Back Walking Massage: Should You Try It?

Another Reminder Of Just How Varied Massage Is!

You know how we have the term “foodie” to describe someone who loves trying different foods? Similarly, we should have a term that describes someone who loves trying different massages! Whatever that term, it would fit my personality perfectly.

Trying out different styles of massage isn’t necessarily about relieving achy muscles, it’s about the experience and how your body reacts to the different strokes!

This is why I love to try different massages every time i’m at a new city. It’s not because my muscles are crying for a massage, it’s more about the experience of trying something new! Some people may find this weird, and that’s okay!

We’re gonna drift off topic here for a bit, but ahh heck…here’s a solid life tip: If you truly enjoy and are passionate about something, you must explore it completely till there’s nothing left!

If travel is your thing, then do that till you’ve seen the world; if food is your thing, try as many different cuisines as you can; if video games are your thing, then play till you drop; if massages are your thing, try them all!

Get the gist? Awesome! Today we’re going to be talking about a slightly bizarre, unconventional massage type. It’s called Ashiatsu massage AKA back walking massage AKA barefoot massage AKA get your stinky feet off my back massage!

This Is Ashiatsu!
This Is Ashiatsu! (_MCF4813 as Smart Object-1 By PhotographyByFredette CC BY 2.0)

 

What In The World Is Ashiatsu Massage Anyways & Where Did It Come From?

Thousands of years ago people used to walk on each others back for therapeutic pain relief. Jokes aside, Ashiatsu is thought to have originated from Central/Eastern Asia (quite possibly India). If you search up “Chavutti Thirumal” you will see that this massage type most resembles the typical barefoot massage we see these days.

“Ashi” stands for foot, and “atsu” stands for pressure (Source: deepfeet.com). The two combined make “foot pressure” or massage of the body using the feet!

The idea behind this massage technique is that the feet can do a lot more when it comes to deep tissue massage than the hands ever can. In a sense, it’s much easier for one to exert/transmit pressure through the feet than through the fingers and hands.

That being said, barefoot massage is probably ideal for someone who suffers from intolerable pain and someone who has tried traditional deep tissue massage and has not experienced any significant relief.

If Traditional Deep Tissue Hasn't Worked, Maybe You should Try Ashiatsu!
If Traditional Deep Tissue Hasn’t Worked, Maybe You Should Try Ashiatsu!

 

Should You Try Ashiatsu (Back Walking) Massage?

Sure, why the heck not!? On a more serious note, Ashiatsu is not going to be everyone’s cuppa tea. It’s important for me to tell you this right off the bat before you unknowingly set yourself up for disappointment. Why is this the case? Think of it this way: not everyone can endure the intensity/pressure of a traditional deep tissue massage done using the hands.

Now imagine the same deal but instead of a therapist using their hands, imagine their feet bearing the entire weight of the body!

All that being said, Ashiatsu is great for:

    • Those who are willing to endure the pressure and intensity. If traditional deep tissue therapy is not intense enough for you, then your next best bet is probably Ashiatsu!
    • Those who are suffering from incredible muscular pain. Deep tissue is great at pain relief, but Ashiatsu will take things to a whole other level!
    • Massage enthusiasts just looking to explore and try new things. This fits my description and it’s probably the same for some of you!

 

A Few Benefits Of Ashiatsu Massage!

Anyone who has ever tried Ashiatsu massage before will tell you how incredible the experience was. You kinda get this recurring theme about how the massage itself felt totally bearable even though it was done at a high intensity. What are some of the benefits of Ashiatsu massage?

    • Helps Relieve Chronic Pain—Because it’s a deep tissue massage, Ashiatsu is great at relieving chronic pain in trouble areas such as the upper/lower back, thighs, calves etc.
    • Incredibly Relaxing—The thought of someone walking on your back sounds far from relaxing! But let me tell you that is totally not the case. If done properly, Ashiatsu can be a real treat!
    • Improves Flexibility & Range Of Motion—This is as a result of really working those muscles by completing kneading, elongating strokes. The end result is improved flexibility!

Generally speaking you would see a lot of the same benefits you would with any other deep tissue therapy. That being said, don’t be fooled into thinking there aren’t any dangers associated with Ashiatsu. That’s a great segue into the next point!

 

A Few Risks Associated With Ashiatsu Massage You Should Know About!

Trying Ashiatsu massage is kinda like trying ghost pepper chicken wings! In the back of your head, you know that you might end up getting burned! Obviously there are significant risks associated with having someone walk on you! Below are some of the more common risks:

#1 Broken Bones!

Yup this one’s pretty intuitive! One human being walking atop of another might result in fractured or broken bones. It’s obviously a huge risk, and one that needs to be carefully considered before one decides to experience Ashiatsu massage.

If it were me, what i’d be looking for here is to see if the establishment (or therapist) has the necessary expertise when it comes to performing Ashiatsu. Are they licensed? What kind of reviews have they received over the last 6 months? These are the questions you should be asking!

Broken Bones Ashiatsu Risk

#2 It Could Damage The Spine!

This just keeps getting worse and worse huh!? Another risk associated with improperly done Ashiatsu massage is damage to the spine. To what extent? It’s hard to speculate as to how badly the spine could be damaged, but really any damage to the spine is a pretty bad scenario to be in.

Again, this is another thing you can avoid if you do your homework and pick a reputable establishment with therapists who are trained in the art of Ashiatsu massage!

Damaged Spine Ashiatsu Risk

#3 Muscle Tears Are Also A Concern!

If the therapist exerts too much pressure, or doesn’t know how to properly increase/decrease pressure intensity in the foot, the patient risks suffering a muscle tear. Muscle tears are not as concerning as a damaged spine or broken bones.

 

If You Do Your Homework….

A lot of people will tell you your crazy for wanting to try Ashiatsu. Well, to those people I say…..if Ashiastsu was as dangerous as it’s made out to be, it wouldn’t have continued to thrive all these years. Secondly, therapists wouldn’t be allowed to do it even today if it were as dangerous as it’s made to be.

That’s not to say, there aren’t any inherent risks. As we’ve seen above, there are a few you need to be aware of!

So what should you do? Well, if it were me I would do my homework! In other words, I’d pay close attention to the establishment:

    • Are they reputable and how long have they been open?
    • Are the therapists trained to perform Ashiatsu?
    • Call and speak to them to ask about the massage and if it’s recommended for you. Ask about the risks and what measures they have in place to mitigate the risks.
    • Lastly, check out the reviews and see what others have to say about the place before you make an appointment.

And the last piece of advice which is the most important……always check with your physician before commencing any massage regimen!

This becomes especially important if you wish to consider unconventional massage options such as Ashiatsu!

And that’s a wrap folks! I hope you enjoyed getting walked on, oops I meant to say I hope you enjoyed reading this post! If you have any questions, please please please do not hesitate to drop me a comment below. Even if I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my very best to find it!

About Eve

Just an average bloke intrigued by massage and its incredible benefits. Oh, did I mention I also own a massage chair? More on that in the blog posts!

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