Is Ashiatsu the same as Barefoot Massage? What is the difference between a Barefoot Massage and a Foot Massage?
WOW! So many questions, and we get them often from our clients as well as from massage therapists. I’m sure you’ve either asked, or have been asked these questions, too. So lets break it down!
Barefoot Massage is a growing specialty in the massage therapy industry where the massage professional utilizes their FEET as tools to give the massage rather than hands. A foot massage is where the clients feet are being massaged through techniques such as Reflexology, Acupressure, Thai Foot Massage, or a general foot rub – like what you may receive from a Nail Technician during a pedicure. A Bear Foot massage is another thing entirely, ha!
“Give it weight, then wait” to impact the fascia (but really, the nervous system) is a pretty heavy theory that we’ve found to be important to our FasciAshi technique. Addressing the deep fascial bands, navigating the contours of muscle and bone, and applying a great amount of pressure directly to specific tissues creates a form of myofascial release that your hands only WISH they could achieve with such consistency and accuracy. The broad pressure from a Barefoot Massage is a no brainer for deep bodywork. Moving slower, OR NOT AT ALL, helps you get to that “deeper than deep tissue” feeling so many clients are looking for.
Any ashiatsu therapist who loves to do seated work will tell you that you need to make sure you stretch your hip flexors. I personally often can spend 20-30 minutes doing seated work during a 90 minute session (depending on the client’s needs.)
You need to make sure you keep your hip flexors loose in order to do this or you’ll end up walking like Quasimodo.
This move is like your typical runner’s stretch, but it has an added component: the side stretch.
This time of the year, many of us are struggling with warm hands and feet when we do our barefoot massage. In fact, I often have a problem in the summertime too when the air conditioning is cranking. Today, we’ve got a cheapo heating pad to the rescue.
Firstly, the directions tell you not to lie on the heating pad, but that’s because the manufacturers don’t want you to fall asleep on one and burn yourself. I’ve had an unlucky client who lost her match with the heating pad this way (at home).
Standing on it is ok because you’re really on there for a short while. Plus, you’re awake. And you can tell if it gets too hot. By that time, you have been happily massaging with those hot feet.
We see it all the time when massage therapists are learning barefoot massage in class. They step on each side of the client’s body by the hips. Invariably the sheet pushes the client’s bum down towards the massage table.
It feels just plain weird. And annoying too. Plus, it makes your client aware that you are walking on the table.
They KNOW you are, but they don’t need to FEEL that you are.
I’ve said for years in class that learning the right amount of lubricant for Ashiatsu is really one of the trickier things to figure out. If you use lotion, it absorbs too quickly. Oil tends to be hard to reapply-I’ve felt it drip on my back from 3 feet up. Gross. And we’ve tested various massage creams too. Some are dry, some are more viscous.
So what’s the best Ashiatsu massage cream?
It’s really very individualized. We’ve found that some therapists want to stick with what they’ve been using for hands-on massage. Sometimes that works, sometimes not so much.
Today’s Tuesday TOESday tip is a simple one for all massage therapists, whether you do barefoot massage or not. A small Mother Earth pillow under the client’s neck is a lovely accoutrement. Clients love it and frequently comment on how nice it feels when I place under their cervical spine.
The small bolsterfeels great under the client’s neck when they are supine, and it warms the tissues well. This makes it even easier to get in deeply with your toes or fingers.
But it’s a pain to take the cover off, and worse to put it back on. They need to be washed each time they touch the client’s skin, and they have to hang dry.
And if you accidentally put one in the dryer, good luck getting it back on the pillow! I learned this the hard way. It was, I imagine, about as easy as putting a girdle on a walrus.
If you’ve ever had a barefoot massage client who is so tall that they have to duck to get through your doorway, then you can bet they’ll be so tall that they’ll dangle off the ends of your ashiatsu massage table, too! Today’s tip tells you about a little-known massage table accessory – the head rest extender. Contact a FasciAshi Instructor to buy one at a discounted price!
You can also use a footrest extender at the other end of the table – but in both cases DON’T STAND ON THEM!! (They really only can hold enough weight to support the client, not also your bodyweight.) We’ve previously shared a barstool trick that allows you to stand off to the side or on a diagonal if you need more leverage to lunge into those larger clients.
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.