Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ahhhhh Massage!

Ashiatsu is a type of bodywork where the massage therapist (MT) uses his or her feet to apply pressure to the body of the individual getting a massage. The word “ashi” in Japanese means pressure and “atsu” means foot. This massage can be performed over loose clothing or on bare skin. The MT holds onto bars overhead to assist in balance and allow him or her to use more or less pressure as necessary for the massage. Why am I telling you about Ashiatsu? Because I just had a 90 minute session with my business partner, Lisa Diemer and I am in heaven!

This is supposed to be my toughest week of training. I am supposed to have a recovery run, a speed drill, a tempo run, followed by 22 miles on Sunday. On top of that, there’s cross training to do. I went a wee bit crazy with the cross training on Monday because I had the time and was feeling good. Let me tell you how I was certainly feeling those 100 squats, 100 jump lunges, 100 dead lifts, 154 burpees, 100 sit ups, 200 oblique crunches. Two thoughts swirled through my mind all day: “Kathy, you’re stupid.” And “I need a 4 hour massage.” I posted that last comment on Facebook and Lisa suggested an Ashi massage, so we booked it for this morning.

You would think that massage therapists get massages all of the time. We should. We know other MTs, so it’s not hard to find one. We can pay for the massage, or we can do an exchange. It really should not be too hard to get one. However, most MTs I know are givers. We are always taking care of others and putting ourselves last. We know we should take better care of ourselves, yet we just don’t when it comes to massages. I have been getting massages here and there when something really aches. I put myself down in the appointment book or entice a fellow MT (not from our practice) to do an exchange. However, many of those massages have been spot specific. That’s not to say they are not good. Trust me, each one has been excellent and extremely helpful to my training and mental state. I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing LMTs who are talented and knowledgeable.

Lisa’s massage today was FABULOUS! I know that it’s a form of deep tissue and it feels good, but I am embarrassed to say that I never thought of it as part of a sport training program. Lisa knew where I was sore and kept that in mind as she began. I tried to shake all thoughts and assumptions from my brain as she began with my back. During the first 20 minutes, all I could think of was, “damn, that’s a lot of pressure. I don’t think I could give that much with just my hands. I need to take an Ashi class, this is AMAZING! Wait, we don’t have room for more ceiling bars. But this feels so good. Yup, that spot is bad….” My brain just would not shut off and then she hit my glutes. YOWZER! I know they have taking a beating from all this training, but I never thought they were THAT bad. She wasn’t using that much pressure and I wanted to cry. I started thinking of all training I have had in myofacial release, neuromuscular therapy, and sports. I began analyzing what I needed to do and have done, but then I realized that I am getting a massage at that very moment and I need to shut off the brain and enjoy, so I focused my attention to breathing. 

Lisa continued to work her magic. (She’s well trained, so it’s not really magic, but it feels like it.) She pinned and stretched, pressed and lengthened muscles all with her feet. I can’t go into details of the session really because the oxytocin was flowing and I was doing my best not to drool on the table. Everything about this massage reminded me of why I chose to become a massage therapist over a decade ago. Sometimes we need those reminders. When she was done I did not want to get up. I felt like I was floating somewhere far and peaceful. At last I rolled off the massage table. I needed to get up and move because I had a client coming in. Part of me was expecting to still feel stiff and sore, but to my delight I felt whole again….and ready to run these 22 miles on Sunday. So thank you Lisa!

My recommendation EVERYONE: if you have never had a massage, get one. If you’re experienced in massage, find someone trained in Ashiatsu. If you’re not sure about having someone’s feet on you, find another modality to try. That goes for you athletes too. Just because it does not have a medical, therapeutic, or sports type of name to it does not mean it is not for you. Step out of your comfort zone and open your mind. I know it’s hard sometimes, but it’s usually worth it. 

26 Days until Boston! Please help me with my fundraiser: Massage Therapy Foundation's "Running for Research"  THANK YOU! - Kathy from Jersey


  1. Awesome!!! So glad you got to feel Ashiatsu, and from such a great therapist and friend, too! Sometimes I get the feeling that once someone receives an Ashiatsu, it's a little hard to go back to the more "usual" deep tissue style of massage, you've been spoiled! If you or your readers are ever looking for a Certified Ashiatsu therapist, they are listed here: Good luck on your Marathon!!!!!!!

  2. Beautiful! Best of luck to you on race day!