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  • Julie Marciniak

Can I Use Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage to Treat Pain?

Many massage therapists ask, "Can you treat pain with Barefoot Massage?" The answer is YES! The feet are just as an effective tool as the hands when treating pain. Whether it's a trigger point, myofascial lines, or other soft tissue issues, ashiatsu barefoot massage is extremely effective! If I can learn to Rolf with my feet then what's holding YOU back?


In our Intermediate and Advance Ashiatsu trainings, we teach you more clinical barefoot techniques to give you the confidence you need to address your clients' chronic pain issues. I have a few tips and suggestions for the barefoot massage therapist. These tips that have served me well as a bodyworker over the past 28 years. Even if you use your hands to massage, some of these suggestions may help you!



  1. KNOW your anatomy. Any massage therapist, whether they are using their hands or feet needs to know their anatomy. Be able to palpate and know WHAT you are palpating. Muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, joints, fascia, EVERYTHING. You’ll never learn it all. Heck, after 28 years I still don’t but I’m always curious. Almost every day I'm pulling out anatomy books, diagrams, and looking online.

  2. Learn to treat in 30-minute increments. Learning how to treat neck, shoulder or back pain in 30 minutes will hone your skills and make you a better massage therapist. 30-minute sessions are also beneficial for clients on a budget, with time constraints like being on a lunch break or for clients that need multiple treatments within a week as they are dealing with chronic pain issues and they want to get them resolved as quickly as possible.

  3. You have to be very SPECIFIC about WHAT'S THE GOAL OF THE SESSION and realizing that there's only so much that can be done during the amount of time your client has chosen. This is not a relaxation massage where you try to give the client a full-body massage. And there's no messing around with a bunch of nonsense like:

  • Taking 5 MINUTES to undrape a hip. FOR REAL, I’ve seen students do this and it drives me crazy. Stop messing with the blame sheet. Fold it, pull tight, tuck it and BE DONE!

  • Or taking forever to apply lotion before even stepping up on the table. (I rarely use any lubrication unless I’m cupping, then yeah you gotta use it). Apply it with your feet. Then you don’t have to worry about getting your ashiatsu bars greasy. OR your walls! We have to wipe down the barefoot training studio walls after every class because students would leave handprints all over the walls.

  • What about palpating with the hands before stepping up on the table? NO! That’s what your feet are for! If you are trained in Ashiatsu then our feet need to learn how to do that. 👣 The more you do it, the better you get with your barefoot massage skills. Make the application of lubrication part of your palpation and assessment!

Little things like this eat into your treatment time. All of these things take me 30 seconds and that includes cleansing my feet, and then I’m stepping up onto the table getting to work. Time’s ticking and clients ain’t got time for you fiddling around! For pain relief, cupping is a great adjunct to barefoot massage. Park some cups on the back for a few minutes while you do barefoot massage on the legs, glutes and hip rotators. It's a great 30-minute bodywork session for back pain depending on their issues. And don't forget the neck! Leave 5 -10 minutes ALWAYS for neck work in the supine position. These are just a few tips that have served me well in my bodywork practice. I’ve learned to accomplish quite a bit in a short amount of time.


If you’re interested in a long term career as a bodyworker, check out our Barefoot Massage training at NC Ashiatsu. We provide Fundamentals, Intermediate, Advanced, Range Of Motion, and future one-day Clinical Tracks through the Center for Barefoot Massage. Follow us on Instagram @NCashiatsu or Facebook for helpful tips, class info, and other good stuff!

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