Shiatsu literally means “finger pressure”. The shiatsu therapist applies steady pressure massage on a client’s acupuncture points to create therapeutic responses. With training and numerous treatments provided over the years, a shiatsu therapist’s thumbs get stronger; thus he/she is able to place virtually his/her whole body weight onto his or her thumbs.
The therapist’s thumbs become larger over the years due to providing a great number of treatments. When this therapy is applied by a skilled practitioner, clients feel comfortable “tender pain”, even when a great amount of pressure is being applied on their body. This is due to the larger contact area from enlarged thumbs and from the way pressure is applied. In contrast, when shiatsu is applied by beginners, clients may experience sharp annoying pain with uneven shaky pressure. Clients can tell the amount of clinical experience of the therapist not only by how it feels during and after the treatment but also by observing the thumbs of the therapist.*
*Note: there are exceptions, since some shiatsu therapists are accustomed to using elbows instead of thumbs.