Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy is a form of Asian massage with roots in the Philippines and India, that—as the word ashiatsu, which means “foot pressure,” indicates—is primarily carried out with bare feet instead of the hands. American Ruthie Hardeehas made adaptations to this ancient form of massage and has established her own training program, which includes a new design of portable bars. The bodywork is performed by applying pressure to specific parts of the body, incorporating elements of traditional Japanese barefoot Shiatsu, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Thai Massage, Indian Keralite foot massage, and forms of Western bodywork such as Deep Tissue Massage and Swedish Massage. The bar refers to bars attached to the ceiling, which the practitioner holds on to for support and balance while standing on the recipient. This allows the practitioners to take advantage of the force of gravity, distribute her weight in a balanced way, and apply varying amounts of pressure in a gentle but effective manner that minimizes any discomfort for the client. The practitioner can also work harder and longer without becoming tired.
Traditionally, the recipient would lie on a floor mat, but these days a massage table is sometimes used. During a session, the practitioner stands on the back side of the client and performs leg strokes and rolls over an extensive area of the body to alleviate any blockages or stress. She uses her body weight, gliding foot compression, and toe action on strategic points along the muscles, as well as using her feet to create a push-pull pumping action that elongates the disc space between the vertebrae on the recipient’s spine. Although this may sound like a rough form of bodywork, an expert practitioner can provide deep relaxation and relief from pain in the back and other areas of the body in a gentle way.