Shiatsu and endorphins

Often, we may hear "Shiatsu" referred to as a relaxation tool, a true but limited definition for the treatment that does not denote its nature and broad results as a therapy. The pressure exerted with the fingers and palms of the hands in certain points on the body has multiple effects on our organism that go far beyond relaxation, in addition to encouraging the self-knowledge and understand better and more comprehensively the health. Through different physiological mechanisms of action, the Shiatsu promotes the capacity to self-healing of the body. Among the most notable effects of Shiatsu, is the release of endorphins.

Aze shiatsu

What are endorphins?


We tend to associate endorphins with the feeling of happiness and, no doubt, of welfare. It is not for nothing that they are known as the "pleasure hormones". neurotransmittersendorphins, substances synthesised by our brain, with a structure very similar to opioids (hence the name endogenous opioid peptides). At the moment of, for example, trauma, the body releases endorphins as a form of analgesic to relieve some of the pain and allow the body to react, adapting to what happened at that precise moment. 


In addition to this, endorphins play an important role in our emotional state and its liberation contributes to our feeling of relaxed and with a sense of well-being. They also influence other processes, such as the appetite and the dreamand enhance the immune system.

Where are they produced?


Endorphins are produced in our brain, in the brain's pituitaryfrom where it is secreted and reaches the rest of the brain and body through the nervous system, participating in the regulation of many physiological processes. 

Aplicación terapia Shiatsu Namikoshi

What do endorphins do?

As we have seen, endorphins are involved in multiple processes including: 

  • Decrease and modulation of the sensation of pain.
  • Positive effect on the state of mind which can range from a feeling of relaxation to the point of euphoria. 
  • The endorphins are released at the same time as the ACTHadreno-corticotropic hormone, in response to stressful situations and reduce inflammation.
  • They are part of the homeostasis (self-regulation).
  • They enhance the immune system.
  • They participate in the regulation of the appetitethe function respiratory and the dream.


Shiatsu and endorphins

The Shiatsu stimulates the autonomic nervous system, generating certain biological responses in the body. According to the "Book Among the seven important benefits of Shiatsu therapy for the body is its ability to regulate the functioning of the autonomic nervous system and, in turn, the functioning of hormones.


According to recent research, when Shiatsu causes this stimulationIn the morning, our body produces a natural painkiller: endorphins.

How are endorphins generated with Shiatsu therapy?


The mechanical stimulation of our pressures results in the release of endorphins in the blood, which are responsible for an important part of the effects of Shiatsu. They produce a feeling of well-being in the patient and also a certain light-headedness. Sometimes, at the end of the session, the patient seems to be under the effects of a drug, and in fact he is. He is under the effects of his own endogenous morphine. 



The endorphins are not a single substance, but a family formed by dynorphins, enkephalins, beta-endorphins, etc., with various functions. With this we are now in a position to understand and explain a fact of maximum transcendence: the Shiatsu pressures, carried out at the level of the body, have a very important function. peripheralcause a reaction in the central nervous system, in our brain, which, through the pituitary gland, produces endorphins with effects on a general, systemic level. 


The Shiatsu relieves pain by stimulating the body with pressure and in turn stimulating the release of endorphins. Not all therapies are able to stimulate the body to these levels, which is why we also talk about Shiatsu as a overall treatmentThe therapy is based on a holistic, holistic approach to the body. The therapy is based on a pressure effective because of its characteristics, thus generating beneficial results in the short and long termwithout side effects.

"The heart of Shiatsu is like a mother's love, the pressure on the body stimulates the source of life".


Tokujiro Namikoshi



Aze Shiatsu is the reconciliation with Western medicine without renouncing the knowledge of Traditional Oriental Medicine and always looking for the best methods to treat patients. 

Aze-style Shiatsu has in recent years become an important essential study stop for manual therapy practitionersIt takes the original Namikoshi Shiatsu to the next level, making it fundamental to the treatment of Western patients. 

