Do’s and Don’ts When Getting a Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage, a traditional Japanese technique, has become a popular aspect of Singapore’s wellness scene. Known for its method of applying pressure with fingers, Shiatsu aims to balance the body’s energy pathways and can provide relaxation and rejuvenation.

Shiatsu is practised in settings that focus on both physical and mental well-being. This article will cover the key points you need to know about Shiatsu massage in Singapore, including spa etiquette and when it’s best to opt for or avoid this type of massage.

Basic Spa Etiquette for a Shiatsu Massage Experience

When you step into a spa for a Shiatsu massage, you’re entering a space dedicated to healing and relaxation. The ambience, rituals, and interactions within this space are governed by a set of unwritten rules or etiquette that ensures a harmonious experience for everyone involved. Let’s delve deeper into these aspects:

  1. Punctuality and Scheduling: Arriving on time is paramount. Shiatsu sessions are often tightly scheduled, and being late can disrupt not only your therapy but also the schedules of subsequent clients. If you’re visiting for the first time, it’s advisable to arrive a bit earlier to complete any necessary paperwork, understand the facilities, and settle in comfortably.
  2. Pre-Session Communication: Before your session, take a moment to discuss any health issues, injuries, allergies, or specific pain points with your therapist. This information is crucial for tailoring the Shiatsu experience to your needs and ensuring your safety and comfort. Don’t hesitate to mention your preferences regarding room temperature, lighting, or music volume as well.
  3. Technology and Distractions: In our hyper-connected world, stepping away from digital devices can be challenging but is essential in a spa setting. Turn off or silence your phone to not only respect the tranquillity of the space but also to allow yourself to fully disconnect and immerse in the healing experience. This digital disconnection facilitates a deeper connection with your body and the therapy.
  4. Respect the Space and Atmosphere: Spas are designed to be oases of calm and serenity. Speaking softly, moving gently, and respecting the quietude of the environment contribute to maintaining this peaceful atmosphere. It’s also a gesture of respect towards other clients who are there to find solace and relaxation.
  5. Personal Hygiene: Since Shiatsu involves close physical contact, it’s important to ensure personal cleanliness before your session. Most spas provide facilities for clients to freshen up. It’s not just about courtesy to the therapist but also about feeling comfortable and confident during your massage.
  6. Understanding the Nature of Shiatsu: Recognize that Shiatsu is more than just a physical massage; it’s a therapeutic interaction. Approach the session with an open mind and heart. The therapist isn’t just working on your muscles; they’re engaging with your body’s energy system. Respect for the therapy itself, as well as the practitioner, enhances the healing experience.
  7. Post-Session Etiquette: After your session, take time to gently transition back to the outside world. Drink water, rest a bit if needed, and softly reengage in conversation. This is also a good time to provide feedback to your therapist about your experience and discuss any follow-up care or sessions.

Do’s and Don’ts While Getting a Shiatsu Massage


  1. Relax and Breathe: The effectiveness of Shiatsu lies in its ability to harmonize the body’s energy flow. Relaxing and breathing deeply allows this energy, or ‘Qi’, to flow smoothly.
  2. Communicate Openly: If you feel discomfort or need pressure adjustments, communicate this to your therapist. Shiatsu is about personalized care and comfort.
  3. Wear Comfortable Clothing: Unlike many massage therapies, Shiatsu is often performed with the client fully clothed. Wear loose, comfortable clothing to facilitate ease of movement.


  1. Avoid Heavy Meals: Eating a large meal before your session can be uncomfortable due to the pressure applied during Shiatsu. It’s best to eat lightly or allow a few hours after a meal before your appointment.
  2. Don’t Rush the Process: Shiatsu is not just a massage; it’s a holistic experience. Allow yourself time after the session to slowly get up and savour the sense of calm and rejuvenation.
  3. Refrain from Over-Expectations: Each Shiatsu experience is unique. Avoid going in with specific expectations of outcomes, as this can detract from the authentic experience and its benefits.

When to Avoid Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage, renowned for its holistic approach to balancing the body’s energy, can indeed offer numerous health benefits. However, it’s crucial to recognize that certain physical conditions and circumstances warrant caution or even avoidance of this type of massage therapy. Let’s explore these situations in more detail:

  1. Severe Osteoporosis: Individuals with severe osteoporosis are at a higher risk of fractures due to the brittleness of their bones. The pressure applied during a Shiatsu massage, even though it’s typically gentle and focused, could potentially cause harm to weakened bones. Therefore, individuals with osteoporosis need to consult their healthcare provider and possibly seek alternative, less pressure-intensive forms of therapy.
  2. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): DVT is a condition where blood clots form in deep veins, usually in the legs. Massage therapy like Shiatsu, which involves applying pressure and manipulating muscles and tissues, could dislodge a blood clot. This situation can be extremely dangerous, as a dislodged clot can travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, a potentially life-threatening condition.
  3. Infectious Skin Diseases: Conditions such as severe acne, skin infections, open wounds, or contagious skin diseases like impetigo or cellulitis can be exacerbated by massage. Additionally, there’s a risk of transmitting the infection to the massage therapist or other clients. It’s advisable to wait until these conditions are fully healed before undergoing Shiatsu massage.
  4. During Pregnancy: Pregnancy, especially the first trimester, is a delicate time. Shiatsu involves pressure on specific points that, according to some beliefs in traditional medicine, could potentially induce labour or affect the pregnancy negatively. While there’s a lack of conclusive scientific evidence in this regard, it’s generally advised for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare provider before receiving Shiatsu massage. Some therapists are trained in prenatal massage techniques and can offer safer alternatives.
  5. Other Medical Conditions: People with certain chronic conditions like advanced heart diseases, recent surgeries, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or certain types of cancer should exercise caution. The manipulation and pressure of Shiatsu might exacerbate these conditions or interfere with treatment and recovery processes.
  6. After Heavy Alcohol Consumption or Drug Use: Receiving a Shiatsu massage under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs is not advisable. These substances can alter your body’s response to the massage, increase the risk of adverse reactions, and impair your judgment and feedback during the session.


Shiatsu massage is an immersive experience that transcends mere physical manipulation. It’s a journey that engages the body, mind, and spirit, requiring an understanding of its nuances and respect for its principles.

By following these do’s and don’ts, and recognizing when it’s best to avoid Shiatsu, you can fully embrace and benefit from this ancient and therapeutic art form. Remember, the key to a successful Shiatsu experience lies in the harmony between the client and the therapy, resonating well beyond the massage table into everyday life.


Denisse loves reading and writing about culture, history, and politics. Outside writing articles for The Singaporean, Denisse enjoys musicals, gaming, and Harry Potter.

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