Top ten benefits of Massage (Shiatsu) during pregnancy « Shiatsu blog

Dysmenorrhea and TCM

According to TCM theory, dysmenorrhea is usually caused by:

emotional factors, the invasion of the six exogenous pathogenic factors, and the stagnation of blood and qi;

or by retention of blood in the uterus due to liver depression and qi stagnation resulting from emotional upsets;

or by cold-dampness attacking the lower engergiser and lodging itself in utuerus (caused by walking in water or sitting on damp ground during menstration);

or by the constituional deficiency of qi and blood, or consumption of qi and blood due to serious illness;

or by congential defect or impairment of the liver and kidney, consumption of blood and malnutrition of the uterus due to multipary and excessive sexual activity.

The basic therapeutic priciple for treating dysmenorrhea is to regulate of qi, activate the blood, dissipate the cold, and clear the heat.

To get the blood and qi flowing, soothe the LV meridians, as this will regulate the qi and resolve stasis to stop the pain/ – Dong Quai (Radix Angelicas Sinensis [the mother of female herbs]) is helpful. As is ginger tea.

To disperse cold and to drain dampness, a full body massage concentrating on the warming meridians will help to eliminate stagnation. Cinnamon tea is good, as is Dong Quai.

To invigorate the blood, focus on strenghtening the SP meridians, as this will nourish the qi. Dong Quai is good, as is a mix of mint and chamomile tea.

To nourish the blood, focus on LV and KI, as this will replenish and enrich your essence (jing baby!). Dong Quai is good, as is ginger tea, and anything ‘good for the jing’.

Shiatsu Self-Treatment for Dysmenorrhea (and bonus TCM Sex tips!)

Here is a Shiatsu treatment pattern that you can easily perform on yourself or another.


If dysmenorrhea or painful mentrual cramping, began in your teen years, with your early periods, it is refered to as Primary Dysmenorrhea. At this younger age, your hormones were excitedly blossoming, ready for womanhood and yr stress levels would have had a direct effect on hormonal production.

Postaglandins or ‘local hormones’ will most likely affect yr cramping. These hormones cause muscular contrations of the uterus, and when overstimulated, can spread throughout the pelvic organs, causing contractions in many areas. This is a result, mostly, of stress, shock, or trauma, which upset yr system.

When dysmenorrhea occurs later in life, it is known as Secondary dysmenorrhea, and diff factors require our consideration. Stress, of course, is not limited to our adolecence, and may very well affect us in our adult life. Also, you could be influenced by the use of contraception or and IUD, both of which can have detrimental effects.

Your hormonal system is influenced by the Kidney chi and is esp sensitive to fear andaxiety which distrub the free flow of yr chi. The Uterus and its environment are regulated by Liver and Spleen chi. The Liver chi is responsible for blood storage and regulation as well as the muscular contraction inpetus; and the Spleen chi, for the quality of the flesh of the uterus. Other factors influencing yr moon cycle would be the invasion of cold and damp into yr body. This may be an accumulative effect of foods such as sugars, caffeine, or dairy products, which all contribute to chi stagnation.

External factors such as climate and such can also be influential on yr protective energy (Wei Chi) and immune systems. Try to keep yr pelvis well-insulated with natural fibre clothing during the colder seasons. The ankles have a special relationship to yr reproductive system, so keep them warm too.


Apply presure to the following points: LV 3, SP 6/10, & ST 36. As well as CV 3, & LV 13/14. Massage the nipples, as they will stimuate the ovaries and uterus, and using yr fingertips, gently massage the area btw the pubic bone and navel.


Heat (Yang) is relaxing for the cramping contraction (Yin), so a hot-water bottle on yr abdomen helps to expel the symptoms of the Cold and Damp. Try to avoid stimulants, such as coffee, tabacco, sugar, and chemicalised foods, to allow yr system to repair.


Here are two exercises that can be used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (mms) or ‘Ovarian Palace’. (It is also good as a sex improvement exercise, esp the second one which is kind of like a Chinese Kegel)

This exercise strengthens yr LV and CV meridians, both of which pass through the vagina, cervix, and uterus. This area is refered to in Chinese as the ‘Gate of Life’ from which new life develops.

1.) Sit confortable in a chair, on the floor, or even lie down.
2.) Breathe into yr hara, by expanding yr abdominal mms, like a baloon filling, as u breathe in. On the exhalation, contract the those mms to flatten yr abs. Repeat thrice for relaxation.
3.) On the next inhalation, expand the mms while ‘pushing down’ on yr genitals – you will feel the pelvic floor respond. Pull up on the pelvic floor, as you exhale. Repeat thrice.
4.) Focus into yr vaginal mms and squeeze, lifting and releasing these mms 10 times in quick succession. Try another 10 reps until u feel warmth w/in yr vagina – this is an indication of improved blood flow.
5.) As you become experienced in this practice, you can ‘think’ yr way into yr vagina as you pull upwards and draw the chi into yr uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Feel the glowing warmth spread throughout yr pelvis.


