Ashiatsu….God Bless You???
My name is Linda Johnson; I am a licensed massage therapist, (LMT) and have been for 14 years. I have continued my education in many modalities of massage. One of my favorite class and method of massage is Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, AOBT for short or as I like to refer to it, Ahhhhshi. It has been dubbed the ‘deepest most luxurious massage your ever receive’. Ashiatsu is a Japanese term meaning foot pressure. There are only a few forms of barefoot massage use the hands above the head. These healing art forms can be found from Eastern Asia to the Pacific Rim and they are not always considered massage as we know it in North America.
ABOT is one of the techniques that attracts the most questions even when people are just looking into the massage room on a tour of the newly remodeled Yolo Laser Center & Med Spa, because it requires bars to be installed on the ceiling of the room. Yup, bars. They look like parallel bars except, above a massage table, and I am no gymnast. The inevitable question is, “you walk on people?” Considering I am not a ninety pound waif, it sometimes causes alarm, especially those who are smaller than me. I quickly tell them that I always have one foot firmly planted on a stool or the table beside them; I am never walking on them. The next question is “so you hang from the bars then? You must be strong!” the answer is no I use the bars for balance, as I mentioned I am not a gymnast (even if I secretly tried out for the Olympics in my back yard swinging from a tree branch when I as a kid).
“Why would anyone want my feet to massage them?” Because it’s the most comfortable way to relieve chronic muscle tension, especially when deep work is requested and effective. The contours of the foot are softer than that of an elbow or any manual technique LMT’s often use when we simply can’t get enough force using our hands. The elongating strokes performed using the foot helps to loosen deeply held patterns of muscle tension, elongating both the muscles as well as the spine. The deeper work, which is always within the clients comfort level (think “it hurts so good”), also helps the body to release toxins from the lymphatic system more dramatically than manual massage, which is a great way to help remove impurities from the body. AOBT also helps to improve posture and movement while relieving pain, improving bodily functions, and creating a state of well-being.
“Who enjoys AOBT?” My typical client that loves this technique has chronic pain in the upper back, between the shoulder blades, and people who experience pain in the hip area. They receive great relief from their symptoms and walk out of the office feeling refreshed. Other people who benefit from this technique are athletes and people who are on their feet for long periods of time. The direction and broadness of the strokes applied to the backs of the thighs create a stretching not attainable through any manual techniques taught to me.
“Can anyone get AOBT?” No, as with anything there are some things people who have certain conditions need to stay away from. Women trying pregnant or trying to get pregnant, TB, blood clots, kidney disorders. People with any acute inflammation, bleeding disorders, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or heart condition including those with a stent/shunt or pacemaker, recent surgeries, conditions in which the bones weaken should not receive AOBT. There are also certain activities you should restrict yourself from after this type of body work just for the day of the service. If you’re not sure ask at the desk when you make your appointment. Your health intake form will ask specific questions pertaining to your health and I will discuss massage options with you.