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Acupressure and Shiatsu: What’s the Difference?

Acupressure and Shiatsu: What’s the Difference?

Acupressure and Shiatsu: What's the Difference?Acupressure and Shiatsu are both Asian forms of healing that have gained great popularity all around the world for helping to balance the flow of Qi, or vital energy. When the natural energy in our bodies is blocked, the consequences can range from tight muscles, to headaches, to cramps, as well as disease.

The Difference Between the Two

Many people ask about the difference between the two forms of bodywork, as they both involve using pressure, stretching, and manipulation to create better overall health. They indeed have many elements in common, with the practitioner stimulating points in the body with the hands, knuckles, knees, elbows, and even feet, but their biggest difference is in the method of diagnosis and the application of technique.


A diagnosis with acupressure is similar to that of acupuncture, where the tongue is looked at and the body’s pulses are felt to determine where blockages may be. As a part of Asian medicine for thousands of years, practitioners are aware of the 364 traditional acu-points and thousands of extra points on the body where stimulation and healing can occur. Pressing on any one of these points will increase circulation, release tension, and promote deep healing in the area.

Using the same points as in acupuncture, acupressure is applied without needles. Points are stimulated primarily with the fingers, promoting a soothing effect as endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers, are released. As energy begins to flow in blocked areas, pathways are cleared to help nutrients penetrate the cells and to release metabolic waste in order to create essential cleansing necessary for health.

An excellent way to reduce stress, acupressure is wonderful for helping to strengthen and tone the muscles through increased circulation. It also helps to reduce stress and problems such as headaches, cramps, and insomnia.


Shiatsu means finger pressure in Japanese. With its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this practice also stimulates acupuncture points through deep manual massage in the area. A profound healing protocol, Shiatsu can be more elaborate in its application than acupressure.

Some of the effects of this treatment include creating more suppleness in muscular tissue, resolving problems in the skeleton, promoting better function of the nervous system, regulating the endocrine system, and stimulating the normal function of the organs. With circulation increased throughout the body, Shiatsu’s effect on the skin often results in a healthy glow due to the stimulation of the blood supply.

With Shiatsu, a person is traditionally diagnosed through points on the abdomen, though sometimes other areas are included for determining where imbalances exist. Often used in sports medicine for pain management, Shiatsu is usually done on a mat or futon on the floor. No oils are used and the client will stay clothed to experience varying degrees of pressure along meridians or channels located on the body that help free and balance the flow of energy needed for healing.

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For more information on these time-honored protocols, please call (610) 896-1554.