What is Ashiatsu Massage?


Ashiatsu massage is a type of massage therapy in which the therapist walks on the client’s back, using bars and other accessories for support to vary pressure and weight.


This modality has its roots in Asia, but today, several different versions of Ashiatsu massage are practiced around the world. Learning to perform the Ashiatsu massage requires advanced training, as an indifferent technique could damage the client’s back.


A therapist walks on a client’s back and uses bars to vary pressure and weight during ashiatsu.


The traditional Ashiatsu massage is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is performed in both China and Japan by professionals who have been trained to take a whole-body wellness approach.

In addition to offering massages to their clients, these professionals can also evaluate diet, prescribe herbs, and use other treatment modalities to address the client’s health concerns.

Getting a massage can release endorphins in the body and help block pain signals to the brain.

In traditional Ashiatsu, the client lies on the floor in loose, comfortable clothing while the practitioner walks on their back, using the feet to target specific pressure points. A support bar may or may not be used, depending on the doctor.

This form is also sometimes called barefoot Shiatsu, referring to the fact that the therapist does not have shoes and that the principles of Shiatsu, a massage technique that focuses on pressure points, are used in massage.

Massages can be done for relaxation or physical therapy purposes.

In the late 1990s, masseuse Ruthie Hardee developed a version of Ashiatsu known as Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy. It uses traditional Asian techniques, but focuses on the use of massage as a relaxation tool, rather than a medical treatment.

While oriental Ashiatsu bar therapy can certainly address muscle pain and tension, the practitioner does not have the training and skills of someone who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Hardee’s version of this style of massage is performed with the client lying on a table, naked and wrapped in a sheet.

The masseuse uses a set of parallel bars on the massage table for support while essentially dancing on the client’s back, combining long, flowing strokes with the feet with faster, lighter strokes. The intensity of the massage can be adapted to the client’s needs.

A distinctive example of Ashiatsu massage for the massage therapist is that it is much less stressful on the body than many other massage techniques.

Many masseurs develop tension by bending over their clients and using their arms for deep work. Ashiatsu massage uses gravity as an aid, and the masseuse uses the whole body as a tool, rather than just the arms. This can reduce work-related injuries for the massage therapist.

If done incorrectly, an ashiatsu massage can damage the patient’s back.

Leave a Comment