Some science behind the scenes

Arms and hands

There are a large number of meridians and trigger points within both the arms and hands. According to both the Chinese and Japanese systems, there are connections between the hands in particular and various organs of the body.

The mapping on the hands can appear a little crude at times. For example this older picture on the left shows the Shiatsu system mapping! Compare this with the TCM picture on the right.

Older Shiatsu system mapping

TCM system mapping

The picture below comes from the reflexology mappings.

Reflexology mappings of the hands

A physical system does underpin this functional system and it is the physical nervous system. There is a network of nerves called the inter-costal system that controls the communications network in the area of the heart. In the arm the nervous system is called median system. Median system and inter-costal system are linked.

A large number of nerves run down the arms and into the hand.  As can be seen the hand itself, particularly the palm of the hand contains nerves that interconnect and flow to the spinal column.

Intercostal nerves

The intercostal nerves are the anterior divisions of the thoracic spinal nerves from T1 to T11.

Each nerve is connected with the adjoining ganglion of the sympathetic trunk.

The intercostal nerves are distributed chiefly to the thoracic pleura and abdominal peritoneum.

  • The first two nerves supply fibers to the upper limb in addition to their thoracic branches
  • The next four are limited in their distribution to the parietes of the thorax
  • The lower five supply the parietes of the thorax and abdomen.

So loosely speaking arms and upper intercostal nerves are interconnected.


Japanese finger pressure therapy – shiatsu – by Tokujiro Namikoshi
Health and vitality at your fingertips – shiatsu – by Tokujiro Namikoshi
The complete book of shiatsu therapy – by Tokujiro Namikoshi
Shiatsu therapy theory and practise – by Tokujiro Namikoshi