What is Ashiatsu?

Have you ever seen photographs or video footage of a therapist walking on a client’s back, using overhead bars and straps as support?

That is Ashiatsu, a powerful and effective form of massage therapy that is one of our offerings here at Ha.Le’ Mind and Body. In Japanese, the root word “Ashi” means foot and “Atsu” means pressure.

Controlled foot pressure uses physics of both bodies – therapist and client – for maximum benefit. With feet, the therapist activates acupressure points and spreads tissue fibers, distributing more body weight and pressure than what is available during traditional massage therapy using fingers, hands and arms.

With the feet, Ashiatsu therapists push, pull and pump tissue to relieve symptoms of chronic soft tissue damage. Ashiatsu is very effective at treating scar tissue and is the most profound way to receive myofascial release.  The support bars and straps allow therapists to control the weight and pressure – Ashiatsu feels like a deep massage (which it is) more than it feels like someone is walking on your back.

Barefoot massage techniques have deep historical roots throughout Asia and date back at least 3,000 years. In India, oils on bare skin and one balancing rope characterize Chavutti Thermal. Elsewhere throughout the Pacific Rim, Buddhist monks would provide the healing art of barefoot massage, through clothing, to pilgrims who made financial offerings of support and devotion.

In the West, Ashiatsu was introduced by Ruthie Harding, who saw a group of women using their feet to massage a row of men on cots in the Philippines in 1967. The women all used one long rod suspended from the ceiling for support. During a trip to India, she saw a man stabilizing himself with two knotted cloths hanging from a tree while using his feet to massage a man on a mat.

I trained at Ruthie Harding’s facility in Colorado. Here in Nashville Ashiatsu massage is one of our specialties. The method creates a strong bond between therapist and client. Such a bond increases a client’s comfort level, making the massage more effective. We use a method of sinking into muscle fibers as breath allows, and the pace and knowledge of our therapist make our sessions therapeutic, profound, and beneficial.

One size does not fit all when it comes to body work, but for many of our clients in Nashville Ashiatsu is the perfect fit.

If you’d like to experience Ashiatsu, give us a call at 615-415-0242.