ANDERSON, Ind. — Carey Bryson said she was surprised by her first shiatsu session.
“It was a little different than I first anticipated,” said Bryson, 41, of Anderson. “I was anticipating a very gentle touch, but it was more like a combination of a chiropractic adjustment and massage.”
Bryson, who was suffering from a digestive problem that doctors have been unable to diagnose, said shiatsu helped speed up the duration of her flare-up.
“I saw results,” she said. “Within 24 hours I felt like I was back to normal.”
While Bryson said she typically uses alternative medical treatments, she was happy shiatsu proved to be so effective for her symptoms.
“I would definitely recommend it,” she said.
Shiatsu, an ancient technique that means “finger-pressure,” originated from Japan and became popular during the 1970s. Like acupuncture and other Chinese-medicine-based therapies, shiatsu is used as a natural alternative to medical treatments to address many health and wellness problems.
Josh Medlin, 30, realized he could provide natural healing techniques like shiatsu while studying medical herbalism at Sacred Plant Traditions in Virginia when a massage therapist friend introduced him to the technique.
“Other than being on the floor and the client being clothed, shiatsu looks a lot like Western massage and does include many similar techniques such as stretches and compression,” he said.
Shiatsu and massage share therapeutic benefits such as stress relief, increased range-of-motion and flexibility, and generally better musculo-skeletal health, Medlin said.
But shiatsu can add a holistic element of both Chinese and Japanese treatments to improve a diagnosis and improve treatments both psychologically and physically.
“I initially thought shiatsu would complement my herbalism practice, but have been so impressed by shiatsu’s simplicity and remarkable effectiveness that it has surpassed my focus on herbs — at least for now,” Medlin said.
Shiatsu helps clients engage in their health care, he said.
“Each session is tailored to any concerns the client may raise as well as my observations and interpretations,” Medlin said. “I understand the shiatsu practitioner’s role as promoting the innate healing abilities of each client. That being said, someone willing to make changes necessary to better wellness will respond better to shiatsu.”
During a shiatsu session, Medlin encourages a client to gain the maximum benefit from the treatment by breathing deeply and providing feedback. Some clients, however, find the experience so relaxing they fall asleep, he said.
“After the session, I generally suggest some stretches and self-treatment of acupoints that should address the client’s condition, and often some specific advice for diet, herbs, and other possible lifestyle changes,” Medlin said. “I understand the shiatsu practitioner’s role as promoting the innate healing abilities of each client. That being said, someone willing to make changes necessary to better wellness will respond better to shiatsu.
“Shiatsu is not a drug that will invasively treat a condition and hide the underlying problems.”
Clients who do not take steps to correct problems after treatments may see the problems return.
Medlin said that Chinese medicine is complex and having its knowledge can be helpful to a practitioner, but even with the most basic knowledge, it can be powerful.
For two years, Medlin said he attended Zen Shiatsu Chicago where he studied shiatsu and graduated in 2013. A certified practitioner of Asian bodywork therapy, Medlin said he is also a state-certified massage therapist.
Currently, Medlin is an independent contractor at the Siloam Day Spa, located inside the Livrite Fitness Center, 4018 Columbus Ave. He has also opened White River Shiatsu, a home-based business, to provide services to a larger client base.
“I believe that natural healing therapies should be offered to everyone regardless of income level and have been looking for opportunities to volunteer bodywork with local organizations,” he said.
Medlin said, when performed correctly, shiatsu can treat anyone.
“Some chronic conditions I have seen respond quickly to shiatsu include constipation, anxiety, joint stiffness, breathing problems and severe headaches,” he said.
Medlin is available to answer questions or schedule Shiatsu sessions at (317) 652-6109. His website can be found at whiteriverShiatsu.com.
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