Ashiatsu Training for International Massage Therapists

I am fairly certain barefoot massage has been around as long as traditional massage. Massage clients likely have always wanted more pressure and practitioners have always been looking ways to alleviate the physical strain the job places on the hands and wrists.

In the last twenty years, barefoot has grown dramatically in popularity. Modern twists and adaptations have been make to this ancient modality. One of the most popular forms of barefoot massage, ashiatsu, is a favorite among massage professionals and their clients here in the United States.

The popularity of ashiatsu is spreading. Some of the most frequent massage professionals to take my online ashiatsu course reside in Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

If you are a massage professional outside the US, and want to learn more about ashiatsu, you have likely found that finding live ashiatsu courses in your area can be extremely difficult.

Today I want to answer some questions about ashiatsu, specifically for non-US based massage colleagues desiring to complete an online ashiatsu training course and integrate the modality into their massage business.

The Basics

What is ashiatsu?

Quite simply, ashiatsu is a massage modality where the message practitioner uses their feet in lieu of their hands. This differs from barefoot massage in other countries.

Barefoot Thai

Thai massage practitioners often use their feet for pressure, but in traditional Thai massage the client remains clothed and lies on a floor mat. Learn more about Barefoot Thai.

Chavutti Thirumal

Chavutti Thirumal, an Indian form of barefoot massage, also has a client on a floor mat, with minimal draping. The practitioner typically uses a suspended rope for balance.

Barefoot Shiatsu

Barefoot shiatsu is an extension of shiatsu and lacks the long flowing strokes of Swedish and western massage modalities.

There also is different styles barefoot massage for sporting events or the office.

How are the above different than ashiatsu?

Ashiatsu feels like a western or Swedish massage with long, flowing strokes. It most sessions clients to relax on traditional massage table as opposed to a floor mat seen in Eastern barefoot techniques.

The practitioner’s feet and body weight reduce stress on the practitioner’s hands and wrists. That’s what makes this modality so appealing to therapists. Balance is maintained by using bars suspended above the therapist’s head.

Although ashiatsu can be adapted for Thai and shiatsu mats, typically a standard massage table is used. There are no meridians or energy techniques to learn and ashiatsu, as this truly is a Western modality. It still can be adapted to meet your clients’ needs, whether sports-related or in a spa. With ashiatsu, you can focus on soft tissue dysfunction and provide a relaxing massage experience.

The Benefits of Home study

The internet has removed obstacles, the need to travel, and the inconvenience to busy schedules. Students are not restricted by the traditional education environment. For some massage professionals, a home study course is a preferred way to learn. You’ll learn on your own time, according to your schedule. Unlike the rushed pace of a live course, you can take the needed time to watch, rewatch and practice specific strokes before you apply them to your clients.

I offer one introductory course for self-directed learners to expand their knowledge and enhance their professional development in the massage industry, regardless of location.

Introduction to Ashiatsu

This 6 hour course allows you to learn a seated routine for the upper back and the basics of barefoot massage. This introduction into the subject is an excellent way to relieve apprehension for those nervous about their ability to learn a new technique in a home study format.

The seated routine can be easily incorporated into your back massage routine to introduce your clients to the benefits and feeling of barefoot massage. The only item needed for this course is a stool or chair that is the same height as your massage table.

Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage

This 16 hour course includes complete instructions for the seated and full posterior routines. Topics include the history of barefoot massage, foot preparation, marketing tips, bar installation and step by step (literally) video and written instructions on how to use your feet to deliver an incredible massage experience.

At the same time, you will experience how barefoot massage can alleviate the common physical strains of hands-on massage. It is a win-win for you and your clients.

Installing Bars in Your Office

One of the biggest concerns most new ashiatsu practitioners is the installation of ashiatsu ceiling bars.

The 16 hour course will help you determine what is best for you and your office situation, as well as suggestions for lumbar materials. Most supplies can be found at local hardware, home improvement (building supply) stores or on Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, fastener or boat supply stores.

