Japanese Massage: What Are Shiatsu And Anma Exactly?

Japanese Massage: What Are Shiatsu And Anma Exactly?

Massage therapy along with other physical therapies are often used to help people recover from injuries.

These therapies can also be used to help a person relax and relieve stress.

Two popular forms of Japanese massage are Anma and Shiatsu.

This article will explain each type and also compare the two.

What is Anma massage?

Tui na is a form of massage therapy that originated in China and was adopted in Japan hundreds of years ago.

The Japanese took the Chinese practices of tui na and formed them into what is today called Anma.

Anma became immensely popular in Japan, especially from the 17th century and onward. However, Anma therapy has since spread to western cultures, too.

Anma therapy involves using the hands to stroke, vibrate and knead the body.

Squeezing and the application of pressure to the patient are also used in Anma therapy.

Anma is designed to relieve tension in the body and to release toxins and damaging energies.

Practitioners of Anma believe tension is caused by an accumulation of lactic acid brought on by fatigue, poor circulation, stress, trauma and/or chemical imbalances.

A massage therapist who practices Anma uses physical techniques to stimulate key areas of the skin called tsubo.

Because there is so much emphasis on using the hands to treat the patient and stimulate tsubo, it is important that an Anma therapist have hands that are able to make precise and deliberate movements.

The stimulation of tsubo using one's hands is said to promote healing from injuries or stress.

When the tsubo are stimulated, it releases tension in the muscles and improves blood circulation.

The benefits of Anma massage

Anma is used to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.

Some sports injuries are treated with Anma, and Anma is a popular therapy for those who suffer headaches, too.

Other ailments and conditions treated with Anma are as follows:

  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Abnormalities in blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Respiratory illnesses

Those who have benefited from Anma as a therapy have reported improvement in blood circulation.

Some have reduced tension from anxiety.

Anma is also said to calm irritated nerves, revitalize a weary body and to generally give a person more energy.

In many cases in western cultures Anma is not used as the only therapeutic treatment for a patient.

Instead, Anma is most often combined with other physical therapies and/or drugs.

What is Shiatsu massage?

Shiatsu massage is an age-old form of Japanese massage and physical therapy that originated in Japan and is based on Chinese medical practices.

Shiatsu is derived from Anma techniques and therapies.

Shiatsu has been used to treat physical pain for hundreds of years (and you've no doubt seen those amazing little Shiatsu pillows around!).

Currently, there is some published research that attempts to determine how medically effective Shiatsu is.

However, more research and clinical trials must be conducted to reach a conclusion on the effectiveness of Shiatsu.

The word Shiatsu is of Japanese origin and translates to "finger pressure" in English.

The phrase 'finger pressure' accurately describes the Shiatsu method.

In traditional Shiatsu technique, a therapist applies varying degrees of pressure to the patient's body.

Pressure is applied using the fingers and hands.

The pressure must be applied in particular spots on the body called acupressure points.

It is believed that acupressure points are vital for the flow of energy, called chi, throughout the body.

Those who practice Shiatsu believe that pressure on the acupressure points relieves blockages in the body that would otherwise cause pain, discomfort or illness.

The benefits of Shiatsu massage

While Shiatsu began as an eastern form of therapy, it has spread to the west.

Schools around the world teach the Shiatsu method.

Today, Shiatsu is most commonly used to treat the following conditions:

  • Joint pain
  • Sprains
  • Arthritis
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Sinusitis
  • Bronchitis

In addition to the above, Shiatsu has also been used to help correct poor posture.

Some patients receive Shiatsu therapy for relaxation, especially if the patient suffers from anxiety or stress.

Some practitioners also believe Shiatsu helps to build a stronger nervous system while stimulating the hormonal, lymphatic and circulatory systems.

Thus, some believe Shiatsu helps to improve a person's physical fitness.

Those who have received Shiatsu therapy have reported an increase in their range of motion in particular body parts and that their coordination has also been improved via Shiatsu therapy.

Shiatsu is often used alongside other physical therapies to treat bone and muscle ailments.

How are Anma and Shiatsu different?

Shiatsu and Anma are closely related.

Shiatsu derives from Anma, and both therapies use pressure to stimulate positive energy and release toxins.

Both therapies are often combined with other physical therapies and traditional medicine to treat patients.

In addition to Shiatsu, several other massage arts were formed using Anma techniques.

For instance, Swedish massage was created using the seven core principles of Anma.

To receive treatment from either therapy, the patient is required to lie on a table, the floor or some other flat surface.

Depending on the practitioner, Anma therapy can be administered while the patient is clothed or naked.

However, in most cases Shiatsu is administered on a clothed patient clad in comfortable clothing.

If a patient has a problem area of the body, Shiatsu therapy or Anma will focus specifically on that area.

However, one major difference between Anma and Shiatsu is that there are many techniques found exclusively in Anma massage therapy.

Anma is the mother of Shiatsu and the art of Shiatsu is slightly newer.

While both Shiatsu and Anma are ancient therapeutic practices, both forms are used today in both eastern and western cultures.

Researchers are working to determine whether these therapies have much scientific evidence that supports their effectiveness.

However, many patients have attested to the healing powers of these two massage techniques.

If you or someone you know has a physical ailment or suffers anxiety, ask your doctor if Japanese massage therapy might help.

If so, check with your healthcare provider to see if your insurance covers these therapies.


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