This therapy is the result of more than 36 years of research and experience of the Master Shigeru Onodawho was a direct disciple of the creator of Shiatsu, Tokujiro Namikoshi. By treating and adapting the therapy to Western patients, the Master Onoda He adapted the Shiatsu he learnt in Japan to the western world based on his experience treating patients in Spain and with very favourable results.

It is an evolving method that combines all the knowledge that Master Onoda has studied in Japan and Europe. This therapy is applied on a stretcher, unlike Namikoshi Shiatsu, which is applied on a tatami, i.e. on the floor. In addition, this therapy includes the so-called Aze points, which are intermediate points between the traditional Namikoshi Shiatsu points. 

Shiatsu for Westerners

To answer the question of what is Aze Shiatsu, we must bear in mind that more than half a planet separates the western world from the eastern world. Specifically, the distance between Madrid and Japan is 10,645 kilometres. But we are not only distant in kilometres, we also have different customs, thoughts, food and rhythms of life.

So, if we differ in so many ways, why should our bodies be the same? There are differences between the oriental human body and western bodies that can make a difference when it comes to treating certain ailments. For example, the lumbar curvature in Western bodies is around 20% while in Eastern bodies it is only 2%. This affects, for example, the frequency of herniated discs. And even if there are cultural differences, pain always is and always will be common and universal in all human beings.

If you want to understand this therapy better, you can learn more about the history of its creator here: Shigeru Onoda's story is available in this entry.

Finally, we would like to thank all those who have been involved in the therapists and teachers from Aze Shiatsuwho share our passion for Shiatsu and who promote this therapy

If you're interested, you can learn Aze Shiatsu from scratch at the introductory therapy courses or in the Professional course of Shiatsu.

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In the Master Onoda Clinic Madrid, you can receive your Shiatsu treatment.


ONODA, Shigeru: Aze Shiatsu, basic treatment, Volume 1, ASF, 2017.

ONODA, Shigeru: Aze Shiatsu, lateral decubitus, Volume 2, ASF, 2017.

ONODA, Shigeru: Professional Aze style Shiatsu techniques, ASF, 2018. 

Shigeru Onoda


Who is Shigeru Onoda?

Shigeru Onoda he graduated as Shiatsu therapist in the Japan Shiatsu College in Tokyo in 1981, where he was granted the license that enables the practice of this therapy in the country. Even if that was not enough to Shigeru, he had another dream, extend Shiatsu beyond Japan and show it to the whole world. To do this, in 1984, he travelled to Spainto Madrid in particular, and created his own clinical Shiatsu and his own school, the Japanese school of Shiatsu. 

Due to the multiple treatments that was the end of the day, and their experience with hundreds of patients in Spain, Shigeru was able to secure the body to the japanese and the west are completely different; both anatomically and structurally. It was then when he started to work and develop Aze Shiatsu.

Master Onoda at his Shiatsu School in Madrid

And finally, Master Shigeru Onoda was able to see his dream come true by forging his Aze Shiatsu style. A style born out of the need to create a standard treatment in accordance with the needs of the style of european life after more than 36 years of experience in western patients.

Naturally, Master Onoda's Aze Shiatsu provides treatment on headaches, stress and absolutely all the ailments that the Shiatsu East can try.

Currently the Aze Shiatsu style is taught and practised every day by Master Onoda himself in the Japanese Shiatsu School of Madrid. The only school in which anyone can study, learn and to become qualified in this technique which has already gone around the world.

In addition, Master Onoda devotes all his free time to writing Shiatsu booksThe teaching material available to us at EJS is the result of his research and development work throughout his career.

Characteristics of Shiatsu


Main characteristics of Aze Shiatsu 

In previous blog posts, we have seen what what is Shiatsu,  on Aze Shiatsu, y its main benefits. In the following, we briefly explain the main characteristics of Shiatsu therapy: how it works, what it is for and how it can benefit our health. 

1. It is ution of the hands only

Shiatsu therapy is carried out exclusively with the hands and fingers, which means that it can be performed anywhere and at any time. In other words, does not use any kind of equipment. 

