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What is Ashiatsu Massage?

Updated: Apr 9

Ashiatsu is a generic name for a type of barefoot massage where the massage therapist uses their feet to provide deep compression, gliding strokes, and Stretch Therapy. Massage as been around for centuries, but most people think about massage being performed with the hands, not the feet.


What is Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage in Durham NC?

History of Ashiatsu Barefoot massage


Barefoot massage has been traced back thousands of years in many countries and cultures, including India(i.e., Chavutti Thirumal, Marma Kalari), Japan(Shiatsu), Fiji, the Philippines, and the US(Oriental Bar Therapy, Rossiter), to name a few. A few differences between these types of barefoot bodywork are the therapists' support and balance methods: rope(s) or cable(s) suspended from the ceiling or walls, single or multiple bars mounted to the ceiling, bamboo rod/staff, or even chairs.


This technique was generally delivered with the client on the bare floor or a padded mat; some still are. However, westernized Ashiatsu is performed with the client on a massage table. Another difference is that the session may involve therapeutic oils, creme, lotion, or no lubrication if the client remains clothed. You can find much of Ashiatsu's history on Google with little effort.


Barefoot Massage At Bull City Soles


This blog post focuses on explaining what our Ashiatsu looks like here at Bull City Soles in Durham, NC. All of our licensed massage therapists at Bull City Soles have been trained personally by the owner, Julie Marciniak. I'm also an instructor for the Durham Center for Barefoot Massage. I have been doing bodywork with my feet for 19 years and a total of 28 years as a bodyworker! Most massage therapists usually cannot sustain a successful career for that length of time, at least not without hurting their body and being forced to choose a type of massage that may involve some form of indirect massage or energy work. If you are a massage therapist, read our NC Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Training blog post What is Ashiatsu Massage?


Other indirect forms of massage can be beneficial if that's the therapist's and client's bodywork choice. But it should be a modality of choice, and NOT because the therapist's body's limitations are dictating that type of work. We practice Ashiatsu because it saves our bodies, and we can give you the deep pressure you ask for to help treat chronic pain without hurting OUR BODIES.


Providing massage with the feet is very useful and efficient, and it feels incredible!


Most clients don't realize we are using our feet because we're just that good. ;) AND we take care of our feet better than our hands by keeping the nails short and filed and the skin smooth and callous-free.


Before we begin your session, we sanitize our feet before stepping onto the table. Two parallel ashiatsu bars are mounted to the ceiling to help with support and balance. Depending on your body type, we may use one or two feet. The larger the client, the more body weight we can use to deliver the strokes.


An Ashiatsu barefoot massage therapist can safely use their feet on just about anybody, age or size, if they are appropriately trained in techniques, contraindications, and anatomy.


Depending on the client's needs, we may start the session face up(supine) or face down(prone). The back, hips, and legs are prime real estate for the broad and deep strokes with our feet. While you are supine, we may or may not choose to do part of the massage with our feet. We save our hands for the more intricate parts of the body like the face, front of the neck, and abdomen.



Hopefully, you have an understanding of what Ashiatsu is about and what your first experience with Ashiatsu will be like at Bull City Soles. Massage is more than a luxury; it can relieve chronic pain and injury and be vital to maintaining health and wellness. Learn more in our blog, 'Massage & Bodywork for Pain Relief'.


“I absolutely loved my barefoot massage! The ambiance of the entire office space is perfect! Julie and her staff were extremely cordial and knowledgeable. The level of care for their patrons is second to none! I highly recommend!!” Lainey C

Ashiatsu barefoot massage is our primary modality of choice, and once you try it, we're sure it will also be yours! So get on our table and under our highly trained feet for the best massage in Durham, NC, you'll ever have. Call 919-477-9887 to schedule your appointment, or use our convenient 24-hour online scheduling!

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