03 December 2008

Heeling touch: barefoot massage

I've heard of being massaged with hot stones and even African dumbbells, but being massaged with someone else's feet was something new - even for me.


I've heard of being massaged with hot stones and even African dumbbells, but being massaged with someone else's feet was something new - even for me.

Only a handful of spas in the county offer Ashi-Africa Barefoot Massage. Barefoot massage originally developed in India as part of martial arts training - then the concept was adapted for a Western audience by adding Swedish massage techniques, resulting in a deep, luxurious massage.

Ashi-Africa Barefoot Massage allows the therapist to utilise gravity-assisted pressure using their body weight, while their foot slides over the contours of the body to give a deep tissue massage.

This has advantages for the client, and the masseuse. Over time, giving deep tissue massage with the hand brings pain, fatigue and eventually injury to the therapist. Making use of gravity, body weight and the strength of the legs they can work deep into the muscles, without all the pushing and pressing required when using the hands.

For the client it means that pressure is constantly and evenly maintained, resulting in more circulation. The foot also covers a much larger area than the hands, and can be held for extended periods.

How does it work?
The client lies on a massage bed that is wider than the usual. This enables the therapist to stand and manoeuvre on the bed next to the client. In addition, there are also two beams over the bed which the therapist uses to keep her balance.

Using these 'props' the therapist can hang from the beams and massage with her feet (especially while massaging the back and neck), or stand on the bed with one leg, while holding herself up by her arms and massage other body parts, such as the legs and glutes, with her free foot.

Therapists don't walk over you, nor do they stand on you with their full body weight. She also washes her feet in the therapy room just before the massage to ensure hygienic practices.

The verdict
I was treated to a glorious two-hour Ashi-Africa Barefoot Massage at Carchele Health and Beauty Spa @ The Marine, Hermanus.

Having someone massage you with their feet isn't as awkward as one would think. It does feel different to getting a hand massage, but in a good way. As mentioned above, the sole of the foot is much bigger than the palm of the hand and a much larger area of the body is massaged at one time (therefore increasing the body's circulation). The pressure is more evenly distributed over the area being massaged and the massage is much deeper – although surprisingly tender (in fact, compared to some other deep tissue massages, this one is painless).

And the results were just super. I experienced a powerful detox during and after the massage, I was very relaxed and the best of all is that my usual knot-ridden back was (and still is a week later) wonderfully knot-free.

I would recommend the Ashi-Africa Barefoot Massage to anyone looking for an intense deep tissue massage with powerful benefits to the body and mind.

For more information contact Carchele Health and Beauty Spa @ The Marine Hermanus on 028 313 0909 or send an email to

Read more:
Deep Tissue Massage
Spa roundup

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