How does the the online class work?

After purchase, the course material (ebook, videos, and exam) are immediately available and can be completed at your convenience on your computer or internet device. Our credit card processor can accept international payments any time of day.

A final exam is provided at the end of the course. It is not timed and course materials may be used while taking it. A successful passing score of 80% or better on the final exam will allow you to print your own certificate of completion for your records and can be used for proof of completion to massage associations.

Who can take this course?

Massage therapy It is my current understanding that massage therapy is not regulated, or is self regulated, in these countries:

  • England
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Ireland
  • France
  • most Canadian Provinces

This course is open to practicing massage professionals that have training in anatomy and physiology, as well as an understanding of contraindications of massage. This includes shiatsu practitioners and other complementary health care providers that can legally and ethically practice massage.

Many of my international students are practitioners that have completed a diploma program that meets ITEC’s Level 3 (or above) qualifications. Many others are registered or remedial massage professionals working in the complementary health care or beauty fields.

Professional Development and Education

If you need hours to complete for voluntary registrations or local massage therapy associations, please contact me I can answer any questions about your Continued Professional Development or Continued Professional Education requirements.

Professional Insurance

Ashiatsu is a modality covered by all major massage professional liability companies in the United States. Check with your professional insurance to verify coverage of barefoot, or gravity assisted massage.

If you have questions about our scope of practice, I have provided contacts to several government regulatory boards and professional massage associations:


Regulated Provinces

British Columbia
New Brunswick
Newfoundland/ Labrador

Provinces where massage is not regulated

Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Northwest Territories


New Zealand


If you want to know more about the course or are ready to get started, visit here.

About Ivy

Thank you for reading this post! In addition to writing here at, I write about more general massage topics at Massage & Bloggywork, as well as teach massage continuing education at Advanced Massage Techniques.


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  1. Hi. When do you come to Australia???

  2. Patricia scoles scoles says

    Hi! Is there not an anterior routine?? Thx! Looking to shift to ashiatsu.

  3. Just thinking out loud Ivy … I have never had Ashiatsu before. If a person is overweight can they still learn your techniques? I have a massage friend who has been having problems with her forearms doing too many massages over the years. She still needs to work BUT I don’t know how much longer her arms will hold up. I told her about Thai massage to learn to take the pressure of her hands and arms. What do you think?

    • An overweight person can learn ashiatsu. Strength has a lot to do with it for the practitioner. Learning how to apply the right pressure and keeping your full weight off the client. If a table is unsafe for them to stand on, they should consider the seated routine, floor mats, or a shiatsu table.



  5. I live in Switzerland and I am
    A lomi lomi Masssge therapist
    Where can I learn Ashiatsu
    I really feel so connected to this praxis
    Please let me know
    Thank you
    E mail.

  6. Amparo araneta says

    Hello Ivy Im in Ontario Canada and have done relaxation massages with my esthetics facials Nails. But my arms have given up on me and would love to do Ashiatsu. And I’m half Philippines and Japanese. Funny being Japanese I should qualify as is haha

    I would like to know if I would be able to use your certificate and recognition in Ontario Canada?

    Thank yoh

    • I am not sure what the CE requirements are for Canada. I did have it approved for one province for someone, but that has since expired. It is too much to have them approved by multiple provinces, unfortunately.

  7. Nicole Pilon says

    Hello Ivy! I am currently in school to become an LMT in New Jersey. Part of my course is to write a research paper on a modality of our choosing. I chose ashiatsu! I’m so glad I found your website in my research.
    I have just a quick question about your course. Can I take your course before I get my state licensing? Or do I have to be a licensed MT to take it?

    Thank you for your passion for ashiatsu. This website is amazing.
    -Nicole SMT

    • You can start a course or area of interest before you graduate. I highly recommend pursuing those interests ahead of time. I wished I had. Best wishes!

  8. Joanne Chiang says


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