Ashiatsu is my favorite style of deeper massage to receive, hands-down. Or feet-down, however you want to say it. As a solo practitioner, I don’t have easy access to good quality barefoot therapists close to me. Our instructors who have a team of ashi therapists have set themselves up well for both business purposes and for being able to conveniently receive ashiatsu. (Yes, they are smart ladies in many ways.)
Sadly, there are times when I don’t have half a day to block myself off for my 2-hour barefoot massage sessions. The ashiatsu massage therapists currently I see are about 50 minutes away.
When I can’t receive my barefoot bar massage therapy, my second choice is to get my hands-on deep tissue massage from a man. My other choice is from a tall, well insulated woman. (Stay with me here–there’s a point to the big vs smaller hands-on therapist!)
I like getting hands on massage from men and big, solid, farm-type women for two specific reasons:
- They are usually taller, so gravity will naturally give them better pressure.
- Their hands are bigger and thicker, so all pressure is broader and therefore more comfortable.
Little women have pointy little dagger elbows and thumbs. If I did “regular” massage, I wouldn’t even get a hands-on deep tissue massage from myself if I could.
I’ve been told my elbows can slice a loaf of bread. I don’t think that’s a compliment.
So if a taller, bigger person can give (in my opinion) a deeper, more comfortable hands-on massage, would a larger barefoot therapist be able to get much deeper in ashiatsu than a smaller therapist too?
Actually, that’s not always the case.
And I’m talking about “good deep” versus “holy cow, you are ripping my shoulder girdle off my body” pressure.
Early on after I learned back massage using my feet, I worked at a chiropractor’s (“Doc’s”) office alongside a couple of other ashiatsu therapists.
One therapist is shorter than I and about 25 lbs heavier- a solid muscle weight. Her theory was “balls to the wall” WWF smack down barefoot massage. She was straight up painful and didn’t know how to control her pressure. AT. ALL. (Don’t be that person.)
Another is my size and the last ashiatsu therapist is about 4 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier.
In my younger days, I believed that perhaps all weight and gravity was equal–the heavier the therapist, the more the pressure. But it’s not necessarily true.
I worked more deeply because I was more specific. Bare feet with narrow heels will feel more specific that big, wide, well-padded heels.
This is not to say that big heels are bad–not at all!
All feet have benefits.
Long, wide, and flat feet cover a lot of surface area and feel great.
Little therapists have demon heels.
In a good way.
A heavier ashiatsu therapist can use gravity to his / her benefit as far as pounds per square inch. Their usually bigger feet give the client delightfully long, broad strokes. Bigger feet simply may need to be more nimble than smaller feet in small areas.
There are a number of advantages to all size feet:
- smaller therapists can pinpoint muscles more easily than larger therapists
- bigger feet are broader and feet great
- flat feet allow the therapist to cover a lot of surface area.
So what’s the best, a 5′ therapist at 101 lbs or a 5’9″ therapist at 195 lbs?
Neither. Or both. The skilled ashiatsu therapist will learn to use his or her feet to their advantage. As Amber said in our last class,
I always thought my big, wide feet were terrible! Now I know that they were made to do this work!
Yes, you can learn ashiatsu barefoot massage if you are a bigger or taller therapist, and you can do really well with it if you work on your barefoot skills.
We’ve had tiny people in class who stomp around on the massage table like a Jurassic Park T-Rex, destroying everything in their wake.
And our instructors have all taught bigger therapists who were concerned about their weight but paid attention to what they were doing, allowing them to move skillfully about the table.
No matter your size, you can learn ashiatsu well as long as you can be coordinated and flexible and are mindful of how gracefully you move.