As most of us grow up we realize that what was totally “normal” in childhood might really be very unique. I was reminded of this recently while making introductions in a massage continuing education class. We were asked to share if we had ever experienced massage done by feet. When I explained that this was something we had done in my family growing up, one of my classmates asked disdainfully “where are you from?”. In retrospect I should’ve said “the same place the Beverly Hillbillies come from”.
Using one’s feet really was a very natural thing in my family, along with massage itself. Your hands get tired, so you sit on the couch and have mom lay on the floor. You work on her aching back with your feet. Really, very simple.
In addition to the fact that feet are a good alternative to tired hands, there is the benefit of better pressure. In fact, I just measured my maximum elbow pressure (55 pounds) and then the pressure of my heel (110 pounds). With gravity alone I can deliver TWICE the pressure! Not to mention the working surface area of my foot is about twice that of my hand. When I discovered there was a class that would teach me to apply my feet in a professional western therapeutic massage setting, I could not wait to take it!
A therapist trained in Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy uses bars attached to the ceiling for support and balance and bare feet instead of hands to do the massage. Similar to Swedish massage, the strokes are long and flowing. Like Deep Tissue, Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy can provide a very deep therapeutic massage.
I can’t think of anything more natural than that.