Shonishin pediatric massage is a Japanese treatment that uses small tools to tap, rub, press, scratch and stroke the body’s skin. Shonishin translates to “Children’s Needle” although primarily used for children, Shonishin massage can be applied to anyone.
Traditional Shonishin pediatric massage became widely popularized in the 20th century in Japan. Unlike traditional acupuncture, Shonishin focuses on massage rather than needle insertion. Shonishin tools made of silver, stainless steel, bronze and even gold. Many of the tools have cute names and resemble objects like the “bug” and the “rake”.
Shonishin massage is a pragmatic system of treatment with minimal theory needed to apply treatment. Children are highly receptive to treatment and love it! Since the treatment is harmless, I usually let the children apply a bit of massage to themselves and even to me.
Other treatments that are used in conjunction with shonishin massage are the application of light cupping on the body to release stuck energy and/or heat. Cupping was popularized in America by in image of Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a backless gown exposing purple colored circles on her back. Unlike Ms. Paltrow’s treatment cupping on children is very gentle and leaves little to no markings.
To supplement the massage a practitioner may insert a few acupuncture pins. Depending on the child’s age the pins are usually not retained rather the pin is inserted and withdrawn in a painless way that the children barely know what happened. Additionally, ear seeds little gold or silver balls backed with tape or tiny press tacks can be left on the acupressure points for up to 48 hours to strengthen the treatment.
Painless Press Tacks placed on San Jiao 5, for earache (left). San Jiao 17 and Gallbladder 20 for earache and congestion (right).
I started my search into Shonishin massage because I was on the hunt to find a non-invasive way to treat my daughter’s enlarged tonsils. She contracted mononucleosis in Pre-K and since then her tonsils remained enlarged. Although she didn’t report feeling sick she failed her hearing test in Kindergarten. An ENT suggested surgery or hearing aids. I was devastated and I felt terribly guilty that I let her catch mono in the first place!!! (No one said being a mom came with rational thinking).
Before embarking on surgery I decided to do 30-Day intense treatment that included acupressure, neck massage, acupuncture, homeopathy, dietary changes, moxibustion and castor oil packs on her neck. Her hearing completely improved and she did remarkably well on her hearing test. Overall, she is stronger and more resilient. Her pediatrician was impressed.
One of the greatest elements of Shonishin pediatric massage is the ability to teach parents how to continue treatment at home. This not only expedites the healing process but can help parents feel more connected to recovery.
In the clinical setting and at home Shonishin pediatric massage is a great complimentary therapy for any child. Please have all children evaluated by their pediatrician first as Shonishin provides an excellent complimentary treatment to Western medicine. Children love treatment and you may find yourself getting a little massage yourself from your little one!
Tapping # 1 Back of the Body
Tapping # 2 Front of Body
Stroking #3 Front and Back