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What is Watsu?

Watsu is a unique massage, like you’ve never experienced before, creating the best conditions to release tension of all kinds. Thanks to the absence of gravity, water can mobilize your entire body in three dimensions, which does not occur in any other type of massage, as the combination of massage table and gravity always limits the possible moves.

It is not only the movements generated by the therapist, but your own body intuitively using the freedom granted by water, facilitating adjustments as to recover your natural wellbeing.

Watsu is a very powerful technique, not only physically, but also to relieve mental stress. Clients often describe a state of reverie, as if they were "flying free in the sky."

In Watsu session you will receive a mixture of stretching and twisting moves combined with Shiatsu pressure points; you may feel your body moving loose and free, like a fish in the water. At the end of the session, your spine will be more flexible and all your joints will be relieved after an hour in the absence of gravity.

Watsu is also an effective way to promote lymphatic drainage. Hydrostatic pressure stimulates and enhances blood and lymph circulation. If you've ever suffered from fluid retention or swelling of the joints, Watsu will be very beneficial for you.

Sometimes Watsu is also used as therapy for trauma-related water experiences or water phobia. The therapist holds the client always keeping his face above the surface, and thus allows you to experience a comfortable and safe floation, without having to work or worry about maintaining it.

 

Who benefits from Watsu?

The groups of people in which Watsu professionals note the most immediate benefits and changes after receiving a session are:

* Seniors: recovery of the joy of living, improved sleep quality, increased self-esteem, pain relief (knee pain, hip pain, lumbar pain, back pain ...), increased joint mobility, lightweight feel, improved respiratory capacity, improving digestion and reducing constipation.

* Adults: treatment of insomnia, improved concentration, mood and digestion, relief of muscle spasms and back- and/or neck pain, relieving headaches and migraine and anxiety relief.

* Athletes: faster muscle recovery after training, deep relaxation, increased joint mobility, improved flexibility, increased concentration, increased mental clarity and positive approach. Watsu is being incorporated in the high performance program for many sports (golf, horse riding, triathlon, canoeing, skiing, etc.) and within some European Olympic teams.

* Pregnant: Feeling of lightness, relief of back-, shoulder- and neck pain, relieving muscle spasms and sciatica, bonding with baby and partner.

* Children: relaxation, reduced hyperactivity, increased ability to focus attention (ADHD), improving concentration, improving social abilities.

Watsu also brings benefits, working in combination in the treatment of specific health problems such as asthma, fibromyalgia, spasticity in children and adults with cerebral palsy and chronic muscle spasms.

Watsu is being used in different countries and has proven effective in the treatment of patients with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) syndrome and people in situations of psychological and emotional stress: abuse victims, veterans (ongoing studies in U.S.), people who have suffered accidents, orphans and adopted children (a study in Hungary shows that orphans who receive a daily 20 minute Watsu treatment program, are more likely to be adopted).

 

Therapeutic benefits of Watsu

Physiotherapists and osteopaths, that incorporate Watsu into their skill-set, obtain a powerful tool to treat their patients in the aquatic environment, facilitating well-being in:

  1. Orthopedic conditions that can benefit from Watsu:
    1. Conditions that are affected by muscle spasms or contractions, pain and / or decreased range of motion.
    2. Back pain.
    3. Slipped disc.
    4. Traumatism.
  2. Neurological conditions where Watsu can complement rehabilitative therapy:
    1. Stroke.
    2. Brain injuries.
    3. Spinal cord injuries.
    4. Cerebral Palsy.
    5. Parkinson's disease.
    6. Multiple Sclerosis.
    7. Down’s Syndrome, Rett’s Syndrome, etc.
  3. Different types of arthritis that can benefit from Watsu:
    1. Osteoarthritis.
    2. Rheumatoid arthritis.
  4. Respiratory rehabilitation supported by Watsu:
    1. Asthma.
    2. Cystic fibrosis.
    3. Chronic pneumonia.
    4. COPD.
  5. The recovery of patients after major surgery is significantly improved through Watsu.
  6. Post mastectomy.
  7. The effects of Fibromyalgia and other functional disorders are eased through Watsu.
  8. RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrom).
  9. Patients with chronic pain (psychological support as a supplement) experience great relief through regular Watsu sessions.

