Is Ashiatsu Safe?

I think it is easy to see why massage therapy clients and other health care practitioners may be a little apprehensive about ashiatsu, or barefoot massage. Ashiatsu is becoming increasingly popular, but a majority of the public is still uneducated about the modality.

The first thing most people think, or assume, is that ashiatsu practitioners are “walking” on the backs of their clients. This leads to presumptions that ashiatsu is dangerous.

One foot stays on the table a majority of the time. A practitioner’s full weight is rarely, if ever, on a client. Trained ashiatsu practitioners use overhead bars for extra balance, know the requirement for a low, sturdy massage table and what contraindications to look out for with clients.

The main difference between a Swedish massage and an Ashiatsu massage is that the long flowing strokes to address soft tissue is performed with the feet instead of the hands. Ashiatsu practitioners are trained to skillfully use their feet to assess muscle dysfunction and utilize larger muscle groups and gravity in a highly efficient manner.

Yes, ashiatsu has some risks. No one wants to fall or step on their client. The risk of falls for practitioners is higher than most modalities. Table weight problems are a definite concern. People trained in ashiatsu are trained to take extra precautions to avoid such accidents. In general, using the feet to massage is certainly not dangerous.

Is it more dangerous than:

• Placing warm (potentially) hot rocks on a client?
• Lighting a cone sticking out of your client’s ear on fire?
• Using your elbow to “dig in” near the spine?

When a practitioner has completed training in this modality, adheres to general contraindications of massage, works within their scope of practice, and uses common sense and caution, ashiatsu is as safe as any other massage modality.

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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