What is Ashiatsu massage?
Ashiatsu massage is a barefoot massage technique that has been performed for thousands of years, with roots in Asia and India. However, the type of ashiatsu massage commonly performed in clinics today is actually a Westernized adaptation of the massage style known as ashiatsu oriental bar therapy.
During ashiatsu massage, the therapist positions themselves above the client while holding onto parallel bars attached to the ceiling. Using the bars for balance, the therapist then uses their feet to combat deep tension in the client's muscles. Therapists are quick to point out that they're not stepping on people so much as using the bars overhead to vary the amount of pressure and weight they're putting on a client's body. It almost looks like they're dancing (while working out their biceps).
Ashiatsu massage vs shiatsu massage: what's the difference?
Though they have similar sounding names, ashiatsu massage and shiatsu massage are actually opposites by definition. The word ashiatsu literally translates to "foot pressure" (ashi = foot, atsu = pressure), while shiatsu means "finger pressure" (shi = finger). While both are forms of oriental massage therapy, ashiatsu is typically used to provide deep pressure, while shiatsu uses smaller, more focused movements to try to redirect energy flow or "chi" throughout the body.
As hinted at above, the main benefit of ashiatsu massage is that it allows the therapist to apply more pressure than they would otherwise be able to if they only used their hands. This is especially helpful for clients dealing with chronic tension that can't be tamed with a traditional deep-tissue massage. By targeting specific pressure points, the massage therapist's dancing motions can help decompress the spine in a way that may help relieve pinched nerves and back spasms.