I tried it: Ashiatsu



A few weeks ago, I awoke with a wrenching pain radiating through my right shoulder and down the right side of my back. The pain is something that I’m unfortunately used to, as it seems that I tweak my back frequently in the night. I needed some deep tissue work, something that went beyond the traditional Swedish massage with its lulling strokes. And was relieved that I had the foresight to book an Ashiatsu massage at the Hyatt Chesapeake Resort & Spa in Cambridge, Maryland.

Ashiatsu massage, derived from the words “Ashi” meaning foot and “atsu” meaning pressure, is an ancient form of barefoot massage using deep compressions over the body from head to foot. Inspired and invented by Buddhist monks, Ashiatsu, has underlying dynamics in traditional Chinese Medicine. While you lie on a massage table, a therapist utilizes her feet to release toxins and open the chakras. Using her weight she is able to workout kinks that have long been engrained in your body.

Before my treatment began, my therapist wrapped her very soft and strong feet in warm, moist towels infused with lavender essential oil-for cleansing. Overhead bars may be used for the therapist’s balance. My therapist, however, sat on a tall stool in front of me as I lay face down on the table. She began by manipulating my back and shoulders with her feet, working the anguished muscles one knot at a time all the way down my back. She then stood on the table to reach the other parts of my body, using careful but firm strokes, which felt similar to an intense deep tissue massage. There was an instant sense of relief as the pressure, made possible by using her feet and weight of her body, released the tightness and tension in my muscles.

So, while the experience of having an Ashiatsu massage is not necessarily for those who enjoy soft body treatments, it can do wonders for those who prefer deep tissue work or who need relief from uncomfortable and stubborn muscle aggravation such as mine. I walked away with the ability to move my head from side to side, extend my right arm out and sit with little discomfort at my desk, luxuries that I normally would have had to live without had I not experienced the healing power of feet!

Shanon Hoffman

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