How is shiatsu different from swedish/deep tissue massage?


I have been answering this question for 20 years, and it has both simple and complicated answers.

The simplest answer is in your experience as the receiver. In shiatsu you are not asked to disrobe, but wear loose comfortable clothing. The clothing protects your skin as we work with compression pressure along the meridians and into the joints. It also adds ease to performing more active range of motion of the joints as there is no need for complicated draping. Swedish/ deep tissue you are asked to disrobe and oils and lotions are used to protect the skin. You are draped in sheets or towels. After a session of swedish/ deep tissue you will probably feel relaxed and sleepy. After a session of Shiatsu, you will probably feel relaxed and energized.

These styles of bodywork/massage address many of the same issues. Both reduce stress and both address injury recovery and pain relief. Both address the skeletal muscular system although Swedish has more focus on the muscles while Shiatsu is more focused on the fascia and the joints.

Shiatsu and other Asian bodywork therapy adds another layer of healing with the use of the meridians and points of Chinese medical theory. This is a dynamic healing system that has evolved from ancient times to remain relevant today, and is also the basis of acupuncture. We use this system to balance the body’s energetics, which we don’t consider to be separate from the physical body.

All bodywork therapies continue to evolve as modern science gains new understandings of anatomy, physiology and physics. And all practitioners develop their own style over time regardless of what system they use.


Downtown Shiatsu

Karen Kessler LMP ABT

1104 Main Street, Suite 306

Vancouver, WA 98660

360 735 9432