Emily King investigates watsu massage therapy, the water-lovers version of a shiatsu massage, and its benefits for the tense delegate.
Watsu is a body therapy performed in water at around 35°C. It combines massage, muscle stretching, dance, shiatsu and joint mobilisation. The therapist supports the receiver while they float, and moves their body into the required shapes.
Hilary Austin, the first watsu instructor in the UK, says that benefits of watsu include: “regeneration of the receiver, total relaxation, a decrease in stress, anxiety, fatigue and muscle tension, it releases toxins from the body, and improves circulation and breathing”; all of which are beneficial for any stressed and tired delegate.
The treatment is not available everywhere, but there are six Worldwide Aquatic Bodywork Association (WABA) registered, watsu clinics in the UK including in Northampton, Brighton, Staffordshire, Sheffield, Hampshire, and Bath.
Prices range from around £35 for a 30-minute session to £75 for an hour.
Harold Dull created this form of massage therapy in the 1980’s in California. Dull was an American poet and shiatsu massage enthusiast. He believed joining shiatsu with the ‘healing powers’ of water would be a more beneficial treatment.
Dull also set up the WABA which also functions as a network where information about pools and practice can be shared.
Dull claims in his book Freeing the Body in Water that you don’t even need to be a fan of water to enjoy watsu massages as “watsu can help people overcome any fear they might have around water”, so maybe you will be next to take the post-plenary plunge!