This is a useful exercise, relating to yr urinations, as yr urethra and bladder are part of yr genitourinary stystem. The excersise involves the controlling of the flow of urine.

1.) Start peeing, allowing 1/3 of the urine to pass and then squeeze yr vaginal pelvic floor mms until the flow stops for a moment. Then resume yr flow again.
2.) Repeat 2 or 3 times with each urination. W/ practice you will be able to completely stop yr flow at will – an indication of improved mm tone.

* Please NOTE: It is harmful to hold off urination for any length of times, as this strains yr bladder. Gt the toilet asap when you feel the need to pee.

These exercises will not only help to improve the pelvic floor mms for the regulation of menstration and better elimination, but also have the added benefit of allowing for more enjoyable sex, as you will have greater control of yr vaginal mms and may experience an enhanced intensity in yr orgasm.

Shiatsu Self-Treatment for PMT (PMS)

Premenstrual Tension (PMT) is a combination of various physical and emotional symptoms which occur in women one or two weeks before the onset of menstration.

For a long time PMT was thought to be a pychological condition women used to gain sympathy. Indeed even some dim-witted individuals still think this! However, it is recognised and defined as a ‘dis-ease’ and there are MANY theories about its cause. Obviously hormonal changes clearly influence PMT.

Another possible cause for PMT is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which is promoted by an unbalanced diet. Too much fat in yr diet puts pressure on yr liver, and excess salt promotes fluid retention, leading to bloating. If this is the case, it would be helpful for you to concentrate on establishing more regular eating habits. A good way to do this is to eat small meals throughout the day. Caffeine and sugar deplete yr body of the B vits needed to keep yr nervous system healthy and to stablise yr emotions. So try to exchange yr triple grande non-fat vanilla latte for herbal tea. (Chamomile and mint, blended together is also great for cramps!) Also, in my personal opionion remove meat, dairy, and eggs from yr diet alltogether.

Yet another cause for PMT might be an imbalance of postaglandins, causing the uterus to go into painful spasams (cramps). If there is an imbalace, yr circulation will slow down and you will feel chilly and exhausted w/ pain and numbness in yr hands and feet.

PMT is usually synonymous w/ mood swings, and the most common emotional symtoms include: irritability, tension, anger, depression, and sleepiness. It will often also affect yr self estem and you might feel low, lacking concentration and control of yr actions. Physical symptoms might inlude headache, backache, lower ab pain, and breast tenderness.

From the TCM viewpoint, PMT symptoms are a sign of blood and chi stagnation. Chi is the ‘commander’ of blood – when chi is stagnant, blood coagulates. This build up of tension w/in leads to all the diff symptoms listed above.

The organ in charge of ensuring a smooth chi flow throughout, is the Liver. Its influence extends all over the body, to yr intestines as well as yr uterus. Moreover, it has a great influence on yr emotional state: the smooth flow of Liver Chi ensures a ‘smooth flow’ of yr emotional life. So when you are walking around, feeling frustrated and angry, it is a sign that yr Liver Chi is stagnant. If the Liver is funtioning well, and its chi is flowing smoothly, yr emotional life will be happy and relaxed and your will find it easy to express yr emotions and feelings.

How do you get to this state of being and how can you stimulate yr liver engergy? Physical movemetn is any form is very beneficial, as the chi gets stagnated in the joints and tendons very easily. You can choose to do some stretching to activate yr LV meridian or dance to some music to release general stagnation. Kicking will help release tension in the hip area (an area which holds feelings like frustration and anger), as will hip rotations. Use yr voice to express yrself vocally in combo w. yr physical movements, create sounds to release inner tension and free up yr energy systems.

The Native Americas beleive that women are most relective and creative just prior to menstration, so this is the time of the month to give the artisitic part of u, a change to emerge and develop.


To disperse the Liver and regulate the chi, use the following points: GB 34, LV 3/13/14, TB 6, & HG 6.

1. Liver Meridian Release: GB 21 -> GB 29, 31, 34, 40 GB 40 -> 30
2. Ab Release: BL 23-> CV 14, 12, LV 14, ST 25 ST 25-> SP 13, GB 34, ST 36, SP 6, LV 3
3. Pelvic Release: BL 26 -> CV 6, SP 13, ST 30, BL 54 BL 54 -> BL 36, 40, SP 9, ST 36, SP 4

Important Golden points include: ST 25, 36, SP 6, 13, K 6.

During my treatments for PMT and dysmenorrhea, I use a lot of sacral points as well as sacral traction, and also use moxa to increase the point stimulation. [NOTE: only use live moxa if you have been properly trained.] For those w/o training there are moxa patches that can be applied like a bandaid, and are avail at most chinese pharmacies.

Another self technique that has proved to be helpful is activating those sacral points by sitting on yr hands. Put yr hands together, one on top of the other, and slide them (supine side up) under yr bum, so that the triangle shape of yr sacrum is matched by the trianglish shape of yr hands.

