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Becoming A Shiatsu Practitioner

Shiatsu is a type of therapeutic Japanese physical therapy that is based on traditional Chinese medicine. It is an old type of healing—3,500+ years old, in fact—and it is concerned with the human anatomy, physiology, and pathology. "Shiatsu" is literally translated as "finger pressure," and it involves applying pressure to the body. It is a non-invasive and therapeutic bodywork therapy that is meant to contribute to the client’s overall wellbeing. It can also be a great stress and anxiety reliever.

Shiatsu practitioners believe that Shiatsu therapy can also:

  • Relieve musculoskeletal pain in the lower back, neck, and joints
  • Relieve muscle stiffness and stimulate the skin
  • Aid digestion
  • Relieve headaches and symptoms of PMS
  • Have positive effects on digestive disorders and fatigue
  • Fight insomnia
  • Relieve muscle pain related to fibromyalgia

A large belief of Shiatsu is that energy (which is known as chi or qi) circles through the body in channels known as "meridians." In order to harness that energy properly, as a Shiatsu practitioner, you must use the meridians that are in the organs to ensure harmonious movement and flow of the chi throughout the body.

Responsibilities Of A Shiatsu Practitioner

A Shiatsu practitioner applies pressure to the specific chi points in the body. Specific kneading, soothing, stretching, and tapping Shiatsu techniques and skills are used with the thumbs, fingers, palms, elbows, knees, and feet. Shiatsu is typically not used in conjunction with lotions or oils.

If you believe strongly in holistic medicine, enjoy working closely with clients, and would like to specialize in traditional Japanese physical therapy, then a career as a Shiatsu practitioner would be perfect for you.

Shiatsu Training

Shiatsu training typically entails practical hands-on study to learn clinical techniques as well as traditional studying. Programs will prepare you to earn a professional certification to become a Shiatsu practitioner after you've completed all of the requirements.

Here are some things you'll learn while studying to become a Shiatsu practitioner:

  • the five principles of Shiatsu
  • how to work with the public
  • ethics
  • the business side of Shiatsu
  • vocabulary and theories of traditional Chinese medicine
  • the basics of physiology, anatomy, and pathology and how it relates to Shiatsu
  • zen Shiatsu theory

After you're finished with school, the next step is to become certified.

Shiatsu Therapy: Getting Certified

In order to become a Shiatsu practitioner in most states, you will need to become certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This means that you'll need to successfully pass the Asian bodywork therapy exam that is administered by the board. You'll learn everything you need to know in order to pass the exam from your Shiatsu training. If you pass it, you'll be presented with the title of Diplomate of Asian Bodywork Therapy and will be qualified to work as a professional Shiatsu practitioner or therapist.

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