A Brief History of Ashiatsu Massage

The holidays are upon us, and while for many that means happy music and pretty decorations, for others it means hosting annoying family members and spending lots of money on gifts. It’s safe to say that while the holidays are certainly a fun and uplifting time, they can also be extremely stressful. This holiday season, don’t let your stress get the best of you. Schedule an Ashiatsu massage with Colorado Massage today!

What is Ashiatsu massage?

What exactly is Ashiatsu massage anyway? You may have heard of Shiatsu massage, and many people may hear “Ashiatsu massage” and just assume they heard “a Shiatsu massage.” But in fact, the two are very different. Shiatsu comes from the Japanese words “shi,” or finger, and “atsu,” or pressure — translating roughly to “finger pressure.” Ashiatsu similarly comes from the Japanese word “ashi,” or foot, and “atsu,” for pressure — translating roughly to “foot pressure.” So Ashiatsu is the practice of using one’s feet to apply pressure in a deep tissue massage.

Where did it come from?

Knowing the origins of the word Ahiatsu, you may be thinking that the art of using one’s feet to get more pressure in a deep tissue massage came from Japan, but in fact the earliest historical sightings of this practice are believed to have started in India. The practice of “Chavutti Thirumal,” or foot pressure in the Malayalam language, has been around for over 2,000 years.

This was a practice of massage where the patient would lie on a mat on the ground, and the masseuse would use a rope — or sometimes two ropes — hanging from the ceiling as a way to control how much pressure they would apply with their feet. This practice was often used as a way to help warriors recover from injuries they received in training or in battle. Therefore, the pressure they applied was immense, and was often said not to be a practice for the weak.

From there, this art of using one’s feet to apply pressure to the massage recipient was adopted by cultures all over Asia — Thailand, Japan, China, Korea, etc — and even on some Pacific Islands — Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, etc. Each of these different modalities has unique traits and purposes and each has its own unique benefits and risks.

The Evolution of Modern Barefoot Massage

Although the practice of barefoot massage continued to be adapted by other Eastern cultures, it took a long time before it became a common practice in western countries like America. Many attribute the American evolution of barefoot massage as it is known today to a woman named Ruthie Piper Hardee.

Ruthie spent a large part of her childhood and formative years traveling around Africa and Asia with her parents who were medical missionaries. The first time she saw the practice of barefoot massage was in a market in the Philippines. She also witnessed a similar practice years later in India. It was these experiences, as well as growing up in a family that was always committed to helping others ease their pains, that caused Ruthie to form her own style of barefoot massage that she could share with people here in America.

Through extensive research and plenty of hard work, Ruthie founded her own company called Deep Feet and pioneered her own form of barefoot massage that she trademarked as Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, or Ashiatsu for short. This form of massage uses two fixed bars above the massage table for the masseuse to use as balance support, and also as a way to control exactly how much pressure she applies.

The Benefits of Ashiatsu

There are many reasons to get an Ashiatsu massage but the main benefit is that it is a deep tissue treatment that does not cause unbearable soreness afterwards. Unlike using elbows and fingers to apply pressure — which can feel like poking your skin with sharp tools and can be very painful — Ashiatsu uses the much broader foot to apply similar pressure.

This allows the masseuse to reach the same deep tissue, but without poking into your skin with sharp elbows and fingers that can leave much more bruising and soreness. And because the masseuse is able to use their entire body weight if needed, Ashiatsu provides the deepest massage possible, all without causing pain and soreness to the recipient.

Deep tissue massages are an excellent way to relieve stress and tension built up in your muscles. This allows for a deep relaxation at times when that may not even seem possible. Deep tissue Ashiatsu is one of the best ways to relax your body and help you let go of any lingering pain and soreness in your soft tissues.

So what are you waiting for? If you are feeling stressed, or have tension in your muscles or chronic neck or back pain, schedule an appointment with Colorado Massage today and we can help you find the relief you are looking for.