What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is a traditional Japanese body therapy that works on the individual as a complete being. Shiatsu means “finger pressure” and is one of the oldest forms of medicine- healing with hands. Whether it be a physical complaint or emotional blockages that stand in your way, Shiatsu works with the physical structure and the inner-energies of the body to assist the body’s natural healing process and to restore balance.

Pressure is applied to the body alongside stretches, rotations and manipulative techniques which allows for treatment deep into the meridians (energy lines), muscles and joints. Shiatsu is a therapeutic practice which supports individuals in moving towards greater health and well-being.

Shiatsu works with the same meridian system as acupuncture.

Women who see Helen Hunt for Shiatsu treatments come for gynaecological health concerns, general ailments, emotional struggles, throughout pregnancy and for deep relaxation and stress relief.

Shiatsu & Women’s Health

Shiatsu can help with the following gynaecological conditions:

  • Menstrual problems:
    • absent periods (amenorrhoea)
    • heavy or prolonged periods (menorrhagia)
    • painful periods (dysmenorrhoea)
    • abnormally light or infrequent menstruation (oligomenorrhoea)
    • irregular periods
  • PMS (premenstrual syndrome)- back ache, irritability, nausea, breast tenderness, bloating and mood swings.
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids
  • Prolapse
  • Thrush


  • Support with gynaecological cancers
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Breast lumps (cysts)
  • Cystitis
  • Infertility

Shiatsu can help with life events associated with women’s health:

  • Menopause
  • Pre-conception, pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period (see Pregnancy Support section)

Life events such as starting our periods, becoming pregnant, having a baby, and the menopause can be supported really well with Shiatsu. Shiatsu helps to balance and realign the energy within our bodies which is so often depleted or congested at these significant times.

Shiatsu & Common Ailments

Shiatsu can also help with a range of other health problems:

  • headaches and migraines
  • whiplash injuries and neck problems
  • joint pain and reduced mobility
  • digestive problems
  • asthmatic symptoms
  • depression, anxiety and stress
  • sleep problems, insomnia and low energy levels
  • tight, stiff and tense muscles

Shiatsu & Emotional Health

When words are too painful, difficult, or when you feel fed-up with speaking, the body can do the talking and Shiatsu connects deep to support that place; to listen. Shiatsu touches the places where our story lives in the body, where our experiences are stored.

Shiatsu can help with emotional and psychological problems that you face, such as:

  • relationship difficulties, including sexual problems
  • recovery from drugs and alcohol
  • bereavement
  • living with long-term illness
  • low self-esteem, depression and anxiety
  • sexuality
  • dissatisfied with aspects of your life and wishing to make changes
  • shock and trauma
  • self-harm and eating disorders

What happens in a Shiatsu treatment?

The Assessment session is 90 minutes. Subsequent sessions last 75 minutes, longer treatments can be arranged. During the Assessment I will ask for details of your current state of health and your medical history. We will talk about what you want from having Shiatsu.

You remain fully clothed at all times. The session usually takes place on a comfortable futon at floor level, although it is possible to receive Shiatsu sitting on a chair if you prefer not to lie down or have mobility problems.

I will consider your state of health, the symptoms you are experiencing and, depending on your constitution and general energy levels, will use a variety of techniques to improve your energy flow. These may include gentle holding, pressing with palms, thumbs, fingers, elbows, knees and feet on the meridians and, when appropriate, more dynamic rotations, stretches and joint manipulation.

At the end of a session I may suggest simple exercises to do at home as well as other self-care measures to support the process of recovery. Many people choose to come for regular sessions, perhaps weekly at first to stabilise a condition, particularly when chronic and then less often, maybe fortnightly or monthly for maintenance of good health.


Helen has written two articles on Shiatsu and its place in conventional medicine…

Click the articles to view

The Role of Shiatsu in Complementing Conventional Breast Cancer Treatment

Shiatsu in Obstetrics & Gynaecology