Ashiatsu Contraindications: When it’s not such a hot idea to get a Barefoot Massage

Ashiatsu Contraindications: Updated as of 6/2/2015 & again on 4/6/2019

(First off: if you are considering receiving a barefoot massage, ashiatsu, or thai bodywork session, make sure that the provider is a trained professional. I recommend Licensed Massage Therapists trained at The Center for Barefoot Massage.)

It’s finally summer time in hot, hot Texas: but when is it not such a hot idea to get an Barefoot Massage?

Ashiatsu contraindcations

When you first visit Heeling Sole (the nations 1st multi-therapist “solely” Barefoot Massage specialty clinic) for a Deep Tissue Massage, we’ll be scanning your paperwork and health history for possible Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage contraindications. A “contraindication”, by the way, is a clinical term for a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain treatment – in our case, Ashiatsu Deep Tissue Massage Therapy. Most new clients breeze through filling out their Health Intake forms just before an appointment, because at first glance to them, it doesn’t really seem to apply to a massage, and the form is eating up precious minutes out of their session… Many times clients think their issues are nothing of our concern because we are just here to relax you. WRONG!  A secondary effect of our massages could be relaxation, but we mainly offer some pretty serious therapeutic injury treatment work. Ashiatsu and barefoot massage are much MUCH different than any massage provided by hands, and there are many health concerns that we need to know about prior to using our feet and body weight to massage you. We are usually skeptical when your health history looks perfect, so lets dive into what we need to look out for to keep your massage safe:

Ashiatsu contraindications (AKA, Ashiatsu is not the answer for you)

  • If you are supposed to have surgery for something but you are avoiding it: don’t expect a person walking on your back to fix the problem! This work is preventative, not a fix. Modern medicine exists for a reason, consult your doctor.
  • If you have a disc that is herniated past stage 2. We need to know your ACTUAL real diagnosis that an actual doctor (not Web MD or Wikipedia) gave you. Is it Prolapsed, Extruded or Sequestrated? Go find out first before getting under our feet.
  • If you are a woman that is pregnant or trying to get pregnant – we can’t step on bodies that are brewing babies. Lets wait 6 weeks post-partum, and if you had a C-section, let us know. We might need to wait a little longer depending on the strength of your core.
  • If you’ve had augmentation within nine months (Implants such as breast, pectoral, bicep, gluteal, calf etc) Your protective scar tissue needs time to heal to hold the new bits in place. Even after those 9 months, we can’t step on your implants, so if you get glute or calf enhancements, you aren’t going to get a glute or calf massage from our feet, sorry.
  • If you’ve had recent eye procedures/Lasik surgery within 72 hours – the traction could aggravate any irritation on the optical nerve – which could lead to complications.
  • If you have a history of Tuberculosis – even if you are under treatment – no massage therapy.
  • If you are susceptible to Deep Vein Thrombosis, aneurysm, vericosities, hemophelia, excessive blood clotting. We could potentially move a clot or damage vulnerable veins that are weak. No Bueno.
  • If you are currently going through radiation or chemical therapy treatments. This is too aggressive for your body – you need rest and time to heal, go look up an Oncology Massage Specialist.
  • If you’ve had any knee, hip, spine, shoulder, or joint surgeries within 6 months: there is always a scare of blood clots after surgery – plus, I bet you are supposed to be in Physical Therapy, aren’t you? Go see your PT.
  • If you are supposed to be in Physical Therapy for treatment – I said it before and I’ll say it again: finish your prescribed PT first, then consider us. Have your PT or OT contact us so that we can get their release and set up a treatment plan that is complimentary to their goals for you. Need a great PT? Check out Nydia Darby.
  • If you have phlebitis or cellulitis, MRSA
  • If you have kidney issues like stones, infections, ESPECIALLY if you are on dialysis… Got kidney issues? No Ashiatsu massage for you. Did you know the kidneys are your bodies filtration system? If there is a back up in your kidneys and we overload it during this massage, your current issues are going to be magnified.
  • Any Autoimmune Disorders (such as lupus, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, etc) or Lyme disease and even Tuberculosis
  • If you are currently taking any blood thinners, pain killers, or muscle relaxants: DO NOT take them w/i 24 hours (preferably 36 hours) before your appointment.
  • If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart condition that increased heart rate and increased circulation could aggravate. Yes, we actually do spike your blood pressure and increase your heart rate within every massage. We also drop those numbers, as you might expect. Fluctuations in your circulatory system are to be expected during our massages, and we need your body to be ready to handle that.
  • If you have a pacemaker, stint or shunt
  • If you have a history of congestive heart failure.
  • If you’ve had a rib or any bone fracture/break within 6 months
  • If you have Osteoporosis
  • If you have spondylolithesis or any SPONDY-related diagnosis, we need to know. We may or may not be able to work on that area depending on the stage of your condition. Get a doctors note.
  • If you have Guillian-Barre’ Syndrome, any neuropathy, any diabetic stage that includes numbness in your extremities, as well as any neurological disorder that causes loss of sensation or muscle weakness. If you can’t feel it or control it, we ain’t gonna step on it.
  • If you have been on a plane flight longer than 6 hours within the last 24 hours prior to your massage appointment. Jeni might make you walk around the block before you get on the table, so make sure you are a mover, not a couch potato, and just don’t come to us right after long flights. (Potential blood clot scares, muscle spasm possibilities, etc.)
  • If you are sick. (If I get sick, then I have to reschedule everyone!)
  • If you don’t like deep pressure during your massages: We offer DEEP tissue massages, and if you don’t like it deep, it makes the session impossibly hard for us to hold up our entire body weight the whole time.
  • If you weigh less than 140 pounds (Please make sure that you weigh at least 140 pounds if you expect to receive an Ashiatsu session- otherwise you are probably going to receive more Range of Motion, Stretch Therapy and Thai moves, which are great for your range of motion, mobility/flexibility, and posture for pain relief.) Again, we don’t’ want to do a 60 minute long pull up to hold our weight up off of you during Ashiatsu sessions because your frame is smaller than our own. This work isn’t for everyone, and our feet don’t always fit on petite frames (they don’t call us Sasquatches for nothing!) The bigger your muscles and your structure, then better.
  • If you are under 18 years old. We do not work on children – this style of massage is too specialized to be a novelty for your kids to try.
  • If you’ve had a Botox, saline, nerve block, epidural, corticosteroid, even birth control shot within the last 6 weeks. Even if you’ve had a trigger point injection – 6 weeks out.
  • If you are experiencing edema: pitted edema, pulmonary edema, cirrhosis, anasarca, hydrocephalus: massage is not what you need.

