Ashiatsu massage or Oriental Bar Therapy (AOBT) is a modification of ancient styles of barefoot massage. The founder, Ruthie Hardee, had experienced and seen barefoot massage while traveling as a youth with her missionary parents.
Bare foot massage in its various forms has existed for thousands of years. Techniques are different in many ways, but the overall affect for the client is the same.
Depending upon the country, the bare foot massage is typically done on a floor mat using different amounts of oil (or in Japan, through clothing and no lubricant) with the client’s head turned to the side.
As a massage therapist, Hardee wanted the massage to be luxurious and on a massage table with stable support overhead.
AOBT is the original source of this style of massage in the US.
The client lies comfortably on a massage table, cream is used, and the massage therapist uses overhead parallel wooden bars for balance and support.
Unlike some traditional forms of bare foot massage, the movements are gliding and dance-like, and the client often doesn’t know the difference between the therapist’s hands and feet.
This video clip demonstrates this foot massage therapy:
1. Deep Tissue massage - The client receives the deep tissue work
they need and yet, it’s comfortable because the surface of the heel and
ball of the foot are a broad surface (unlike fingers, thumbs and
2 More pressure - Gravity allows the therapist to easily sink in, providing more pressure with less effort. And because the massage therapist’s body weight is used with bars overhead for support, she or he is able to easily adjust the massage foot pressure on or off the client with very little effort.
3. Helps Chronic back pain - Well documented for the relief of chronic low back pain, AOBT is considered “the deepest, most luxurious massage on the planet!”
4. Deep relaxation - allowing release of tension and stress held in deeper back muscles, for deeper relief
5. Longer muscle relief - because it allows deeper work, it also helps the client be pain-free for a longer period of time
Read more about Ashiatsu at ZamaMassage
This DVD, Oriental Massage: Express Basic Techniques, teaches many types of Asian massage techniques like AOBT, including Oriental Bar Therapy.