Watsu and its associated techniques were developed in the early 1980s by Harold Dull, director of the Harbin School of Shiatsu and Massage, in California. Watsu is an aquatic massage therapy that incorporates the principles of Zen Shiatsu and adapts them for effective use in warm water. It combines elements of massage, joint mobilization, shiatsu, muscle stretching and dance in warm water to correct ailments and promote healing. The name Watsu is derived from an amalgamation of the terms ‘Water’ and ‘Shiatsu’.
How does Watsu Massage work
Watsu combines the benefits of Shiatsu and aquatic therapies to provide a gentle and deep stretching massage therapy. The weightlessness experienced in water allows the massage therapist to ease the restrictions in the muscles and joints and manipulate the patient’s body in ways that are not possible on land.
A typical Watsu session lasts for about an hour. The treatment is carried out in a pool of warm water. Patients should bring along a swimsuit and towel. The massage therapist will provide you with small floats to prevent you from going underwater. At the same time, the therapist will support your head and lower back. The actual massage involves a series of continuous flowing manipulations and stretches followed by periods of rest. The warm water supports your body weight and at the same time relaxes your muscles. The series of manipulations and stretches are so gentle and harmonious that most patients do not even realize that their body muscles are being stretched and massaged. Watsu massage helps to release muscular and joint restrictions, relaxes the body and mind, and promotes stretching of the muscles.
Benefits of Watsu Massage
Watsu massage can alleviate a variety of specific ailments and can also be used as a general massage system to promote over-all relaxation. It has been effectively used in the treatment of chronic pain, to aid recovery from surgery and injury and free movement restrictions. It also promotes flexibility, muscle relaxation, fuller breathing, reduction in anxiety and stress levels, improved sleep and digestion. Watsu massage therapy is also used to treat conditions such as brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, and ankylosing spondylitis. Due to the gentle nature of the therapy it can also be used on children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Long term sessions also result in additional benefits such as a lower heart rate, decreased rate of respiration, an increase in peripheral vasodilatation, reduction in spasticity, and an enhanced immune system response.