Over the last seven years, I have been investigating, pursuing and researching a wide selection of health and fitness topics.
I have been sharing my findings and encounters in this column for the last 5 years. In that time, I have covered everything from acupuncture to Zumba and many points in between.
It is rare for me to find something new and different that has not been touched on over the last few years. Well, I have found something that has rocked my world and fixed a few aches and pains in the process. It is no secret that my zeal and impatience has brought on a fair number of injuries during my journey through health and fitness. Most recently being snowboarding for the first time, without lessons — yes, a bit painful. At least I have good timing for finding a new way to soothe my wounds.
Ashiatsu… and the best way to describe Ashiatsu? In a word, “Amazing!” Ashiatsu massage traces parts of its origins to India and a practice called “Chavutti Thirumal” which literally means “Foot Pressure." This very old form of massage, chavutti thirumal, was used to help warriors become more flexible and also used with medicinal herbal oils for healing the body.
Ashiatsu, as practiced today, has developed from many influences, both Indian and Asian as well as other cultures. The traditional form of barefoot massage was done with the practitioner holding onto ropes while the client laid flat on a mat. Today, the client is on a comfortable massage table while the practitioner stands on the table holding onto overhead bars for balance and support to deliver the massage. Yes, someone actually walks all over you barefooted, giving you one of the most painfully delightful deep tissue massages you will ever have.
I have to say my first session of Ashiatsu was a mix of extreme pressure and relaxation. The intense pressure along with the muscle manipulation brought me to the edge of my pain threshold. Since the Ashiatsu practitioner’s lower body strength can apply a deeper constant pressure with their foot placement and strength, the massage gives instant relief from the deep tissue fascial release. One reason I was so amazed by the effectiveness of Ashiatsu was the relief it gave me by breaking down a large adhesion under my left scapula. This particular adhesion had been bothering me for a couple of years and I had made many attempts to fix it through other means.
Ashiatsu practitioner’s usually have a very good sense of feeling through their bare feet. This foot sensitivity really helps them focus varying pressure and weight deeply into the tissue for an effective massage. Ashiatsu training is very specialized since the massage technique being done, standing using their bare feet, is very different from standard massage therapy. Some people may have an aversion to someone’s bare feet on them, but these are tools of their trade, so you should expect clean, well managed foot care from these professionals.
As mentioned, I believe the biggest benefit of this foot style massage is that the Ashiatsu practitioners can cover more area with deeper, longer massage motions. These motions also have the advantage of gravity, leveraging their leg strength to do most of the work.
Ashiatsu massage is suitable for most people, Ashiatsu is not recommended for pregnant women or those who have had surgery within the last six months. I am sure there may be other medical conditions that could prohibit someone from doing this form of massage, check with your Ashiatsu practitioner so they can work that out with you.
Ashiatsu massage is a must-try if you are very active or an athlete training for intense sports or fitness programs. It certainly helped me recover from a lingering and annoying injury that was keeping me from proper stretching. I have to say Ashiatsu massage was a great option for me and one of the very best massages I have ever had.
One recommendation I would give is be prepared to relax after the massage. It was so intense and relaxing at the same time that I was wiped out for the rest of day, so give yourself some downtime when the massage is done.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.