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What Is Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage?

Feb 12, 2008
Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage, Barefoot Sports Massage, Barefoot Compression Massage, Ashiatsu... These are some of the terms describing a modality of bodywork where the therapist uses his feet (usually the heel and sometimes the sesamoid bone) instead of his hands. Direct pressure is applied to muscles to give slow, deep, and thorough compressions. Some of the benefits for the client are as follows:

* Hypertonic muscles soften and lengthen.
* Muscles are cleansed.
* Muscles receive more nutrients.
* Nerves fire faster.
* Muscle lesions heal faster.
* Stretching the muscle fibers increases circulation.
* Range of motion is increased.
* Eliminates trigger points (Increases freedom of movement and range of motion.)
* Brings recipient into parasympathetic dominance.

Reading these benefits, you may have thought to yourself, well those benefits can be imparted to the client by the therapists hands, as well. Why use the feet? Let's look at things from the standpoint of the massage therapist or bodyworker. Below are some of the benefits for him:

* Physical well-being and comfort for therapist
* Ability to apply more pressure than with hands
* Ability to maintain pressure longer than with hands
* Larger contact surface, making deep pressure more tolerable for client
◦ More progress and healing per session
◦ Greater client retention

- Physical Well-Being and Comfort For Therapist -

Any massage therapist will tell you that there is a limit on the number of massages they can perform in a day or week before they risk doing lasting damage to their own body. When the therapist uses the feet instead of the hands, this work limit is increased tremendously. In fact, I find that when I have a full schedule of barefoot appointments I tire psychologically - not physically. In other words, I just get bored and my mind starts to wander after the third or fourth session in a row. But physically, I can keep going all day if I'm performing barefoot bodywork.

- Ability to Apply More Pressure and Maintain Pressure Longer than with Hands -

Obviously, I can also apply deeper pressure using my feet than I can with my hands, not just because of the larger muscles of my legs, but also due to the increased body weight I can utilize. In the type of barefoot work that I do, the therapist has only o◦ne foot on the client, while the other is on the floor. In this way, I can regulate the pressure from very light to extremely deep pressure, with ease, simply by leaning more. It follows then, that not only can I apply very deep pressure, but that I can also maintain even the deepest pressure literally indefinitely. Conversely, using my thumbs or even my forearms, I find that I definitely do have a limit before I begin to experience physical discomfort.

- Larger Contact Surface, Making Deep Pressure More Tolerable for Client -

Another great advantage to the barefoot bodywork is that since the heel is wider than for example, the thumbs, the client can tolerate more pressure and tolerate the pressure longer than he would if the therapist used thumbs. Since the client will tolerate more pressure for a longer amount of time, the healing that can take place is tremendous. As a therapist, I find the barefoot sessions to be the most rewarding because of the fantastic physical progress we make. And of course, the more progress there is in healing, the more apt the client is to tell his friends. And as we all know, word of mouth advertising is always the most effective...

Now that you have a better understanding of what exactly Barefoot Deep Tissue Bodywork is, here's something you can try: Tell people about the modality and tell them that they should try having a session. Pay attention to their reaction. I've found that about 80% or 90% are very reluctant to try it. It sounds like it can't possibly feel good. Most people are absolutely convinced that it will hurt.

In part 2 of this series, I offer advice on how to introduce people to the barefoot bodywork. And in part 3, I address the challenge of making sure clients come back for more of the barefoot work.

Lia's other articles on Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage:

* The First Challenge Facing You as a Practitioner of Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage
* The Second Challenge Facing You as a Practitioner of Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage

Lia's articles on Marketing for Massage Therapists:

* The Number One Most Important Thing To Get Your Massage Practice Up and Running
* Workin' It: How to Make Networking Groups Work For You

An article by Lia on Communication and Couples' Massage:

* The Two Biggest Reasons Couples Don't Give Each Other Massage
About the Author
Lia Suzuki Santa Barbara, CA 805-692-9850 lia@liasuzuki.com http://www.liasuzuki.com
Lia Suzuki is a practicing licensed massage therapist and educator based in Santa Barbara, CA. Her clients range from Olympic athletes to Hollywood celebrities. Read more...
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