Because Ashiatsu Massage is still a lesser-known method of massage, many people wonder what it is and what to expect before they decide to give it a go. This blog explains it in detail, from the perspective of our massage studio.
Is Ashiatsu Massage for Me?
Ashiatsu Massage is a luxurious form of deep tissue massage. Although pressure can be customized and adjusted to match the recipient’s preference, this form of massage caters best to those who prefer medium to deep tissue work. (If only a light to medium level of pressure is preferred, a great option is our Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, which you can learn more about here).
If you find yourself always asking your massage therapist for more pressure, this is definitely the modality for you! With roots in ancient India and Japan, this technique has been refined over time to create a massage style that provides a truly enjoyable and therapeutic level of tension release and restoration. Using their feet rather than their hands or forearms, an Ashiatsu Deep Tissue therapist works with gravity to achieve a level of depth that is goes beyond what traditional massage is able to do.
The set up
Similar to a conventional massage, you will lay on a comfortably bolstered and heated massage table. Because most of the work is skin-on-skin, you’ll be asked to undress to your comfort level and you will remain professionally and appropriately draped throughout the session’s entirety. Ashiatsu massage therapists use a set of parallel bar attached to the ceiling, running the length of the massage table, to hold onto for support and balance while working standing above or beside you.
What does it feel like?
Because the therapist is working with gravity, the pressure should feel deep but not forceful. A major added benefit of delivering massage with one’s feet is that a foot has a wonderfully broad surface in comparison with other tools like the thumbs or elbows.
This allows us to access deeper muscles in a much smoother and quicker way. Rather than feeling “pokey,” Ashiatsu strokes should feel full, broad and luxurious, while still accessing and releasing specific areas of tension and adhesions.
While some techniques do involve the sustained, static compression (what can be generally thought of as back-walking), the majority of Ashiatsu massage involves long stokes that glide deeply along the back, shoulders, hips, arms, legs and feet. The heel and the ball of the foot can be used to target smaller muscles and tight joint spaces. If certain areas need additional pressure, the therapist can be use both of his/ her feet simultaneously.
Similar to most other massage styles, Ashiatsu is usually given as a full-body massage that includes work on the hands, arms, hips, legs, feet, neck, etc. Most common structural complaints of daily living (that typically result from poor posture, prolonged sitting, computer/ phone use and stress) are expertly addressed; specifically, this modality is almost unsurpassed in its ability to break up chronic tension and pain patterns of the upper back and shoulder joints.
Ashiatsu massage is the ultimate massage experience being that it promotes a state of incredible relaxation and stress relief (a mental escape) while also providing deep therapeutic work to the muscles, connective tissues and joints of the body. Because of this, it is extremely restorative and rejuvenating for both body and mind. Contrary to some deep tissue modalities, where pain is “part of the process” and recipients often feel unable to fully relax, the long, broad strokes of Ashiatsu deep tissue massage instantly calm the nervous system and naturally invite us to take long, purifying breaths while we let our minds go. The deep and nourishing work of Ashiatsu brings us back into our bodies, a place where we feel connected to and aware of our own musculoskeletal system. We have also learned that the more relaxed and relieved the nervous system is during massage, the more your body is able to receive these deep beneficial changes and release old postural holding patterns or injuries that cause pain and discomfort.
This feeling of calm reconnection to one’s body can create that experience of feeling blissed out, which is an important goal for many massage recipients! Why only gain physical recovery when you could spend 60-90 minutes feeling psychologically relaxed as well? Part of the reason Ashiatsu is seen as such a luxurious modality is that, in this sense, it provides the best of both worlds.
Having trouble with the thought of someone’s feet touching your body? This is understandable. Even Ashiatsu practitioners themselves may have felt this way before discovering and falling in love with this amazing work. Therapists wash their feet carefully prior to sessions and warm them using hot packs so that they feel incredible when placed on your back. (The heat also adds the therapeutic benefit of encouraging muscles to loosen). Once people feel the relief that this touch brings, it is easy to forget that someone’s feet are massaging them… In fact, clients often tell us afterword that they weren’t able to tell when we were using our hands and when we were using our feet during a session!
There are certain contraindications which wouldn’t make Ashiatsu the best choice for you (see this article for more information). Please always consult with your doctor with any questions regarding your personal health and receiving deep tissue massage.
Want to try out this popular and luxurious Deep Tissue modality? Check out our availability by clicking the “Book Now” button on your right and choose “Ashiatsu Deep Tissue Massage” from the menu.