Improving Quality of Life through Shiatsu

Wonder how Shiatsu can improve the quality of life for someone suffering from chronic illness? Today Riva Naimark LMT, NCTMB, shows us how Shiatsu massage can help those living with chronic illness such as HIV, feel better and more easily continue with daily activities. Now on to Riva...

Awareness of complementary therapies such as massage and/or energy based modalities has been growing among people diagnosed with chronic diseases. However, some don’t know quite enough about it; and often wonder if it could possibly address their particular symptoms of not. As with all such techniques, they do not replace regular visits to the person’s health care practitioner. Before beginning any complementary treatment, the client and his or her medical provider should discuss the topic and agree that it would be helpful; and also that the client does not have any conditions for which massage or Shiatsu might not be indicated.

There are dozens of different methods of massage and or energy-based modalities that exist. Some types are based on a traditional Western physiological approach. Other styles use energetic theories as the background. Shiatsu is an example of one type of treatment that is particularly effective for treating many symptoms of chronic illness. Even though it cannot cure disease, regular use of Shiatsu helps people living with medical disorders like HIV and Cancer to feel better and more easily continue with their daily activities of living.

What is Shiatsu exactly then? It is a Japanese form of massage based on Chinese medical principles. There are pathways on the body, called Meridians which lead toward the major body organs. There are certain points along these pathways where body energy pools. As a result, there are places in the body that hold excess energy as well as areas that become deficient. A combination of stretching and palpation of certain points along these Meridians is used to restore the balance of the Body, Mind, and Spirit. The physiologic benefits of Shiatsu are the following: stimulate circulation of body fluids, promote suppleness of muscle tissue, improve the function of the nervous system. Stimulate the function of internal organs (ie improved digestion), as well as reduce tension and stress. Clients with chronic diseases report that they often obtain relief from depression, insomnia, muscle pain, and fatigue.

As the severity and frequency of symptoms differ with each person and different stages of a disease process, the decision on massage scheduling is best made between the massage therapist and client on an individual basis. Generally, clients with chronic illness indicate that the combination of standard Western medical treatment and complementary therapies is what enables them the experience and improved quality of life even though they cannot escape the presence of their disease and the unpleasant side effects of their medical interventions.

About The Author: Riva Naimark, LMT, NCTMB

Riva Naimark LMT, NCTMB is a graduate of the Swedish Institute of Massage Therapy in New York City. Upon completion of her Associated Degree in Allied Health Science, she went on to obtain both her New York State License and her National Certification in Massage Therapy. She is an Independent Contractor and also maintains a part-time private practice of the Upper West Side. She has experience in treating people with HIV as well as hospitalized patients who are seriously ill. In addition, she Mentors new Massage Therapists interested in treating people with chronic and terminal diseases. She can be contacted at: is an approved continuing education provider for Massage Therapists via our National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) approved provider status. To find a continuing education course search our state-specific CEU course catalog.

This article was written by Amy-Lynn Corey

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