Shiatsu Massage Shiatsu And Reflexology Massage

Reflexology massage and shiatsu massage are both non-invasive bodywork techniques that use pressure to bring about relaxation and healing in the body and mind. Although the techniques have some similarities, they are based on different principles.

What Is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu massage is the popular Japanese practice of relaxation and holistic bodywork. Its roots are in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture therapy, which assert that the main cause of any disease is due to an unbalanced flow of qi–or energy–in the body. Shiatsu massage attempts to restore the harmony of energy in the body.

Shiatsu practitioners utilize acupressure techniques on the meridians (energy pathways) along the body. They apply pressure using the hands and thumbs, as well as the elbows and knees.

What Is Reflexology?

Reflexology is also a non-invasive, drug-free therapy that seeks to restore good health throughout the body. Reflexology massage is a gentle and relaxing way to increase immunity and resistance to disease and stress, and is based on the premise that reflex points on the hands and feet correspond to the organs and glands throughout the rest of the body. Pressure on these points sends signals through the nervous system.

Using a reflexology chart, a reflexologist can pinpoint a particular area of illness or a specific concern by targeting and massaging the corresponding location on the hand or foot. Like in shiatsu massage, the goal is to restore balance and energy to aid in healing of the mind and body.

Shiatsu Massage vs. Reflexology Massage

Shiatsu and reflexology both aim to induce health, relaxation and energy through pressure techniques. Their main difference, however, is in the specific application procedures. While shiatsu is applied to the whole body, especially the neck, back and shoulders, reflexology is applied specifically to a person’s hands, feet or sometimes ears. Shiatsu massage concentrates on the meridians in the body, while reflexology massage works within zones on the hands and the feet.

Whether a person chooses reflexology or shiatsu will depend largely on his familiarity with the techniques and his level of comfort with the practice in general.


International School of Shiatsu. (2008). Welcome to shiatsu. Retrieved March7, 2011, from

Reflexology Research. (n.d.). What is reflexology? Retrieved March 7, 2011, from