My Experience of Shiatsu, the Japanese Massage Therapy

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Since we moved house a few weeks ago I have been suffering with my neck, particularly the right side of my neck and into my right shoulder. I have had a few days where it has been so painful all I have wanted to do is sit with a hot water bottle on my neck and try to massage out the knots.

I tried a professional massage and it worked immediately but the next morning I was back to experiencing the same pain again. I thought I have to try something different so I started looking at acupuncture.

I did some research and found a local practitioner experienced in acupuncture, shiatsu, reflexology and deep tissue massage. Lior Levy has been practising complimentary medicine for over 17 years and offers a holistic approach to improve and maintain long-term health of his clients. I chose him because his treatments can also help with digestive problems.

Ever since a holiday to Kenya in 2006, where my husband and I both had a bout of food poisoning, I have suffered with my digestive system which I believe is triggered by an intolerance to certain foods. I have been tested for Coeliac, which I don’t have, and I have been tested for a parasite in my stomach and nothing has been found. All I could do was cut out the foods I believed triggered my symptoms. I thought wheat was the main problem so I try to avoid it as best I can.

What happened in our first session?

My first session with Lior lasted two hours. The first part of the session is a consultation where we discussed my general health. He asked about my diet, any surgery I have had, my menstrual cycle, my pregnancies and births, all to build up a picture of what my body had experienced.

He spoke about his treatment methods inspired by the five elements theory. Just as a healthy garden needs good seeds (wood), sufficient water, sunlight (fire), fertile soil (earth) and compost (metal) to grow and thrive, Lior looks at how these five elements manifest in a person to understand where the imbalances are and identify the root of the illness.

My Experience of Shiatsu Massage Treatment

Lior said he would use Shiatsu in our first session rather than acupuncture to work on both my neck and my stomach, as some clients don’t react well to the needles. Shiatsu therapy was developed in Japan and is based on the same principles as acupuncture, but human touch is used rather than needles. The treatment is performed while the client is lying comfortably clothed on a futon mattress, and involves soft manipulation, stretches and applied pressure.

During the Shiatsu, Lior put one hand on my abdomen and his other hand on the side of my left foot. I found it rather sore on my foot. He then did the same with my right foot, again with his left hand on my abdomen, and I could feel gentle popping in my stomach. Almost like a release.

My Diagnosis

At the end of the session he advised me that the right side of my body is rather weak, despite being right-handed, and that is why my neck pain is on the right side of my body. He also detected that I have poor blood flow and so I can keep warm when I am active but as soon as I stop moving and sit down, I get cold. I was amazed as this is exactly what happens to me. Years ago my husband bought me a blanket specifically to keep me warm when we are sitting on the sofa reading or watching a film. He also detected that I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I have a need for approval. I said to Lior “Oh my goodness, it is like you have read my mind” He replied “No, I just read your body, as we are mind, body, spirit.”

What next?

To help with my digestive problems, Lior advised that as well as wheat, I also cut out dairy from my diet. Dairy can be classified as a damp food and when combined with a damp climate, like we have here in the UK, it can weaken our digestive system. To help with my neck, Lior said I need to avoid any sort of massage or manipulation of my neck. He suggested only slow gentle movement and rolling of the shoulders to release the tension. To help with my blood flow, he suggested I eat more bananas, broccoli and spinach.

After the treatment

Since the treatment I have noticed that my stomach is a lot more settled. I have significantly reduced my dairy intake and feel a lot better. I am still suffering with my neck despite the treatment giving me some relief. It may be that I need better pillows or even a new mattress.

I thought the treatment was amazing and extremely relaxing, and I am very much looking forward to the next session with him.

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