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A psychiatrist's view on Shiatsu

Updated: Jun 7, 2019


Article contributed by Dr. Tom Herregodts.



The psychological benefits of Shiatsu

Dr. Tom Herregodts writes:

In my practice, we are a group of practitioners in mental health - mainly working in the field of Anxiety Disorders with patients dealing with a range of anxiety disorders (from serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to 'simple' phobias). Our treatments often include meditation or physical techniques.


The usefulness of shiatsu is obvious to us, both in general and specifically

In general: many neuro-feedback systems that are responsible for muscle tone, skeletal strength and visceral systems only have a connection with the spinal cord and do not have a central or cerebral connection. Yet they can hold old pain reflexes and shiatsu can play a role here (where meditation does not). The impact of shiatsu on these circuits seems obvious and the chance of lasting 'relaxation' or positive neuro-feedback can only be enhanced in combination with our 'central' work.


Specific applications:

1 / Affective blockages (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder):

Persons who are affectively and sexually traumatized or blocked are again confronted with touch and both central and peripheral neuro-feedback can be reset or retrained via Shiatsu.


2 / Chronic fatigue due to prolonged high level of stress: the body is so exhausted and the muscles are constantly under tension or necrosis (fibromyalgia).


We (emotional therapists or body workers) primarily try to lower the level of stress at the origin (hypothalamic or limbic through meditation) and this creates the possibility to improve the peripheral neuro-feedback. It seems logical to me that the result of this work increases as the neurovegetative system reacts more parasympathically to the environment.


But a lot of people are too exhausted, have too much pressure pain or spontaneous muscle pain that requires a deep relaxation of the muscle fibers to first improve peripheral strength and flexibility in the muscles, tendons and blood supply. The combination of central and peripheral work can only have a cumulative healing effect. As soon as the muscle fibers become more healthy or gain strength, we can rebuild the skeletal strength or activate the healthy neurophysiological or muscular chains. Thereafter, deeper meditative work (especially with dynamic meditation techniques that are essential for severe traumas or deep fears) becomes more evident or possible.


Find out more about Dr. Tom Herregodts and his work www.brainmanagement.be (website in Dutch).




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