Eastern bodywork techniques have risen in popularity among Westerners over the past decade with many looking to these alternative therapies to deal with chronic back pain. Shiatsu massage, a form of Japanese bodywork that translates as “finger pressure” focuses on manipulating points of the body through specific touch to relieve a wide range of ailments. Developed in the 20th century, Shiatsu massage originated from Traditional Chinese Medicine and is a blend of the TCM massage called anma and Western anatomical and physiological understanding.
Beyond relief from muscle soreness, Shiatsu massage is credited with alleviating symptoms such as migraines, menstrual cramps, and digestive issues. This is attributed to the massage unblocking meridians in the body which allows Qi, vital life force energy in TCM, to move freely through the meridians. While it is similar to acupuncture, Shiatsu massage takes a non-invasive approach to manipulating pressure points.
Practitioners of this ancient art can be found through the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia directory, but those without the time or money to visit a therapist can benefit from Shiatsu with an at-home massager.
Best All Around
The Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager is a top rated back massager that offers heated relief for sore muscles and can be used all over the body. Massage nodes that automatically switch directions combine with the heat to release deep muscle tension. Straps are included to attach the massager to your headrest or chair and it is sized conveniently for travel. As one of the lower-priced massagers in its’ category, the Zyllion is a good choice for first time buyers and also makes an excellent gift.
Best for Neck and Shoulder Pain
With handle straps on either side, the Naturalico Shiatsu Massager gives users the ability to customize pressure by pulling or releasing accordingly. The shape of the massager is ideal for fitting behind the neck and over the shoulders but can also be used on the back, feet, or legs. With a car adaptor included, the Naturalico massager is a perfect companion for long road trips.
Best for All-Day Relief at the Office
Supplying a heated seat cushion in addition to a full spinal length Shiatsu massaging pillow, the NURSAL Back Massager fits into an office chair or car seat supplying comfort to those who sit for extended periods of time. The NURSAL can be used to administer a full-back massage but also has options to target the upper or lower back only. Additionally, there are three different massage technique settings the nodes can be set to. While it is at the higher end of the price-range, the versatility of the NURSAL makes it a good investment for a long-term massager.
Best for Laying in Bed
Whether in too much pain to stand or seeking deeper sleep, the Gideon Shiatsu 3D Deep Kneeding Full Back Massage Pillow delivers a Shiatsu massage in the privacy of one’s own bed. The Gideon, which can also be used while sitting, features 14 massage nodes and is large enough to accommodate the entire back. The pillow can be used with or without heat and the nodes can be set to move either clockwise or counterclockwise.
Best Cordless Option
For those looking for more mobility while using a Shiatsu massager, the LiBa Cordless Shiatsu Neck Shoulder Back Massager Belt is a portable option that holds a charge for two hours. The LiBa is shaped to target a specific area and can be worn around the neck, back, legs, or feet while pressure is administered through handle straps on either side. Heat can be turned on or off and the massager can be used plugged in while the battery is charging. The cordless LiBa can move from chair to couch to bed and is ideal for those who do not want to be limited by the presence of an outlet.
Amongst the multiple options and features, there is a Shiatsu back massager fitting for any specific need. Beyond relief from back and neck tension, Shiatsu massage is thought to have an effect on the psyche and could be helpful in relieving emotional disorders such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Using a Shiatsu back massager can be part of holistic approach to reduce both outer and inner tension, elevating one’s quality of life.