2. Diagnosis and treatment are carried out at the same time

This means that when the therapist presses on each region of the body, he or she receives information about the state of the body through the hands and fingers. Through this data, the therapist is able to determine the correct therapy to apply, thus achieving greater effectiveness.

3. No side effects

Shiatsu is a natural therapy, without the side effects of medication. Moreover, it does not go beyond the limit of pleasant pain and produces muscle relaxation. In other words, when receiving Shiatsu, the patient will not feel a sharp pain, but a sense of relief as the session progresses.

Cómo actúa el Shiatsu
Infographic explaining the applications of Shiatsu

4. Can be used for any type of person

Shiatsu does not choose gender or age. It is valid for children, adults and seniors.  In each case, the pressure is modulated and the appropriate treatment is given.

When it comes to childrenShiatsu for babies, in early stages, helps them to improve their physical constitution. For this reason, Shiatsu for babies is encouraged, which can be performed by their parents and strengthen the bond with their children.

In the case of adults is used as maintenance and prevention of illnesses. It is also very useful for women: in menopause, pregnancy, hormonal and emotional disorders.

For patients with old age helps to soften the phenomena of ageing, preserving abilities and making the body more flexible.

5. Sive as a barometer of healthlud (Medicpreventive action)

When we receive Shiatsu periodically, it helps us to get to know our body and to discover the possible changes and irregularities that may manifest themselves. In this way, it allows us to solve and tackle possible imbalances in the body. 

In addition, Shiatsu prevents the accumulation of stress and fatigue, and helps to prevent the onset of many pathologies.

6. Mental effect

During the treatment, the communication between patient and therapist allows, through hand contact, to harmonise the breathing of both. In this way, feelings of gratitude, affection and empathy are generated, which guarantee very effective results.

7. Comprehensive treatment

When we receive Shiatsu on a regular basis, the whole body is worked on, balancing the organism and maintaining a state of health.

These are the main characteristics of Shiatsu. But we will analyse in more detail its application for different pathologies in the next few pages. blog entries.

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Do you want to learn how to apply Shiatsu to the cranial area? Very useful to release stress, you can apply it to yourself! WATCH VIDEO

To learn, consult the Courses of our School in Madrid.


Scientific evidence for Shiatsu


The medical evidence 

Do we know the scientific effectiveness of Shiatsu? Shiatsu and Western medicine have the same goal: to improve people's health. It is the way to reach this goal that is different. In Shiatsu, people are treated as an indivisible whole, mind and body, and through the global physical treatment, improvements are achieved both on a physical level (general and local) and on a mental level (stress, emotional imbalances, etc.). 

Shiatsu and Western medicine can complement each other, as advocated by the Dr. Federico Santamaría (doctor and Shiatsu therapist). Here is a summary of Santamaria's analysis of the laboratory studies carried out by the EJS in Tokyo.

Analysis of 5 studies from the EJS Tokyo research laboratory (2013-2017) by Dr. Federico Santamaría

They consist of a series of Shiatsu pressures on different lines of points on healthy volunteers who are monitored to document how Shiatsu influences our body through the autonomic nervous system. 

First study: work on the 6 points of the midline of the top of the head (22 volunteers)

Second study: 8 stitches midline of forearm (26 volun)

Third study: interscapular area (19 volun)

Fourth study: Upper nape of the neck and lateral cervical region (35 volun)

FifthSubscapular, infrascapular and lumbar area (34 volun)

The variables they will obtain from the monitored volunteers are pupil diameter, heart rate and blood pressure. They are looking for measurable and quantifiable effects on the autonomic nervous system. 

La eficacia médica del Shiatsu


First study: No effect on heart rate and blood pressure. No effect on the non-stimulation group. Produces pupillary constriction after stipulation, implying a vagal/parasympathetic effect. In the first 30 seconds, the pupil dilates.

Second studyNo effect on heart rate and blood pressure. No effect on the non-stimulation group. Produces pupillary constriction after stipulation, implying a vagal/parasympathetic effect. In the first 30 seconds the pupil dilates.

