What is Ashiatsu Massage?
Ashiatsu massage is a type of massage performed with the feet of the therapist rather than the hands. Typically supported by bars hanging above the massage table, the therapist is able to put more force behind each movement, and in some ways more precision, which enables them to provide a deeper massage.
Ashiatsu massage does have a variety of forms and combinations that can be performed with it, such as Ashi-Thai massage, a combination of Ashiatsu and Thai massage styles. Both rely more on the feet and pressures capable only via these methods to provide deeper massages.
Why is Deep Tissue Massage Beneficial?
There are many reasons why a deep tissue massage is beneficial to the body. While traditionally they aren’t as relaxing, and may at times feel on the verge of painful due, deep tissue massage allows the therapist to work muscles that need more attention and may be in a more difficult to reach position.
Certain muscles are harder to reach and work than others, such as the pectoralis minor, a muscle in your pectoral, or chest area. This muscle, when strained, can be extremely painful and requires deep tissue massage to work it, as it's below the pectoralis major. This working is often also painful, but the results are a quicker and more efficient healing process as the muscles are made to relax and stretch in more beneficial directions, depending on the massage method.
Of course, even easy to reach muscles benefit from deep tissue. The work, being more forceful and deeper, isn’t always the most relaxing. However, it does force muscles to stretch and be worked in ways that, ultimately, allow them to relax far better than before. Often deep tissue is integral in the healing process of certain injuries, especially for those that may require a speedier process for work. Strains and sprains can often benefit greatly from deep tissue.
Others who may benefit greatly are individuals with extremely tight and tense muscles. This tension can be both a cause and effect of a variety of things, including poor posture and stress. Deep tissue massage can help these muscles learn to relax and return to more healthy positioning. The relaxation of the muscles over time with these deeper massages can help the body to function better, as well as the mind.
What’s the Difference Between Ashiatsu and Regular Deep Tissue Massage?
Ashiatsu is performed with the feet of the therapist, which is the moves obvious and surface level difference between it and traditional deep tissue massage. However, Ashiatsu massage also has many benefits that make it a better choice for many people, including less pain, deeper work, and more precise work.
One of the biggest problems with getting a deep tissue massage is the pain that may be involved in the process. Deep tissue is often more intense and is known to be more painful due to the extra force needed to perform it. However, Ashiatsu massage has the benefit of using larger surface areas to perform the same work, namely using the foot and the heel over the hand and the fingers. One of the causes of pain in deep tissue is the smaller surface area of the fingers and knuckles putting a large amount of pressure on the body. Ashiatsu is performed with larger areas, which results in the pressure being spread more evenly and feeling less intense and painful without sacrificing any of the benefits.
In fact, Ashiatsu is often able to provide deeper work than traditional deep tissue massage. This is due to the fact that the therapist is able to put their whole body weight behind each of their actions and movements, rather than straining their muscles to provide the necessary pressure and force. This also allows the therapist to perform longer sessions, as the stress on their own bodies is lessened with this method. This means that in fewer sessions you are able to get more, deeper work done on your body. This is especially beneficial for those who work out or have highly physical careers. Their bodies often need this deeper work, and the benefits of doing the work all in one sitting, rather than multiple smaller ones, are significant.
The work done in Ashiatsu massage is often also more precise. This is due to the therapist’s ability to get at different angles with a larger variety of pressure options that they can put into their actions. Traditional massage limits the angles and pressure levels a massage therapist is able to take advantage of, so while the work can still be beneficial, it isn’t as varied and precise as Ashiatsu. An Ashiatsu certified massage therapist is able to stand above you on a table and carefully pick what angle will best work each muscle. There are few locations which are better performed off the table, and this is often supplemented by them using chairs and walls to give them a similar level of full body force and angle variety for these particular areas.
What are the Long Term Benefits of Ashiatsu Massage?