Menstrual Cycle Energetics

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory considers the menstrual cycle or ‘Moon Flow’ to be a natural reflection of the natural order of change. Everything is in continual movement, changing from Excess to Feficiency, Yang to Yin. TCM refers to the womb as a ‘Blood Chamber’, where menstrual blood is produced to enhance the womb environment ready for conception, should you choose to have a child. The production and elimination of the menstrual blood also helps to maintain the blood quality control for your entire body. As the blood builds up, it reaches an Excess and, if conception has not occured, the blood will be discharged as your ‘Heavenly Water’, when the Blood Chamber goes into Deficiency. That is why your energy level does fluctuate at this time.

Then the whole process starts again.

Visualise a circle, as your cycle certainly is. Starting with Day 1 and going to Day 28: Menstration -> Empty (Deficiency) -> Post-menstration -> Mid-cycle -> Full (Excess) -> Pre-menstration, then going back to Menstration again at Day 1.

When all is in order, there is no pain, so pain and other disconforts indicate an imbalance. Pls remember, any disconfort relating to your reproductive system, is a relflection of your whole being, so try not to think of your reproductive organs as a seperate entity which you dislike during menstration. Try to see your reproductive system as a part of the whole and think about the wonders of your body and what potential you can achieve!

Shiatsu and Breast Health

A few shiatsu techniques for self and clients to generate good breast health.

1. Daily tune up.
—-Treatment: gently tap across the chest – using either using a loose fist or flat hand for confort – above and around the breasts and across the ribs. Massage your breasts (a good way to check for lumps and other irregularites), giving particular attention to the massaging of each nipple (Stomach [ST] 17 is located in the nipple), as this stimulates ovarian functions and is also good for regulating or improving lactation in breast feeding mothers. Do this exercise daily to help maintain better ovarian health, which will assist hormonal regulation.
—-ST17/nipple stim is also a key tool in releasing oxitonin to help stop uterine bleeding after childbirth. This is one reason why breastfeeding immediately is very important.

2. To ease breast tenderness during monthly menses cycle as well as early months or pregnancy.
—-Treatment : for relief, gently massage your breasts with circular movements and apply gentle pressure to the following points using palms or fingers: ST13, ST16, and K22. Also treat the ST meridian in the legs, releasing yr diaphragm and treat the points: ST25, CV 12, CV 14, LI 4, and BL 21.

3. Breast lumps and breast cancer preventative work.
Breast lumps are any mass, cyst or swelling that can be felt in the breast. It is very important that you perform a monthly self breast exam (SBE), to feel for any changes/irregularites, and check for nipple discharge. [Please see my other blog entitled ‘October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Early Detection and Screening: The Self Breast Exam’ for more info] If you find any lumps or discharge, please do contact your doctor immediatley.
—-Treatment: as a lump or swelling is usually a sign of stagnation, it is recommended you treat the Liver Meridian, in the legs, focusing on L3/13/14. Gently massage your breasts and nipples and treat the points on the ST meridian: ST16/18. To improve circulation, treat the H meridians in the arm.
—-Lumps that are softer, tender, and not painful to touch, can come and go with the menses cycle, and are better after massage are due to Liver Chi stagnation. Lumps that are fixed and painful do not respond or the menses cycle are caused by blood stasis – an obstruction of blood, and requires medical advice.

4. Improving lactation.
Breastfeeding is important for maternal-child bonding, and will help to improve baby’s immune system, reduce the risk of allergies, as well as support the growth and development of yr child. Successful breastfeeding is dependant on yr ablility to produce a steady flow of milk. This treatment will ease yr frustrations and worries you might have and help to reduce the breast muscles.
—-Treatment: Use the following points in combination with a general soothing breast massage [pls see my other blogs on the the breast massage technique and the importance thereof]: SP18, L14, ST 13/16/17, HG 1, SI 11, and CV 17.
—-The realease of milk is stiumulated by the hormone oxytonin, which is in turn stimulated by, u guessed it, breast feeding. Encouraging you baby to suckle will, therefore, increase the ammount of milk you produce. Allow yrself enought time when feeding, as stress of anykind will negativley affect the production of milk. Caffeine is to be avoided, try mint tea instead! Yum!

5. Mastitis.
This occurs when infection enters the breast, usually through a cracked nipple. The breast will become hard, red, and tender. To avoid cracking, apply some calendula or vitamin E oil to your nipples and allow them to dry properly before putting on yr bra on after you have fed the baby. [more to come on nipple moisturisation at a later time]
—-Treatment: In oriental medical theory, this is a ‘hot disease’ and an excess condition. To help bring energy down in the body, massage your breasts and armpits; highlighting these points: ST18/36, GB21, LV3/14, SI 11 and good ol CV17.

****As this is October, Breast (Cancer Awareness) Month, I have only mentioned treatments and conditions for breast health. Pls do ask questions if you need assistance with point mapping or technique.