How to work deeper if you haven’t learned ashiatsu barefoot massage

This question of “how do I go deeper in a massage so I don’t hurt myself” recently came up in a massage group in which I belong. Of course, my obvious answer to learn barefoot massage and directed her to our website.

Sometimes it’s just not possible to take an ashiatsu class anytime soon. Maybe the kids are back in school, your rottweiler just had a hip replacement, or perhaps taking time off work and traveling simply isn’t an option at that moment.

Other factors weigh in also, like the massage therapist’s ability to step onto the table, and their health.

Perhaps learning barefoot massage simply is out of the realm of their comfort zone. One of the funniest things I ever heard was when I was doing my ashiatsu thing in public is when two very out of shape women walked by, sneered, and said in a southern accent, “Nah, that just ain’t raht!”

Until you drink the ashiatsu Kool-Aid and become one of us, here are some options for going deeper in a massage – some great ideas offered by other “hands-on” therapists out there.

*Disclaimer–we may not be able to do some of these because we Ashi’s give massage therapy with our bare feet, but feel free to give them the old college try!

Tips from hands-on massage therapists to work deeper

👣 Utilize forearms and elbows as much as possible and save your hands for neck and harder to access/ small areas (remember that elbows are POKEY, though!)

👣 Try lowering your table and using good body mechanics. Let the force come from your legs, not your upper body. Keep wrist soft when using elbows or forearms can help give wrists a break, but make sure you aren’t just bruising the client.

👣 Raise your table higher. It supports the forearms.

👣 Try skin rolling.

👣 Apply less lubricant.

👣 Use your body weight, not your strength.

👣 Respect your boundaries. Don’t go deeper than is comfortable.

👣 Use tools.

👣 {My favorite comment!} ↬ Learn barefoot massage. I did ashiatsu for 12 years and did lots of deep work.


Even Deeper Massage Tips from the FasciAshi Instructors:

👣 Know your anatomy. Know WHY and WHAT you are pushing into, and work on the part of the muscle that needs it most. Know what lays underneath that muscle, because you’ll be pushing that top layer into it. (Is it bone? Is it another muscle?!)

👣 Work with your client’s breath…. and your own.

👣 Work at the muscle from a 90 degree angle. Wherever the fibers of that muscle line up with the underlying bone: aim for that pitch. Massaging on a shallower angle is good, but the skidding, shearing pressure takes more effort to go deeper than directly aiming at it head on.

👣 Remember that slower is better–you’ll sink in more deeply if you take your time. Go so slow and maintain pressure so long that you forget why you are there.

👣 If your client resists, lighten up. You are fighting an extra hard battle at that point!

👣 Try a stickier lubricant: ever tried bees wax or butter? Creme instead of slippery lotion? Nothing at all?!

👣 Put the muscle or fascial line in a stretch, then massage it as usual. It’ll feel deeper, so you won’t have to work so hard to hit the level of pressure the client and muscle “kneads”!

👣 Get an electric table and adjust the height throughout the session to get the best angle and leverage to each body part.

👣 Slide between your client and the table, use THEIR bodyweight for deeper pressure while your arm bones and knuckles massage.

👣 Have fun! And if you aren’t having fun, come learn FasciAshi!!

As far as using tools, there is a multitude of products that some therapists swear by. We recommend checking this site for some good tips to whatever tool you use.

Remember that gravity is your friend. If you haven’t learned ashiatsu barefoot massage, keep your shoulders relaxed, suck in your gut, and don’t work on a client so deeply that it hurts YOU!