Walking on back massage, also called ashiatsu massage, is an old massage technique originally performed by monks; today, this technique is becoming increasingly popular in America. This controlled deep tissue massage has many benefits.

A brief History

Beginning in the East, ashiatsu’s history spans several continents and more than 3,000 years. Many different styles of barefoot massage have originated from India, Japan, Thailand, China, and the Philippines; some are practiced on a floor mat, others require balancing props, such as ceiling bars, chairs, bamboo rods, poles, and even ropes and chains.

Nevertheless, when ashiatsu was first started, its followers were more interested in “chi,” or energy, than soothing aching muscles. “Asian bodywork is based on Chinese medicine and an energy body map,” explains Barbra Esher, director of education for the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) and a certified ashiatsu instructor. “We get a lot of education in Western anatomy and physiology, but our main concern is treating the energetic body. And because of that, a huge amount of our education is in those theories — like yin and yang.”

What can clients expect with a walking on back massage session?

If you’ve ever heard of Swedish massage, ashiatsu massage is somewhat like that – only much deeper and more penetrating than that performed by the hands. Because the body work done can be performed at a much deeper level than through traditional hand massage, clients can see benefits much more quickly than they otherwise might.

Gentle and deeply penetrating, the therapist controls the massage by carefully applying pressure with her feet and using controlled centripetal push and centrifugal flow movements, in addition to pumping movements that loosen tight muscles and eventually actually change structures, gradually and beneficially.

Using long, stroking movements, the therapist gently but deeply manipulates the muscles with his or her feet, using his or her body weight in varying degrees to apply gentle, deep, stroking pressure and compression where needed, taking care to focus on tight muscle “clusters” and on specific pressure points through acupoint massage. Deep targeted and gliding movements focus on the body’s meridians much as acupuncture does, only via massage techniques rather than needle placement, and result in permanent, positive changes.

 Does walking on back massage hurt?

Walking on back massage is painless, effective, and very safe as long as the therapist is certified tin ashiatsu techniques. Care is taken at all times to control pressure, adjusting as the client requires it.

 Is the therapist’s full weight applied to the client’s back and spine during the session?

Contrary to popular belief, the therapist does not use her entire body weight to apply pressure to a client’s back and body. Instead, pressure is rigorously controlled so that only the amount of pressure needed is applied, and never directly on the spine or joints.

 How is the walking on back massage done?

During the session, the therapist will use his or her feet to walk gently and slowly up and down the back, with feet placed carefully on either side of the spine. As he or she does so, the feet are used to stroke, push and pull muscles to release tension. Prior to the start of the session, massage oil is applied to the client’s back, to further facilitate the stroking, gliding movements needed. During the session, the therapist will be holding onto a bar positioned above his or her head to remain steady and to support any extra body weight not required for the compression and massage. In addition, the therapist takes special care to protect the joints and spine so that pain and injury do not result. The result is a deep, relaxing massage that is entirely painless and completely beneficial.

 What are the benefits of walking on back massage?

Ashiatsu massage can benefit clients by:

  • Balancing the body’s energies
  • Stimulating the lymphatic system
  • Elongating the spine and improving posture
  • Improving flexibility
  • Relieving stress and pain
  • Encouraging relaxation
  • Loosening the muscles of the back and shoulders
  • Increasing feelings of well-being

A Demo Video of Back Walking Massage