Groups of people susceptible to benefit from Watsu as part of their treatment program:

  1. Victims of abuse (psychological support supplement).
  2. Post traumatic stress disorder syndrome (PTSD).
  3. Insomnia
  4. Job related stress situations.

 

Watsu specific effects on the body.

Effects on the parasympathetic nervous system:

  • Rhythmic and repetitive movements.
  • Decreased sensory input (visual and auditory isolation, loss of gravitational force).
  • Decreased sensory-touch information (soft friction of the skin in water through motion).
  • Mild stimulation of the vestibular system.
  • Physical contact with the therapist.
  • Use of specific manual techniques on the body.

 

Specific physiological impacts on the parasympathetic nervous system:

  • Decreased heart rate.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Increased lung volume exchange capacity.
  • Peripheral vasodilation.
  • Increased activity of smooth muscle (digestion).
  • Decreased activation of striated muscle (skeletal).
  • Decreased spasticity.
  • Stimulation of the immune system.
  • Improved activation of the lymphatic system (drainage).

 

Specific benefits of relaxation:

Immediate:

  • Increased joint mobility.
  • Decreased muscle spasm.
  • Decreased muscle activation.
  • Improved viscoelasticity of soft tissue.
  • Decreased pain perception (between 40 to 60%).

 

Long-term:

  • Improved quality of sleep.
  • Improved digestion and intestinal passing.
  • Improving the response of the immune system and ability to heal.
  • Improving the quality of life and perception of health status.

 

How did Watsu come to life?

Watsu originated in 1980 in Harbin Hot Springs (California) by the ingenuity of Harold Dull. A poet from the "San Francisco Renaissance" movement, who travelled the world, including a long stint in Japan, during which he studied Zen Shiatsu with Master Masunaga, he founded his Shiatsu school in northern California. As great lover of water, he began to apply the stretches of Zen Shiatsu on a massage table placed in a thermal water pool. He soon realized that by holding his client, he did not need the massage table, and thus Watsu was born.

Over 30 years later, and thanks to the contributions of hundreds of professionals from various other techniques, from Yoga to Physiotherapy, from Thai massage to Shiatsu, Watsu has evolved into what it is today.

 

Watsu today

Watsu MKS, the most technically advanced Watsu method

MKS Watsu technique is taught at the International School of Watsu, the brainchild of Giovanni Baccarani who, since 2005, with the support of his closest collaborators, has been dedicated to demystifying the "magic of Watsu", investigating what exactly creates the therapeutic effects of Watsu. Their goal: to professionalize this technique and reduce the "new age" air that accompanies it, developing all the potential it holds.

His studies have led to a quantum leap in the development of the technique of Watsu, leading to the creation of his own style, named MKS, shared through International School of Watsu.

Watsu MKS innovation lies in the focus given to the support of the receiving party. Practical evidence shows that only by respecting the physiological body alignment, you can achieve maximum mobility of the spine and the maximum amplitude of respiration. This has led to development of a new technique of holding clients/patients, consisting of 5 points of contact, which allows to control 16 variables of the alignment of a body in water, as described below.

The innovative head support TSC (Triangular Head Support) allows you to control:

  1. Anterior/posterior tilt of the head.
  2. Flexion / extension of the neck.
  3. Rotation of the head.
  4. Lateral flexion of the neck.
  5. Traction force applied under the occipital ridge.
  6. Position of the vertical axis of the head relative to the sagittal axis of the spine.
  7. Alignment of the shoulder with respect to the horizontal of flotation.
  8. Internal / external rotation of the shoulders (and subsequent opening of the chest).
  9. Lateral tilt of the trunk with respect to the horizontal flotation.

The fourth point of contact (on the side) together with the support under the sacrum, in combination with the TSC allows also to control:

  1. Flexion / extension of the spine.
  2. Lateral flexion of the trunk (you can create or control several curves at once).
  3. Torsion of the column.
  4. Alignment or dissociation of the hip axis with respect to the shoulder axis.
  5. Anterior/posterior pelvic tilt.
  6. Traction force applied under the sacrum.
  7. Depth of immersion of the pelvis.

This detailed control of the body axes and alignments, together with the introduction in Watsu of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) techniques, allows us to enhance the breathwork making active use of the properties of water (hydrostatic pressure, viscosity, buoyancy – Archimedean principle).

What for many is the "magic" of Watsu
– the supporting hold provided by the professional - is completed in the Watsu MKS
with results of real, deep and lasting wellness.

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