Watsu Massage: What is it and who can benefit?

Watsu massage or "water shiatsu," is a water-based modality that combines elements of massage, stretching, shiatsu, and joint mobilization. In a watsu massage, the water is typically warm, allowing the participant to feel a deep relaxation through the ebb and flow of the movements. The client is supported in the water the entire time they are floating while the practitioner cradles, rocks, and stretches the participant, creating a range of relaxing and therapeutic benefits.

The water element of watsu allows the client to free their body in ways that are not possible outside of the water. This is especially helpful for elderly patients as this massage allows them to move freely without bearing weight on their limbs and joints. The warm water relaxes the muscles and makes way for deeper stretches and manipulations without the weight of the body interfering.

Many use watsu with a specific goal in mind such as pain relief, physical therapy post-surgery, injury recovery, flexibility, relieving muscle and joint pain, and simply as a meditative relaxation technique. Practitioners can use this therapy on its own, or as a complementary addition to their therapeutic work. However, anyone can learn and practice simpler moves among family and friends.

While laying in a warm body of water with your eyes closed and ears under the water, you can only hear muffled sounds of the world as you sink into relaxation. Your surroundings begin to disappear as you are left only with the present moment, floating in pure serenity. Letting go of stressors and unnecessary thoughts and claiming this moment of peace while you rock to the gentle rhythm.

Participants often report effects of increased focus, improvement in mobility and flexibility, decreased pain and anxiety, improved sleep patterns, and an overall greater sense of Self. There is no right or wrong way to experience Watsu, and everyone’s experience is unique to their journey. Whether it’s the physical effect of “letting go”, the emotional effect of discovering new insights or revisiting past memories, or the spiritual aspect of connecting with oneself on a different level, watsu has much to offer.

Note: Due to the nature of watsu, the supplies, and area needed to perform this modality, Pure Knead Massage does not offer watsu massage.