Third study (Yuketsu point of heart is worked on)Produces pupillary constriction in the first seconds, decrease in heart rate and blood pressure in the stipulation phase and after stipulation (= vagal/parasympathetic effect) to a greater extent than the resting group.

Fourth study: Very important area in Shiatsu for the cervical area as it accumulates tensions, including the "anmian" point for treating insomnia. It produces pupillary constriction in the first seconds, decrease in heart rate and diastolic blood pressure in the stipulation phase and after stipulation (= vagal/parasympathetic effect) to a greater extent than the group that remains at rest.

Fifth survey: Produces pupillary constriction and decreased heart rate during stimulation and after stimulation (= vagal/parasympathetic effect). Blood pressure is not altered, and there are no alterations in the non-stimulation group.


Shiatsu, in general terms, brings our organism into a vagal/parasympathetic tone. This effect is most easily observed in pupil size (pupil constriction) and to a lesser extent in blood pressure and heart rate.

An initial peak of orthosympathetic activation (with pupillary dilation) is observed, but then gives way to a vagal/parasympathetic predominance.

If we want to check the real scientific effectiveness of Shiatsu, we should not rely on subjective elements. We must prove its effectiveness with a system that can be measured in real figures, that can be measured. And to be able to measure pupil, heart rate and blood pressure is the right way. Through such studies we can prove that shiatsu has a real and demonstrable effect on the human body.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY: information taken from Dr. Santamaría's explanatory video:






Does it help to improve our health?

As we have already seen in the PREVIOUS ENTRYAze Shiatsu is the great creation of the Master Onoda and the fruit of many years of study and work with European patients, whose bodies do not have the same anatomical and structural characteristics as those in the East. We will now describe its benefits. 

And how does shiatsu work?

Clase de Shiatsu
Students in class to learn Shiatsu

Aze Shiatsu is an integral treatment. In each treatment the whole body is worked on, as working on the problem locally does not cure the cause, but the healing effect is temporary. The aim of this therapy is get to the source of the pain, repair it and eliminate it.

Diagnosis and therapy are performed at the same time as the practitioner applies finger pressures to the patient's body. These finger presses give the therapist the information to determine the best course of treatment.

It is important to note that with Shiatsu you will never feel pain. The pressure will always produce pleasant sensations in the patient's body. That is why it is important that the therapist is a professional and knows how to harmonise the pressure according to the area being treated.

Aze Shiatsu is perfectly applicable to men, women and children of all ages. In the case of children, Shiatsu aims to improve their constitution, strengthen their body and thus improve their natural development. For adults, on the other hand, it aims to maintain and improve the general condition.

What can we achieve with Aze Shiatsu?

Aze Shiatsu para bebés
Master Onoda giving an Aze Shiatsu class for infants

Much more than just treating the affected part of the body, Shiatsu manages to balance our bodies and regain our natural harmony. In our day-to-day lives there are many everyday, imperceptible situations that cause us to lose our balance. If we twist our ankle, the body protects the affected area by using the other ankle more, thus shifting our centre of gravity. Other daily examples are crossing one leg over the other or using one hand more than the other.

The Japanese are used to receiving Shiatsu very often and therefore need more and more stimulation. That is why they think that a treatment only works if the pressure is strong. This is the opposite of Western people, who are much less accustomed to this type of treatment.

The western human being is looking for a treatment that does not cause pain, and therefore demands much lighter pressure. The stimulation of the patient should always be minimal, and will only increase due to the ageing process, which requires more stimulation.

Aze Shiatsu thus distinguishes itself from Namikosh Shiatsu, it is perfectly adapted to the Western human body, its mentality and lifestyle to provide the same benefits and advantages as traditional Japanese Shiatsu.

And if you're wondering what "Aze Shiatsu" literally means, it does: "Search for key points outside the meridian lines".

If you want to learn Aze Shiatsu, the only place where this training is accredited is the Master Onoda's School in Madrid.


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