Watsu massage is an underwater massage that takes place in warm, waist-deep water. The weightlessness that the buoyancy of the water gives you, can be accompanied by a trained practitioner, known as watsuers, who will guide you into deep stretches in the pool of warm water.
A watsuer uses his or her own body to enhance the series of stretches that are being performed on the client, by bracing certain positions or wrapping the client’s body around his or her own.
It was developed by Harold Dull back in 1980, and since that time its popularity has grown. Dull, who had studied Zen Shiatsu in Japan, brought the principles of his Asian education back to North America where he was a massage therapist. He coined the idea of using the buoyancy of water to stretch his patient’s bodies, improving the flow of their vital energy throughout their bodies. Its name comes from a combination of the words ‘water’ and ‘shiatsu’.
It is also an excellent form of physical therapy for people with physical disabilities, such as arthritis, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida or paralysis. It is also a great form of physical therapy for children, adults and seniors alike. While for many people it takes just one Watsu session to become a believer, it may not be the right kind of massage therapy for everyone. That’s because it requires an enormous amount of trust because, after all, you are putting yourself literally in the hands of another person for a full hour and you are both in the water.
Some of the benefits reported from Watsu include:
- Decreased muscle tension
- Increased mobility and flexibility
- Decreased pain
- Decreased muscle spasms and spasticity
- Decreased stress
- Better sleep
Watsu has been found to be beneficial for a number of different health challenges, including:
- Chronic pain
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Spinal cord injury
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Traumatic Brain Injury