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.
Whatever you do – safety is the main factor, with “making your life easier” in second place. So always check that all the equipment you use during an Ashiatsu session can support your weight, will stay secured, will remain stealthy silent, and will help you work with great alignment and body mechanics. My straps are a great tool that assists me in providing endless Ashiatsu sessions with ease.
The Ashiatsu-Strap allows me to work effortlessly on a diagonal angle to engage the lateral fascial line and offer different angles of pressure, still utilizing body weight and gravity to create tension in the strap that gets translated back into your client, without pinchy or insanely deep pressure – as what might happen without this extra support strap. You still have to be smart, think on your toes, and be aware of where the strap is at all times so you don’t lean back into nothing, or tangle yourself up mid stroke.
If the strap is ever in your way, you can just loop it over your bars, or install a hook somewhere to hang it on so it’s not in your face.
ASHIATSU-STRAP PART 1!
Ok, for the strap, get a metal “D ring” 10 foot long yoga strap. I use the Hugger Mugger brand – but any sturdy metal D ring will do. (You can also buy feet of this strap material online or in a fabric store). Slip the Ring end of the strap through the D rings and cinch it up around one of the stems of the eyebolt at the end of a dowel, let’s say this is my left dowel at the foot of the table.
ASHIATSU-STRAP PART 2!
The tail end: you are going to want to unscrew all the set screws on your right dowel.
Slide the dowel out of the 1st eyebolts up near the head of the table.
Tie a knot at the very end of the strap, or sew a thick “bumper” at the tail end of the strap by doubling back the fabric. Then thread the flat part through the hole of the eyebolt or Ashiatsu bracket. (Make sure there are no twists in the strap anywhere first!)
Slide the dowel back into that eyebolt hole, on top of the strap…..
Then screw the set screw back in: screw through the strap and into the dowel. (That’s what I’m doing in the picture, I know it’s a little blurry but do you see my screw driver and the set screw going up through the eyebolt, strap and dowel?)
Put all the other set screws back in, too.
ALTERNATIVELY, you could sew the strap into a loop, and just hang the loop off the end of your dowel, avoiding the need to unscrew everything. This is how our North Carolina Ashiatsu Instructor, Julie Marciniak secures her tail end of the strap.
ASHIATSU-STRAP PART 3!
Ok, so now you have the strap knotted and screwed into the 1st right eyebolt at the head of your table, (Or sewn and looped over the dowel) and the D rings are looped and cinched around the last left eyebolt at the foot of your table.
Get up there and lean back. Do your thang.
ASHIATSU-STRAP PART 4!
An added bonus? If you are Barefoot Massage trained for a modality performed on the floor, like say, Fijian Barefoot Massage, Thai Massage, Shiatsu or Rossiter Technique, you can save your hands even further by using the strap instead of any kind of under-hand support you might be holding onto – like the back of a chair, couch, or gymnastic-style parallel bars. The strap will be dangling right there within reach to assist you with your balance – just hold on lightly as needed, and work your barefoot massage magic!
Why not those underhand bars or the back of a chair? You can if you want, of course! My experience is that overhead support decompresses the typically compressed and overused joints of the hard working deep tissue massage therapist. However, underhand support can tend to compress your wrists, or compromise the stability of your shoulders from pushing or bracing yourself up. Plus, why push off of something and hold yourself up if you are trying to drop your bodyweight and use gravity to sink down deeper into your clients? There’s an opposing force of energy there that is making you work harder.