FAQ: Can you feel knots during barefoot massage?

Can you actually feel knots when you massage with your feet?  Every barefoot therapist has more than likely received this inquiry many, many times. With a little bit of effort, anyone who has feelings on the soles of their feet can learn to pay attention to even the finest bit of grit under their tootsies.

When I was a brand new barefoot therapist 15 years ago, I remember feeling something on someone’s erectors under the plantar surface of my foot. I didn’t know what it was, so I held onto the bar and felt it with my hand. It was a knot.

Like with craniosacral, if you think you’re feeling something, you’re feeling something.

We’re going to get just a teensy bit sciency here.

While there are a lot of special sense receptors, today we’re talking about exteroception.

General exteroceptors are present in the skin (for instance, the soles of your feet) and are “tactile”, which provides us with the ability to respond to external stimuli. In other words, they are what cause us to feel touch, cold/warm/hot, pressure, and pain.

Slight digression…In fact, if a client has neuropathy, she will lose her ability to feel in that area. Because she can’t determine if pressure is appropriate, you need to avoid working that area.

Our feet have a very high concentration of nerve endings because we need to constantly make micro-adjustments simply to maintain balance.

This sensory information makes our movements more fluid when we walk or dance on a client’s back.

Doctors have estimated that there are 100,000 – 200,000 of these nerve endings in the soles of the feet!

Can you learn to feel knots when you massage with your feet? Absolutely!

In fact, with practice, you will feel the fuzz stuck on their back from a new sweater. You’ll notice supple muscle vs ischemic and trigger points that feel like frozen peas or stringy, uncooked spaghetti.

Here’s how to improve your sensitivity in your feet so you can provide an amazingly intuitive FasciAshi session:

  1. Start wearing shoes. That’s right. And socks too.
  2. Wear shoes that fit well. If they are too tight, you can lose feeling in your feet. Cute ballet flats are actually not that great. Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers actually recommends that your heels should be elevated about 1/4″ – 2″ with good support.
  3. If you can walk on hot coals in your bare feet from years of living in Birkenstocks, it’s time to begin softening up those babies. Start with pedicures now. You can pay or do it yourself. We’ve got a great homemade ashiatsu foot scrub recipe to get you started.
  4. Close the drain on your shower and let your feet soak for a few minutes. Use a foot file (a cheapy from Walgreens will do the trick, a schmancy crystal one is extra nice) to continue to smooth off those rough bumps. Here’s how to see if your feet are getting soft.
  5. Walk on different textures in your bare feet and see what you notice. (We know you can feel Legos!) Is your carpet rough? Astroturf tickly? The wooden floor smooth or warbled from age? Can you tell the difference between how grass feels when it’s past due for a cut and after it’s been mowed?
    Can you feel a piece of yarn or even a hair under your soles? Pay attention to what’s under your feet.
  6. Do you still need help? Try the WarmFeet® technique,It was designed to help diabetics increase blood flow to their feet. The technique was designed to dilate the blood vessels of the hands and feet to increase circulation by using relaxation techniques.

When you’ve practiced palpating with your soles, you may end up like the Princess and the Pea.

Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.

And that’s a great place to be.


If you haven’t learned barefoot massage yet, how hard do you think it will be to feel what’s going on under your feet?

Ashiatsu therapists: how long did it take to trust what your feet were telling you?