What is Ashiatsu Bar Therapy?

What is Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage?

man laying face down receives ashiatsu barefoot massage in Haleiwa, Hawaii
I have to admit...  when I first heard about Ashiatsu Bar Therapy (AOBT), I found it interesting, but I was certain that it was some kind of massage gimmick created for therapists who were not strong enough to give firm pressure. Because of my misconceptions, I put off learning this amazing technique for years!  One day, I finally gave in to curiosity and booked a full-body barefoot massage session with local therapist, Abby Parker. It ended up being one of the most fabulous massage experiences of my life! I immediately enrolled in Ruthie Hardie's Deep Feet Bar Therapy (AOBT) massage course.  If you have ever wondered about ashiatsu massage, then read the rest of this post to find out more.

The history of barefoot massage

Ashiatsu Bar Therapy is actually not Ashiatsu at all.  Traditionally, the term Ashiatsu is Japanese for "foot pressure" and refers to a style of massage where the therapist uses static pressure to work on the various points that follow the meridians and energetic flow of the body.  This is similar to shiatsu or acupressure massage.  Other styles of barefoot massage can be found in Hawai'i, Thailand, China, and the Philippines.  However, American Ashiatsu is actually based on Chavutti Thirummal which is an ancient massage technique from India.  The founder of AOBT, Ruthie Hardee, spent many years studying the art of barefoot massage and was inspired to create a therapeutic barefoot massage technique for professionals.  Her rigorous curriculum has become the gold medal standard in the field of modern barefoot massage. American Ashiatsu massage is now a popular technique that is taught by many instructors outside of the original founder's training program. There are slight variations between each therapist's barefoot massage techniques.

The Ashiatsu Controversy

American Ashiatsu was once called Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy (AOBT). Because of the public outcry for a more politically correct term, it is now referred to as Ashiatsu Bar Therapy or simply just Ashiatsu. Some therapists have recognized the confusion in labeling a traditional Indian-based oil massage with the Japanese word "Ashiatsu" and are now using the term barefoot massage. Even Ruthie Hardie's Deep Feet Program has changed its logo to DeepFeet Bar Therapy instead of using the word "oriental." There may be many names for it, but there is no mistaking this one-of-a-kind massage modality!

What to expect in an Ashiatsu session

The Ashiatsu Barefoot massage style utilizes the therapist's feet to deliver very firm broad strokes in order to elongate the tissues of the client's body.  During a traditional hands-on deep tissue treatment, pressure is usually concentrated over a small area with the use of the therapist's forearms and elbows. This can be too painful for some clients.  Ashiatsu barefoot massage allows the client to experience a deep full body massage without any pain or discomfort.  It is also a favorite of many professional endurance athletes who need more pressure than the average client in order to effectively work through denser connective tissue and muscle mass.

Where to book an ashiatsu massage

If you are on the North Shore of Oahu, contact Abby Parker, owner of North Shore Ashiatsu and Massage in Haleiwa. You can also try DeepFeet's referral site at https://www.deepfeet.com/find-a-therapist/.