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The Ideal Blog

Ashiatsu Massage- what is it?

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

You may have heard of Shiatsu massage, but how is Ashiatsu massage different? Keep reading for more information.

Massage, Ashiatsu, Ashiatsu massage, Deep Tissue, Deep Pressure,
A massage therapist utilizing the Ashiatsu Massage modality to provide service.

Ashiatsu. It sounds exotic, different and, for some, intimidating. If you've never experienced it, it's certainly an experience to put on your bucket list if you are able to.

Barefoot massage has been used for thousands of years across a variety of cultures, but Ashiatsu is generally recognized as a Japanese massage practice. The Ashiatsu commonly taught and practiced in the United States was stylized in the 1990's and is a hybridization of traditional Ashiatsu and Swedish massage techniques, incorporating the use of lotion/oil and long sweeping strokes to promote relaxation.

What is Ashiatsu Massage?

Ashiatsu literally translates to "foot pressure" in Japanese. It may also be referred to as Ashiatsu Barefoot massage or Ashiatsu Bar Massage. It consists of the client laying prone while the therapist sits or stands, utilizing their feet to apply pressure.

While standing on the client, therapists are trained to utilize bars that extend from the ceiling to control the pressure and provide balance as they manipulate muscle tissue. If you like heavy pressure during your massage, Ashiatsu could be for you. One of the most appealing benefits of this technique is the added pressure a therapist gains by using more of their body weight.

But pressure isn't the only benefit of Ashiatsu. The use of the foot to perform massage can provide improved contouring to the body and minimize the painful strokes some people associate with other forms of massage. This is a result of the breadth of pressure being applied over a wider area. Therapists can use their toes, heels, and length of the foot to provide various kneading, palpating, and sweeping techniques designed to provide relief.

Massage therapist applying ashiatsu massage techniques to the shoulders while seated.

What are the health benefits of Ashiatsu Massage?

Like all massage, the greatest benefits are experienced from long term massage treatment. This means setting up frequent and regular appointments with your therapist based on your treatment goals.

Ashiatsu shares many of the same benefits as most Deep Tissue massage techniques. Alleviating pain and releasing tension are the most appealing benefits of most therapeutic work. Ashiatsu massage however has also been shown to improve posture and reduce nerve pain in the lower back and legs with frequent treatment. This form of massage is great for lengthening muscle and improving range of motion.

Is Ashiatsu massage right for me?

There are two things to keep in mind when trying to decide whether to book yourself an Ashiatsu massage: 1) Your medical history and 2) Your personal massage preferences.

Like other massage techniques, Ashiatsu stimulates multiple systems of the body including the cardiovascular and immune functions. As a result, this modality may not be the right treatment for everyone. Specific illnesses or injuries may prevent your therapist from working on you in specific ways or prevent them from providing Ashiatsu massage to you all together. These conditions may be exacerbated or put you at greater risk of injury. It's important then to report and consider your medical history prior to your appointment. Your therapist may have additional questions to ensure proceeding with the service is safe. Doing this before your appointment can reduce the chances of being turned away when the appointment is scheduled to begin. To make this a bit easier, Ideal Massage requires multiple consent forms for specific services including the general intake form required of all clients and the Ashiatsu massage consent form.

You may also wish to consider your personal preferences. What kind of massages have you received in the past? What do you like to experience in a massage? Ashiatsu massage is considered a deep tissue or therapeutic massage meaning that it can often leave you feeling sore afterwards. Some clients may even feel sore for a few days. In addition to the technique, Ashiatsu is often perceived as being an intense and heavy pressure. This is because in some movements, the therapist may be standing on you while using the bars to balance and moderate pressure. The capacity to utilize their full body weight to increase pressure is a signature benefit to this type of massage, but it may feel overwhelming to some individuals. If you are someone who prefers a lighter touch, or prefers strictly relaxation modalities such as Swedish massage, Ashiatsu may not be the right treatment for you.

A picture of Ideal Massage's expert Ashiatsu therapist

Overall, Ashiatsu massage is a great therapeutic service for some clients. It offers some additional benefits and is a great experience for those who enjoy heavy pressure or deep tissue massage experience.

Ideal Massage currently offers this service at both locations on specific days of the week. Our long time Therapist Yoko Hunt, provides this service and others.

Have you had an Ashiatsu massage? Share your experience in the comments below.


Disclaimer: The statements written above were not reviewed by the FDA or any regulatory authority. Tuning Fork Therapy may not be an appropriate treatment for all clients. Consult a medical professional to see if massage therapy and tuning fork therapy are right for you. This article was written by an employee of Ideal Massage for Ideal Massage.


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