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Myths and Misconceptions about Shiatsu
Myth #1: Shiatsu should be painful
"I was feeling tight, you know? Shoulders and neck. So I called down and had a shiatsu massage in my room. And the tightness has completely disappeared...and been replaced by unbelievable pain. Just staggering, unbearable pain." -- from Lost in Translation
Now, don't get me wrong - Lost in Translation is a fine movie, I recommend it highly. But this bit of dialog illustrates one of the greatest misconceptions about shiatsu.
It's true that some people - including some practitioners - think that shiatsu has to be very deep, uncomfortable work.
But shiatsu can be done with a very, very light touch; or it can be done with very heavy deep work. A good practitioner works at the client's comfort level.
Myth #2: "Shiatsu massage" chairs are anything like shiatsu
No. A massage chair might be comfortable, but you should not form any opinion about shiatsu based on them. A massage chair cannot locate the meridians and points that are essesntial to shiatsu therapy. Also, one of the distinguishing characteristics of shiatsu is its focus on techniques using pressure, rather than rubbing or kneading; massage chairs can't do that.
Myth #3: Shiatsu is only good for sore muscles and stiff joints
Shiatsu can be useful for people suffering from many stress-related disorders, not just from sore muscles and joints. And of course preventive care is the best care of all. Don't wait until you're in pain to schedule a session.
Myth #4: A massage therapist can learn shiatsu in a weekend seminar
Shiatsu is a therapy that is very distinct from Swedish or deep-tissue massage. To properly practice it requires hundreds of hours of training. A massage therapist who takes a weekend seminar may learn a few useful techniques, but is misrepresenting themselves if they claim to be trained in shiatsu. Ask your therapist about their training and credentials.