The following situations do weigh heavily on your massage. Although we may not need to reschedule your appointment completely based off of any of these, it will definitely shape the plan of action I take during your session, and I need to know about “stuff”.

Please be sure to let me know when scheduling your appointment if any of the following applies to you.

  • If you have any extra hardware installed (IUD, joint replacements, fusions, rods, plates, screws, alien probes, etc)
  • If you are diabetic, hypoglycemic or a hemophiliac
  • If you have been diagnosed with any stage of a herniated/bulging/slipped disc
  • If you have spinal stenosis, spondylitus, spondylosis (Any “spondy”!)
  • If you’ve had any recent injuries (Dislocations, sprains, strains, bumps, bruises, whiplash, etc)
  • If you’ve had recent injections of substances at joint or muscle junctures (Botox, saline, nerve block, epidural, corticosteroid, even birth control.)
  • If you have had any kind of surgery ever – depending on the situation and how long it’s been, I may need a doctors approval, I may prefer that you finish your Physical/Occupational Therapy series prior to your session with me, or we may be just fine.
  • If you are experiencing: If you have been diagnosed with Osteopenia (early stage of Osteoporosis)
    • Heavy menstrual cramping or abnormal flow cycle
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    • Low grade fever
    • Acute intense pain that does not subside
    • Numbness or tingling in any area.

Now that I’ve probably scared you: don’t worry about it, just be honest and let us know BEFORE your appointment starts, and keep the feedback going during the session so that we can have an instant-replay form of communication to make sure our pressure is on point, safe and tolerable for your needs. Ashiatsu Contraindications are defined to help protect you while on the massage table. Please have a safe summer and just have fun!

Heeling Sole Barefoot Massage –

6 thoughts on “Ashiatsu Contraindications: When it’s not such a hot idea to get a Barefoot Massage

  1. Thanks Kerrussell. I think it’s important for the public and other massage therapists to understand the cautions to take into consideration for this more aggressive and deeper than deep pressured massage before anyone decides to either get underneath a pair of feet – or worse, before anyone who is not specifically trained in barefoot massage techniques attempts to use their untrained feet to massage. Barefoot Massage is a ~whole~ different ball game for both the therapist and client.Ashiatsu is very effective for reducing and managing chronic pain, for assisting in muscle recovery for athletes, and for creating a structural change in soft tissue damage. As a therapist, just knowing that my clients may or may not have the issues listed above is immensely helpful know if this massage is appropriate for them, and from my Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, Ashi-Thai, Barefoot Sports, and Fijian barefoot massage training, I can know how to work with, around, or not at all, with those specific issues. If you ever are interested in learning an advanced massage technique that is shiatsu, trigger point, deep tissue, MFR, thai, swedish, and hundreds of years of barefoot massage culture all wrapped into one nice little westernized massage, check out Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy. I teach it in Texas, but our team of instructors span the nation. (

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