Up until 2002, I was one of those people who walked around barefoot whenever possible. While my feet were prettier looking than Frodo’s, no one would have wanted for me to use them to massage them. My entire life I had struggled with dry, cracked heels that were painful in the winter time and were mildly better in the summer.
That changed when I decided to learn barefoot massage. I got my first pedicure ever. There’s only so much you can do with Hobbit feet, though, I guess. I started wearing shoes instead of sandals and regularly scrubbed my feet with a foot file, testing the softness with my hands.
Miracle of miracles, this all helped to make my feet soft enough for barefoot massage, or so I thought.
When I learned ashiatsu, no one in the class complained about my feet. After installing my bars and practicing, my friends told me how I could improve my ashiatsu massage but no one ever mentioned my feet.
At the time, I was working for a chiropractor. When I thought I was (hopefully) good enough to practice ashiatsu on his patients, I asked him if I could do the barefoot massage on him and then asked for feedback.
He sat there. No response.
I was crushed. I had spent a LOT of money to take the class.
Doc, you have to tell me what’s wrong. Am I terrible? I’ll fix whatever I need to fix so I can do this for you.
“Actually,” he responded, “your massage was really good. Your feet need a little help, though. They’re rough. I think you need another pedicure.”
Oh. My. Gosh. I was going to be working on his patients and had specifically asked him what I needed to improve upon, and he still didn’t want to tell me that my feet were rough. (And this is why we insist our alumni get feedback from their practice clients.)
All along, I had been feeling my feet with my hands. Because our hands are used to feeling a multitude of textures and temperatures, my brain didn’t log that my hands weren’t supposed to be feeling these textures. My hands should have been feeling the softness and smoothness of feet ready for ashiatsu.
Thankfully, I discovered this early on in my ashiatsu career.
Why soft feet matters…
Have you ever gotten a massage from a therapist whose nails are too long or hands are rough? More than likely, you didn’t tell your therapist how crummy that felt–you simply didn’t reschedule.
The same goes for your feet–your barefoot massage may be a-MAY-zing, but if your feet feel rugged like you’ve been camping all summer sans shoes, your clients won’t be your clients for long.
Taking care of your feet is pretty easy–wear shoes, use a scrub or a foot file on a regular basis.
How do you know if your feet are soft enough for ashiatsu? Rub them on your shins-your shins aren’t used to feeling a bunch of textures. Roll your heels all around your skin on the front of your leg, and you may be surprised at what you discover.
Whether you have been ashiatsu-ing a long time or you’re getting ready to take our barefoot massage class for the first time, this simple tip will help you ascertain if your feet are soft enough for ashiatsu barefoot massage!