Ashiatsu is an ancient form of massage stemming from Western cultures. In Japanese Ashiatsu literally translates to “foot pressure.” It is performed with the therapist’s bare feet giving firm, broad pressure. Ashiatsu allows gravity to do the work using the therapists body weight while holding on to parallel bars on the ceiling for balance. The depth of pressure can be more than hands-on massage because the foot takes up much more surface area and can get even deeper into the muscle fibers.
While some may be put off by the thought of someone’s entire body weight on them, rest assured, pressure is something unique to each individual. Some like the pressure to be as deep as the therapist can give, while others want it to be more relaxing. Ashiatsu can provide both. On a scale from one to ten (one being the lightest feeling and ten being excruciatingly painful) the pressure that is healthy to feel is around a six or seven. More than that number range is not beneficial to the client. When you tense up during a massage, more pain patterns are created in the body and it ends up doing more harm than good. You should be able to relax and feel the therapeutic benefits without having to bear down and cringe. Throughout the session, your therapist should check in with you and ask “what number does this feel like to you?” and adjust accordingly. During regular massage, to get the same type of pressure Ashiatsu gives naturally, therapists sometimes use other tools, such as an elbow. This direct and specific contact may feel too intense or sharp for some. The softness and width of the foot gives the same depth with half the discomfort and strain for the therapist. However, if more specific trigger points or “knots” are discovered the therapist can use the heel, ball of the foot or toes to access these pain points.
Ashiatsu is also very beneficial for massage therapists. If you think about it, the wrist is not meant to be a weight bearing joint. We put so much emphasis on our hands and wrists doing traditional massage. However, the ankles and knees are meant for that kind of wear and using the bigger, stronger muscles in the legs, you can do this style of massage with ease. Another great thing about Ashiatsu massage for the therapist is the posture! Hopefully, we were all taught in school the correct body mechanics to execute a great massage while protecting and maintaining proper form. Sometimes, we compromise this to get to a specific area of concern for the client. Sometimes, it’s been a long day and we get tired and end up hinging at the waist and straining our low backs. Ashiatsu allows you to stand upright and elongate your spine.
There are many amazing benefits for both client and therapist in this wonderful modality. We proudly offer Ashiatsu at Evergreen Massage.
Julie Anzovino, LMT and Ashiatsu Therapist