People all over our Western culture are looking for ways to de-stress, relax and alleviate pain. Yoga, massage and other preventative health modalities are on the rise, with studios and practices available in every neighbourhood.  In Courtenay BC, and other cities..  perhaps Shiatsu is a modality that people don’t often think of, unless they have heard of someone who has experienced it, or been to Japan themselves.  However, there are a many qualified practitioners in our beautiful province.

Shiatsu is a traditional bodywork therapy that originates in Japan. Though you may not be aware, the effective techniques of Shiatsu have roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Along with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, in TCM the practitioner would often be well versed in the ways of applying massage techniques to help alleviate the concerns of their patient or client.

Through the relationship between China and Japan, medical approaches were shared and the Japanese arrived at their own branch of traditional massage - known as Anma. Through the years this information was passed along and integrated into a popular massage therapy known as Shiatsu. In Japan, this technique is even being used in hospitals.    

Shiatsu in Japanese means “finger pressure”.  Traditionally it is offered to the client, fully clothed, sitting or lying on a thin futon on the floor. Following an intake where the therapist looks at not only the musculoskeletal system but also considers the organs, circulation, lymphatic system, environmental and psychological concerns, the practitioner applies pressure with their thumbs, palms and fingers to the associated meridians and acupressure points.  This technique removes stagnation and increases energy flow, promoting circulation, flexibility and healing. In addition to alleviating stress and pain, Shiatsu is also excellent for enhancing athletic performance and encouraging renewal following physical activity or work. 

The following is a short list on some conditions that can benefit from Shiatsu:  

  • Pain, 
  • Headaches/migraines, 
  • Back pain, neck pain,
  • Musculoskeletal & repetitive strain injuries (including sciatica, frozen shoulder, elbow and wrist issues)
  • Digestive concerns, 
  • Insomnia, 
  • Whiplash, 
  • Chronic fatigue, 
  • Fibromyalgia, 
  • Anxiety and depression.     

Shiatsu Therapy, in addition to benefiting the organs and circulation of Qi in the body through acupressure to meridian lines and points, also greatly benefits the myofascial system.  It does so through this unique combination of pressure and stretching.  A full body session is provided, and the client appreciates this approach in that it gives a feeling of wholeness - Body, Mind and Spirit.   

At this time of year it’s also prudent to mention: Shiatsu helps when the weather is cold and damp!  In the fall and winter our bodies slow down, contract and turn inwards. As such, we can appreciate the enhanced circulation and flexibility that a Shiatsu session gives us. Come and experience the healing touch of this amazing and nurturing healing art!  


Rick Van Hassel BA Kin, RST, CST is a Kinesiologist who works in the field of physical rehabilitation and practices the healing arts of Shiatsu Therapy and Cranial Sacral Therapy . Rick practices in Courtenay and Victoria, BC.  Through his company, Phoenix Healing Arts, he provides clients with holistic sessions that are therapeutic on all levels of their being: Physical, Mental, Emotional & Spiritual.  Rick also provides physical exercise programs for strengthening and conditioning, and teaches a unique Meditation and Energy Work system to help you live a life of complete Wellness!  

Connect with Rick at or call 778-533-0464