Ashiatsu: The Healing Power of Heels

Be Well Bodyworks offers Ashiatsu in Longmont, Colorado

It’s not usually recommended to let someone walk all over you, but after just one session of ashiatsu, you’ll be begging for another heel to the thoracic region.

What is ashiatsu?

Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy is a deep compression massage that looks a bit like a circus act (indeed, the relief our therapists produce are quite magical feats). From the Japanese words ashi (foot) and atsu (pressure), our ashiatsu practitioners use their feet, including their heels, insteps and toes, to massage your back and apply deep pressure to the gluteus, hamstrings and calves.
Ashiatsu is a westernized version of an ancient barefoot massage technique out of Asia; Colorado massage therapist Ruthie Piper Hardee has adapted and popularized the technique over the past 20 years. Hardee’s method also incorporates Swedish techniques with long strokes and lubricants.

“Traditional hand Swedish is the same thing, but we do it with the feet,” she says. “We call it gravity-assisted effleurage. And, because the work is so deep and flowing, we’re able to send a signal to the brain within the first 10 minutes that says ‘I have to surrender, I can’t even fight this!'”
The more well-known technique of shiatsu applies therapeutic pressure to the body through the hands; while also a beneficial method, a therapist is limited as to how much pressure she can deliver. With ashiatsu, the therapist can utilize her entire body weight to produce a deeper massage.

The number one complaint people have with regular massage, Hardee says, “is that the therapist didn’t go deep enough. People are yearning for deep tissue work, and – in ashiatsu – because the therapist is standing straight up, using her center of gravity, and her thigh, knee, and leg are working up the lumbar and the erectors, that’s like six hands duct taped together.”
At Be Well Bodyworks, we count ourselves among a select group of 1,500 therapists nationwide who are certified in this technique. Ashiatsu requires advanced training and is recognized by the American Medical Association and approved by the National Board of Therapeutic Massage.

How can ashiatsu help me?

As you’re probably aware, the benefits of massage are numerous. An ashiatsu session may help:

  • Ease spinal pain, including the lower back, neck and thoracic region
  • Relieve tight ligaments and sore shoulders and hips
  • Soothe chronic pain throughout the body
  • Combat stress and tension
  • Reduce heart rate and blood pressure
  • Release endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers
  • Increase range of motion
  • Induce relaxation

Sounds nice, right? Are you aching to give ashiatsu a try? Make an appointment online, and let us walk your pain out the door.