Deep tissue walking massage is gaining popularity.
Deep tissue walking massage or Ashiatsu uses the broad flat surface of the feet to apply sustained compression on muscles. It has been around for at least 2000 years throughout Asia, and is rooted in martial arts. Martial artists, who were responsible for the safety of their town guarded medical knowledge. The reason for the secrecy is that an enemy skilled in healing techniques has an advantage over their opponent. Therefore, massage modalities that increase performance and recovery were not shared outside of an inner circle. As a result, massage styles in Asia developed regionally. Walking deep tissue massage is no different. India, Thailand, China, Fiji and Japan all have their own variations. For whatever reason, it is the Japanese word of Ashiatsu that has stuck in the US.
In the United States, Ashiatsu is adapted for modern spa rooms and facilities by installing bars above the table.
Instead of a bodyworker using supports suspended above a mat, bars are installed on the ceiling above a massage table. This saves space and a separate cushioned area of the floor is not needed.
To be able to perform a walking deep tissue massage, a therapist must be able to transfer their body weight off of the client. This avoids applying too much pressure. Supporting themselves with the bars above allows them to literally walk up and down on the body. Another technique is to use the bars above for balance and put one foot on the table and the free foot applies pressure. The bars above their head also allow them to move as needed from one side of the body to the other in a swinging motion, or move in smooth motions from the fingers to the toes. In addition to ceiling support, another prop is a higher than normal chair. By sitting parallel to the table, feet can press on side surfaces such as the rib cage and upper shoulders.
The review: Walking deep tissue massage techniques contain some useful modalities.
Ashiatsu is gaining in popularity for good reason. Compression with the feet has an advantage of power from bodyweight. That kind of pressure is not possible for some therapists to achieve with their hands. So, especially for those of slender build, they are able to achieve the benefits of a strong massage without hurting their hands, arms or shoulders. This is great for the client too, because the increase in force breaks up congested muscle tissue. Clients are more flexible and constricted areas are freed up. It can also be used in combination with handed techniques and is a good “warm up” for deep tissue therapies such as neuromuscular and trigger point work.
Walking massage practitioners may balk at this, but if a client is looking for the ultimately sedating massage experience, ashiatsu is not the best choice. Smooth transitions and fluid movements are essential to induce trancelike relaxation. Simply put, it is physically impossible for a bodyworker to achieve the same fluidity with their feet that they can with their hands. If a profoundly relaxing experience is what you are looking for, stick with the hands, not the feet.
Do you want to see what Ashiatsu looks like? Check out the video on this page. To read about an ashiatsu style massage we found in Rome, click on this link.