Anma Passage and Palpation


Anma and Shiatsu are traditional Japanese styles of massage. Beyond helping you relax, these modalities provide the practitioner with information about where the body is holding tension or has lost muscle strength, skin elasticity and tissue resilience. Further, between the skin and throughout the muscles, joints and organs, the fascia or connective tissue provides critical information about lymphatic function, fluid circulation and cellular communication. Compromised fluid circulation through the fascia may be seen in areas where there is chronic pain and inflammation from lack of use or sitting, pain and stiffness from over use, and numbness, tingling or neuropathy from underlying chronic conditions.

Because healthy tissues should be approximately 70% water, anytime that level of hydration becomes compromised our physiology is affected. This is a natural process that affects everyone but tends to increase as we age or neglect to maintain adequate fluids in our fascia. By gently massaging and palpating the specific joints, muscles and skin both the patient and the practitioner begin to understand where the patterns of fluid imbalance have taken up residence.

We all create these areas simply by being alive. If you have a baby or children in your life, try feeling their skin and then compare it to your own (please explain to them what you are curious about so they begin to learn how precious their fascia is). Gently pinching the skin on their forearm and then comparing that to your own will reveal what I am describing. Most healthy children are soft and squishy, their bodies have not begun to lose the ability to relieve the physical and emotional tension they collect day to day. Watch them sleep. They wake up refreshed and eager to tackle another day. As we age our sleep tends to become less refreshing and instead becomes a struggle! Our body gradually collects tension around joints, in the skin and fascia, in the muscles and around organs. Gradually this tension creates physical barriers to healthy cellular communication. Although we are hard wired to maintain efficient fluid exchange, our busy, stressful lives tend to disrupt our natural capacity to metabolize the stress and tension we pile on day by day, year by year. You may be aware of areas in your own body that tend to collect tension—an ankle you repeatedly sprain, a tendency to constipation or diarrhea, allergies, frequent colds, tension or pain in the neck and shoulders, jaw, low back, wrists and elbows, scalp etc. These areas may be tight or even swollen (think dehydration, edema or swelling, chilliness, warm, dry or sweaty). The point is that cellular communication in other areas and physiological systems can be impacted. That`s why treating the whole body makes good sense.

Emily starts each acupuncture session with meridian Anma and Shiatsu massage. She gathers information from your body as the massage helps you begin to sink into relaxation. You may notice somewhat tender areas or points that may feel hollow, swollen or tighter than the surrounding areas. These are acupuncture points or areas that, if allowed to relax and rehydrate will disappear and lose their tenderness. Feel free to mention what you feel or ask questions throughout your session. Consider your session an opportunity to learn where your body needs some extra care and attention.