Are Shiatsu Massagers Safe?

It is certainly the case that whenever you plan to use a new device, a piece of equipment or even some kind of lotion, you want to make sure that it is safe to do so. In the vast majority of cases, assuming you have read the instructions and use the item correctly, there shouldn’t be any issues.

However, for every 99% of the times where everything goes to plan, there is the 1% where it doesn’t, so word spreads that the use of something is not safe, and that belief snowballs beyond the reality.

We have no way of knowing what you may or may not have heard about the safety of shiatsu massagers, but by the end of this article, we will hopefully have answered the question posed in its title.

What is a Shiatsu Massage?

You might already be aware that the word ‘shiatsu,’ is of Japanese origin. Translated into English it literally means ‘finger pressure.’ When a masseuse is giving someone a shiatsu massage, they use their fingers to press on precise points on the body.

As they do so, their fingers use a variety of rhythms and pressures. This action is akin to acupressure, as is designed to have the same effect in terms of promoting the body’s energy flow and unblocking any points where this flow of energy has stalled.

are shiatsu massagers safe

Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

The original shiatsu “pillow” massager. It’s ergonomic and sleek design fits perfectly in any chair and sits comfortably in the small of your back or neck.  

What is a Shiatsu Massager?

Now, what we’ve described is a shiatsu massage from a masseuse, which will undoubtedly be a positive, and safe experience. However, we are looking at the safety of shiatsu massagers which are normally handheld devices.

These will either be electrically powered or use a rechargeable battery. They are lightweight, and thus the user can easily hold it to, or place it on, any part of their body.

When they switch their shiatsu massager on it will use a number of spheres which can number between two and eight, or a moving head which has interchangeable massaging attachments.

The spheres or attachments move and rotate very quickly and seek to replicate the movement of a real masseuse’s fingers. The massager can be placed on a specific area of the body where pain relief or relaxation of muscles is required.

Options include increasing or decreasing the speed with which the massager operates, and many shiatsu massagers also use heat to maximize their effect.

You should note that there are also shiatsu massage chairs, where the user sits down, and spheres located in the backrest move to create the effect. One drawback is that a shiatsu chair can only benefit the back and shoulders, whereas a handheld shiatsu massager can be used on virtually any part of your body.

massage chair help back pain

Kahuna Massage Chair LM-6800

  • L-track, 4 roller massage system
  • Air-cell massage technology covers entire body
  • Space saving technology with 3 zero gravity positions.
  • Dual foot rollers on the feet area
  • Computerized body scan technology
  • 5 Manual Massage Techniques
  • 6 Auto Programs
  • Heating Therapy on lower back and legs
  • Adjustable roller speed and air cell massage up to 3 levels

Benefits of a Shiatsu Massager

One of the most desirable benefits of a shiatsu massager is that its effects penetrate deep into your muscles, and body tissue. This can provide lasting pain relief, loosen tight muscles, ease stiff joints, and give the user a feeling of refreshment and relaxation.

We mentioned tight muscles, and this is one of the primary reasons why people use a shiatsu massager. The problem with tight muscles is that inflicts several negatives on the person who has them.

Apart from possibly restricting movement, there is the pain which is created plus other muscles around the stiff ones have to work harder, and therefore the risk is that they become strained and painful too.

With a shiatsu massager, and especially one which has a heat option, the effects can often be instantaneous as both the heat and the movement of the massager on the appropriate pressure points pinpoint the muscles which need to be aided.

Potential Risks of Using a Shiatsu Massager

While a shiatsu massager is perfect for helping painful muscles, there are some injuries which it is not suitable for. Lacerations and broken bones are two such injuries which, using one of these massagers, could worsen the condition.

Another risk is from any shiatsu massager that has a heat function and that risk is specifically it overheats and starts a fire. Any that are made by reputable manufacturers will have heat cut-out safety functions. However, as with all products, there are going to be some which do not conform to safety standards and are dangerous, so please buy carefully.


Shiatsu massagers can provide a lot of benefits and there have been people who’ve used them and had amazing results in terms of muscle relief and pain reduction. 

Yes, there are some risks, but these only really have a chance of happening if the massager is sub-standard, or it is being used in situations where it shouldn’t be. So, our verdict is that shiatsu massagers are safe if used correctly.

An avid yoga practitioner, massage enthusiast, and wellness advocate since 2008. From then on, she has helped countless people alleviate muscle pains, tension and stress, to ultimately achieve wellness and balance in life.