Ashiatsu Massage or Fijian Barefoot?

What’s the difference?

That’s a question I get asked a lot. Truth be told, there is a world of difference between Ashiatsu massage and Fijian barefoot techniques. And, to make the comparison even more complicated, there’s actually a third barefoot modality. It is called Barefoot Stretch Massage. So, what’s the difference between them all? Is it a simple either or? Well, let me explain…

What Are The Similarities Between These Techniques?

Ashiatsu Fijian Barefoot Massage Difference

Portable Ashiatsu Floor Bars with Tiffany Diaz

For starters, in all three modalities, the therapists use their feet.  Moreover, each is a form of deep tissue massage, except for Barefoot Stretch. Each gives the client a significant amount of pressure. With these therapeutic approaches, it’s surprising that each, in fact, requires minimal exertion from the therapist. And now the  Portable Ashiatsu Floor Bars are widely available. So, all these modalities are available in-home via mobile massage.

What Are The Differences Between Each Type Of Barefoot Massage?

With Ashiatsu, the strokes are long, broad and compressive. They are much like Myofascial Massage. Similar to a “regular” massage, cream or lotion is applied.  In this case,  the client is undressed and appropriately draped. As well, most techniques feel quite alike, as the therapist’s feet in Ashiatsu essentially feels like a giant hand. As such, the client usually can’t tell the difference between the two approaches.

Fijian Barefoot Massage, on the other hand, uses short, deep movements. And is much more detailed. In comparison, the application is more like Neuromuscular Massage. So, unlike Ashiatsu, the client is fully dressed. And there is no use of lotion. Lastly, rounding out this trio of techniques, the Barefoot Stretch. The modality speaks for itself. Basically, the therapist uses their feet to stretch the client. It’s kind of like Thai, but with westernized stretching methods added to the mix.

How Do They Compare?

Ashiatsu Fijian Barefoot Massage Difference

Michelle Mace demonstrates Fijian Barefoot Massage

However, what’s unique for Fijian Massage is the position of the therapist. Throughout the entire session, the practitioner sits in a chair. Now, I’m sure every massage therapist reading this is thinking, “What’s not to like about that?” As the client lays on a mat or towel, the therapist performs this treatment. It is much like a full neuromuscular massage. And entirely administered with their feet.

So let’s compare Ashiatsu and Barefoot Stretch. What’s notable is that they both use bars or (at least) the back of a chair for balance. And while I don’t want to make this any more confusing, I do feel it’s essential to mention there are three types of Ashiatsu bars. Depending on your set-up and needs, you can use stationary or portable overhead bars.  And then of course there are the  portable floor bars. Here are some images to give you an idea of what I’m explaining.

Which Barefoot Technique Is Better?

In all honesty, it would depend on your needs. Do you have an office or are you a mobile massage therapist? Perhaps, like many others, you do both and require a certain degree of flexibility? Alternatively, do you do indoor/outdoor events or promotions? Once you address your particular requirements, you’ll be able to narrow it down. And then choose the technique that best fits your business needs.

Firstly, to answer the question about the best technique. Let’s consider your current situation. If you’re in an office, how much space can you dedicate to overhead bars? Can your room accommodate the use of a floor routine? If the answer is yes, then Ashiatsu, Fijian, and Barefoot Stretch are equally suitable.But, you say you space is not big enough for such treatments.  Then Ashiatsu is the better choice. At this point, all you have to do is mount stationary bars to the ceiling. And you’re ready to go.

Second, let’s address which modality is best for mobile massage. Actually, all three techniques are excellent for mobile house-calls. With the Portable Ashiatsu Bars for the floor, it is effortless to do Ashiatsu on the go. Whereas Fijian only requires a mat, face cradle and fold up stool… and voila! Get our free download for “How to Go Mobile with Barefoot Massage”.

Third, let’s consider which is best for outdoor events. Again, all three techniques work very well. However, I prefer the Barefoot Stretch and Fijian Massage. It would because I don’t have to deal with draping or lotion. From a marketing perspective, either one you have everyone’s attention at outdoor events. In a pinch, these two massages are ready to apply on the go in any situation.

Lastly, which is better for promotions? When you offer discounts or specials, it is best to choose an easy  massage treatment. In this way, it does not wear out the therapist. Plus, it is a great way to introduce a new service.

Why Do You Need Barefoot Massage?

Before the barefoot massage, I did not know how I was going to maintain my client load. Luckily, soon after that, I discovered a couple of hand-saving methods.   These unique techniques set me free from the worry of not being able to keep up physically. When I started with barefoot modalities, not all of my treatments were barefoot sessions. That is because I also integrated other techniques. However, Barefoot massage started me off in the right direction. And it changed everything. Are experiencing the same situation? Let me assure you, there is an answer.

In conclusion, I can’t choose between Ashiatsu Massage or Fijian Barefoot. Or even Barefoot Stretch, so I do all three. It doesn’t matter if you are a new LMT or veteran of massage therapy. You will find one of these methods is a good fit for your practice. Work smarter, not harder!

Ashiatsu Fijian Barefoot Massage Difference

Michelle Mace NCBTMB CE Provider #403532 which most states except. Along with NY #17, LAP#179 and FL#50-2045

Michelle Mace is CEO and founder of The Barefoot Masters®. She is  a 20-year veteran of massage therapy. So, she knows the needs of massage therapists all too well. She develops all the educational materials and continuing education, which are NCBTMB approved courses. So to ensure the maximum learning experience. Also you can read our featured article on Ashiatsu Floor Massage in Massage Magazine. For more information, go to

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