Affectionately coined as “the deepest most luxurious massage on the planet,” Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy allows the massage therapist to use gravity instead of sheer muscle strength. Using cleaned, sanitized and soft feet, she or he is able by using body weight to press, sweep and swirl along muscles to give broad, fluid movements.
Ruthie Hardee, founder of Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy (AOBT), had seen various types of barefoot massage as a child while traveling with her missionary parents. She witnessed different styles of barefoot massage in Manila, Africa and the Indies.
Although many of the roots of Ashiatsu are Eastern (“ashi” means “foot, while “atsu” translates as “pressure”), therapists in the United States use a distinctly different style of barefoot massage. Traditional barefoot shiatsu is done through clothing on a mat. With Chavutti Thirummal, performed in India for over 1000 years, the therapist typically uses a rope tied end to end and glides along the completely undraped client. Other forms of barefoot massage massage require props for balance such as chairs, poles a single bar, bamboo rods and even chains.
Hardee, however, wanted her style of massage to be luxurious and comfortable for both the client as well as the therapist. Hence, the system of parallel wooden bars placed over the massage table. The therapist is able to use the bars overhead for balance while she or he glides gracefully over the client’s lubricated skin.