what you got from them.  The responses seemed to sort themselves into two groups of distinctive characteristics.

One group, writing about the blessings, was appreciative of such a positive insight and open sharing.  Some said that they, too, had gone into that deep darkness and come to a deeper appreciation at the end of the experience.  For them it was nice to see someome put it “out there,” as not everyone will speak about it.  To these people I want to say ‘thank you so much’ because it was not easy to do.  The writing of it is so personal, and yet I feel it is time to give voice to those common human experiences that our culture does not acknowledge.

Another group, mostly writing about the Chakras (but a few about the spiritual insight from the blessings, too), felt my presentation made these matters sound so easy, though they may actually be too complicated to ever understand.  To these people I want to say ‘I know what you mean.’  And the answer to the problem is that one needs a teacher in these cases.

All these matters that have more to do with energy than material substance are difficult to understand with words alone.  It is like trying to describe the taste of an apple.  You can say it is sweet, but many other things that are sweet taste nothing like an apple.  Then, of course, there are apples that are more or less sweet, or even tart or sour, that still taste like apples.  How can you explain this to someone who has never had an apple?!  Well, you have to make sure there is an apple available, show them where and how to bite into it, watch to make sure it all goes well, bear witness to their experience, and be able to taste what they taste as they taste it for the first time.  This is called teaching by transmission.  It is the art of teaching, over and above the skill of teaching.

The learning that has been most valuable to me has been taught in the age-old ‘oral transmission’ tradition (no textbooks or written materials) by teachers who had mastered the art of transmission.  This does not mean that I do not value other learning.  I absolutely value what I have gotten from reading and studying, both by schooling and on my own.  However, in the case of those things that cannot be seen or touched but must be felt with the heart and soul, that knowledge only springs to life in the presence of someone who knows how to create the atmosphere for it to become your own awareness.  That is why I say you need a teacher.  I have been lucky enough to have had such teachers.  And I have been lucky enough to have been taught to be such a teacher (tho’ I do give out written materials).  So, if any of the courses and workshops that I offer are of interest to you, but you are afraid that they are beyond your grasp,  I say give it a try.  You might be surprised!  Here are some of the testimonials from people who have been in my classes:

I attended a class on Power Animals taught by Lindy Ferrigno.  The class was not only informative on the informational level but on the experiential level as well.  It offered me a direct experience of my personal relationship to my power animals.  Lindy is a skilled Shaman who guided me on a deep journey with patience and skill so that I could have the direct experience of being with my animals.  She created and sustained a very safe relaxed atmosphere, allowing me to receive the information that I needed to continue on my healing journey.  Lindy’s deep visceral experience of the shamanic world and her connection to it allows for a rich and deep experience in any class she may teach.  I highly recommend her as a teacher.

Anna KD Blum, PMH, CS, BC

Dear Lindy,

I thought you might be interested in my response to the Chakra Workshop.  I came home afterward feeling contentedly sleepy and very much in my body.  I went to bed early and slept like a baby, unusual for me in both cases.  The next morning I awoke expecting my standard stiffness.  But there was none.  No aches or pains either.  Very strange indeed.  “Stranger” things were yet to come.  I sat down and journaled for the first time within memory, although there was a time I did that every morning of my life.  The journal pages helped me focus the work we did on Saturday.  If I were to chose one thing that resonated most deeply from all the wonderful things in that oh-so-rich workshop, it would be this idea:  Spirit does not have a body, but we do and it is time for all of us to step up and take part in the work of Spirit.  We are the hands, the feet, the body of Spirit and one of the reasons to stay alive long into old age is to further that work.  Following is one of the notes from my journal: “I want to take those things that have worked for me in the past and bring them to my life now so the flow that is me continues and I don’t feel chopped up into ‘chapters.’  The growing older will not seem an aberration, a ‘wrench’ from who I was, but a way of opening, of accepting my ‘leaky margins’ and my eventual dissolving into the whole of being.  The aspect of the day that spoke to me most was the idea of the partnership of Spirit and this body.  How they – we – need each other, how we must rely on each other to accomplish what we came here for.”

There were many other things I said in those pages, many important realizations, but that was the essence, that is the reason (for me, at least) to set my chakras spinning.

And speaking of spinning, after I wrote, I went downstairs, turned on music, and spontaneously began to dance.  I danced and danced until I began to cry for joy and shout “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”

Yes.  Thank you so much, dear Lindy, for all I learned in those precious days.


Catherine Finn

I have experienced first hand, Lindy’s wonderful ability to teach.  She shares her vast knowledge on many topics by condensing the material and making the information understandable to the layperson.   Her seminars are concise and offer both skilled practitioners of other modalities, and those just curious, a window into the seemingly endless mastery of her studies.  

JoAnn M. Christy, C.M.T.