Since Ashiatsu massage allows for deeper work, and for it to be done more precisely, therapists are able to really work muscles that are injured and/or extremely tense. The long term benefits include a more relaxed body, a reduction in stress, and quicker healing. These benefits are also longer lasted in Ashiatsu massage as compared to traditional massage or deep tissue massage.
Ashiatsu massage will work muscles that are sore, tense, or injured. The deeper and more detailed work has the benefit of stretch and loosening muscles that are struggling to properly function and relax. When worked, especially over multiple sessions, these muscles will often return to a more relaxed and flexible state. The overall effect is a body that is more relaxed, less tense, and more flexible. Generally, your day to day pain levels will also be reduced alongside all of these other benefits.
The result of a body that has had its stress and pain levels decreased is a mind that is also more relaxed. The way your mind and body affect each other is extraordinary. For example, a mind that is under constant stress will result in a body with a weaker immune system, resulting in a higher chance of illness. Massage, even deep tissue, is often a fairly relaxing process for the person being massaged, and therapists are usually flexible in how they care for your mind as well as your body. This may mean a room that is as quiet as possible or one filled with gentle music and friendly chatter, or anything in between. Between this, and your body becoming more relaxed itself, your mind will often feel refreshed and calmed after an Ashiatsu massage session.
Overall, Ashiatsu massage cares for your body first, but your mind is also healed by the process. The massage will work through areas of your body which are painful or struggling and will encourage stretching, relaxation, and healing. Many times when there is an injury, in particular, an injury to a muscle, massage is a recommended treatment option due to its many beneficial effects. Ashiatsu massage keeps with this tradition, and due to its deeper and more precise work, it's able to provide this healing more efficiently.
Ashiatsu Massage, a full body Experience
From head to toe, Ashiatsu massage can help to calm the body, encouraging healing, and aid in increasing flexibility. With the therapist’s full body behind their feet, it can offer deeper work than traditional massage. With the therapist at a better angle, and with more options for specialized areas of the body, they are able to offer more precise work that can work muscles more efficiently. All the while, Ashiatsu massage is often more relaxing and less prone to causing pain than tradition deep tissue massage, all without sacrificing, but rather amplifying, the benefits of it.
Whether you simply want to relax and release some pent up tension, or you need help in healing and recovering from injury or intense physical work, Ashiatsu massage can help you to recover and improve your health.
Author: Anjell Jesse
Published Author, Anjell Jesse gives her insights into the world of massage!
Though Ashiatsu sounds similar to Shiatsu, they’re not exactly the same thing. Shiatsu translates to “finger pressure” while Ashiatsu translates to “foot pressure.” Ashiatsu is performs on a massage table or a mat on the floor. Bars are set up either next to the Ashiatsu practitioner or above them. These bars are primarily used for balance while one or both feet are used to give the massage.
Ashiatsu is often for people who need deeper work, who are large, or want to try something new. Beyond the basic Ashiatsu classes there are advanced levels as well as Thai Ashiatsu. Thai Ashiatsu is often done clothed, as you would for Thai massage.
I received my Ashiatsu training from Red and Natalie at DeepFeet Bar Therapy in 2017. The class is 24 hours with mandatory 30 hours of documented practice outside of the class plus a test to become a Deepfeet Certified Ashiatsu Therapist. After 6-12 months of actively practicing Ashiatsu as a certified Ashiatsu therapist I will take the Thai Ashiatsu class. One day I will be certified in all advanced courses in Ashiatsu.
Ashiatsu Feels fantastic. You can get deeper work done without pain like you might with elbow work. A typical full body session lasts for about 90-minutes. If you have specific work you want done this can be extended to a 2 hour session.
There are certain considerations for people who want to receive an Ashiatsu session. People who are pregnant should not receive Ashiatsu. Alcohol and other dehydrating drinks may not agree with you before or after a session. Regardless of what kind of bodywork you have done, it’s important to stay hydrated.
If you’re not sure if Ashiatsu will work for you please talk to an Ashiatsu therapist and be honest about your health information. Your Ashiatsu therapist can give you more information specific to your circumstances.