Bolstering for Ashiatsu

To give your client a safe, comfortable and effective barefoot massage, it’s important to support them with specific bolstering for Ashiatsu where needed. We do this in many unique ways, from how we use a flat pillow for ankle and knee support while prone or supine, to what tools we use to position their body to best absorb and distribute gravitational forces and our weight.


Bolster #1: The Boob Pillow.

The purpose of a breast support pillow, when it comes to Ashiatsu, is to position “the girls” while supporting the sternum, clavicle, ribs and cervical spine when under pressure. Keep in mind that the table below the client is resisting your weight, and pushes back into the client’s body.

This “Oreo” of pressure coming from above and below your female client’s torso can translate into suffocating force in the chest, or a position of their head and neck that adds compression to the throat.  Having a cushion helps your client maintain thoracic, cervical and shoulder alignment so that she may comfortably absorb the pressure applied by your feet. Keep in mind that the breast recesses built into massage tables don’t always work well with Ashiatsu because the table is still there to push back on the throat – so give the girls some lift, and put an added level of padding underneath!

7 reasons why your barefoot massage approach matters

One of the great things about our ashiatsu barefoot massage class is that we bring in outside clients for the students in a class to work on. These are not random people picked up off the street, but rather ashi-experienced men and women who give excellent feedback on technique, approach, dismounts, pressure, etc.

Other than improving pressure and consistency, which definitely takes practice, I universally hear these things from the class clients after having received a full body barefoot massage session in ashiatsu class:

Ashiatsu massage tables

Some people ask us if there is a certain ashiatsu massage table they should be using to do barefoot massage. While you can probably still use the table you already have, there are tables we definitely prefer. Our favorites are the Earthlite Ellora and Spirit.

Will other tables work?

The short answer is: it depends on the brand and model. We’ve worked on many different models with different results. Many tables cost less due to less solid materials and only 2″ of foam.

If you want your clients to come back, make sure your table has 3″ of foam.

Once I had a student working on me when I heard cracking coming from the table.

Specialty massage–should you charge more?

When I first learned Ashiatsu barefoot massage, my instructor told our class that we should definitely charge more for the modality. The theory behind it was that people would pay more for a specialty massage.

I had been working at a day spa, and we were supposed to charge more for deep tissue and hot stone. “Supposed to” being the key words, as no one ever booked the pricier massage but simply asked for more pressure.

Paying more for hot stone massage–I get it! There’s a lot of prep time and clean up time, so there’s the massage time plus a good additional 15-20 minutes of extra work. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to include the time spent trying to fix my frizz ball hair I had after sticking my head over a hot pot of steaming water. 😉

Bringing ashiatsu to paying clients, the problem I first encountered was that I worked for a chiropractor who did insurance billing. Massage is massage is massage in the land of billing. No upccharge for craniosacral, trigger point, ashiatsu, etc.

On my own–let’s charge more!

So when I started to take my own ashiatsu clients, I decided to charge just $5 more. At the time, my fee was $50/hour, so an extra 5 bucks seemed reasonable. But then my first client, who is 6’3″ and 240 lbs, said he’d love to try it but couldn’t afford $55.  He could barely squeeze out the $50.

“Nevermind!” I answered. “I’ll do ashi anyway because it’ll be easier on me and I know you’ll love it!”

Massage classes online?

Where I live in Ohio, massage therapists are not required to acquire continuing education at all, unless you belong to a professional membership, like AMTA or ABMP. The State of Ohio Medical Board, through whom I’m licensed, does not require CE hours.

While there are currently efforts for the Medical Board to require 24 hours of massage continuing education every two years with renewals, I’ve seen some interesting reasons why we “shouldn’t” have to do continuing ed:

  • The human body doesn’t change, so why should we learn more?
  • Classes are too expensive.
  • Massage therapists don’t make enough money-the cost is unjustified.
  • 24 hours is a ridiculous amount. 12 would be – well, okay.
  • I don’t want to waste time on classes that don’t interest me.
  • It’s too hard to leave my business to take classes.
  • Therapists who have been licensed for 10 years + should be exempt.

This, friends, is frightening to me. Not only do some massage therapists not want live classes, but they don’t want classes at all.

For some time, there has been a push for online learning for massage therapists. On the surface, it seems like a good idea. Therapists can take classes at their leisure, in their own time frame, can save money by not having to take off time and work due to live class time and travel.

Online continuing education classes for massage therapists are typically significantly less expensive too. Don’t therapists may feel like they get their best bang for their buck when fulfilling their continuing education requirements online? Probably.

Is this best for the massage industry or for massage therapists, though?

What is Ashiatsu Massage?

Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage is a massage. That’s it, honestly. A licensed massage therapist will provide a professional, well educated massage service catered to a clients needs, and they just so happen to use their feet as the tools that deliver the technique, rather than hands. Why should a person try Ashiatsu?


You can talk about it’s depth and consistency of pressure. You can go on and on about how you use 1 foot at a time unless the client happens to weigh more than pounds than you… you can talk about your overhead bars or your super sturdy massage table… you can explain your soft, smooth, clean feet…  you can mention how it saves your own body…. FOR REAL THOUGH!?

Do you go into that much detail when you explain a deep tissue massage that’s delivered from your upper limbs?! Not usually. Although ALL of this information is imperative to explain at some point during your client education, sometimes you are limited on time, so get to the point. Let them ask those questions instead, and you can come back to these key points while keeping them engaged in conversation.


How do YOU introduce this specialized technique to your clients or your surrounding community? Do you have a rehearsed elevator speech that explains the key benefits a person may experience when receiving an Ashiatsu massage from you? Sometimes an on-the-fly elevator speech seems intimidating, but it can be really fun and inspiring when you speak from your experience!

Instead of memorizing a script and repeating it back like a robot, aim to embody your own walking/talking advertisement so that when you need to, the words will roll off your tongue and fit the situation. Here are some tips to explain your work intuitively and fluently:

Ashiatsu Strap: it’s got your back!

Tuesday TOESday for Ashiatsu Massage Therapists … here’s a new tip to make your Ashi more Awesome.




Massage Therapists from across the country are asking me about my Ashiatsu straps and how to use them. These extra supports are something I’ve had in my practice since my first year practicing Ashiatsu back in 2003, and since then I’ve been influenced by Aerial Yoga, Slacklining, Chavutti Thai and my own pure laziness and love of hammocks to better utilize the assistance it offers.

When I broke my wrist in 2011 and still needed to teach Ashiatsu workshops in San Antonio, and provide the deep stretches from Ashi-Thai services to my clients while I was in a cast – my strap kept me working, kept me balanced, and offered the leverage I was missing from my hand that was stuck in a sling, so the straps helped me provide 1 handed, 2 footed massages!

They are just yoga straps, but they are a life saver. Having a strap on your bars is a great tool to help you hoist yourself up onto your table anywhere in one easy step, rather than just at the head or foot ends of the table. It will help you to save your hands even further, by not needing to death grip the bars anytime you need to lean out.

A strap helps you avoid the temptation to hang like a monkey (which honestly causes you to drop out any potential pressure – so by hanging you are only working harder to go deep.) The creative angles that your strap will support you into really helps to give you smooth leverage during the FasciAshi strokes we’ll teach you in our courses. You can lean back into the strap at varying angles, and it’ll have your back like a hammock. You can even lay on it like a hammock!!! This tool is a staple to this new generation of Ashiatsu, and is just as necessary as the overhead bars.