Ashiatsu massage uses the therapist’s feet to deliver the deepest therapeutic massage available that is still comfortable and relaxing. Ashiatsu translates to ashi=feet atsu=pressure and is an ancient Eastern massage modality that dates back to as early as the 12th century. For thousands of years many cultures, from India to Japan, have practiced massage with feet. The westernized Ashiatsu modality brought to the US in the 1990’s combines techniques from a range of eastern cultures with western medical beliefs and massage practices. Ashiatsu is especially good for releasing chronic pressure in deep, hard to reach muscles and is especially well suited to those who can’t seem to get enough pressure during massages.
Why Ashiatsu massage for runners?
- It reduces chronic tension. Deep tissue massage is beneficial in reducing tension that has been present in the body for a long time; from months to years. Using the feet as the main tool, the therapist can effectively deliver more pressure over a wider surface area than can be done with hands and elbows. The increased surface area allows for deeper pressure, much like how a large diameter foam roller feels different on your muscles than a small diameter roller.
- It’s great for the psoas, glutes, and hips. Those hard to reach muscles that runners put stress on, including the psoas, glutes and hip rotators, are more easily accessed during an Ashiatsu massage. Because these muscles are in sensitive areas it can be difficult or uncomfortable to access them during a hands-on massage session. Using your feet allows for a greater degree of separation between the client and the therapist, and, along with greater pressure over a larger area, allows for easier release of the numerous hip rotator muscles runners overuse.
- It forces you to relax and increases systemic balance. With greater force on muscles comes lesser ability for them to “fight back” during massage. Furthermore, numerous systems in the body are likely to be affected by an Ashiatsu massage, including the somewhat mysterious lymphatic system which produces and stores cells that fight infection and disease and carries waste products away from the tissues back toward the heart. The wide, long strokes in Ashiatsu help circulate lymph throughout its many channels in the body. The lymph system affects a range of things in your body from the regulation of tissue fluid homeostasis (tissue hydration), immune surveillance, and the transportation of fats and other nutrients into plasma.
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