As a long time bodyworker I am always looking for new massage techniques, different ways to use my hands and deepen my understanding of the body, to help ease people’s pain and tension. Near the beginning of my bodywork career I had learned a Barefoot Shiatsu massage, done on the floor with the client clothed, and found it to be fascinating.
However it was lost amidst all the other massage modalities I was learning, and my interests, as well as my career in the spa world, veered toward a specialization in deep tissue, Swedish Esalen massage and other types of oriental bodywork.
Fast forward many years later and thousands of deep tissue massages, and I could start to feel the wear on my wrists and shoulders. I was worried that doing the work I love was no longer sustainable, and I knew that I needed to find a different way to address the deep tension that I kept seeing, in person after person. And then I was re-introduced to barefoot massage, and a whole new world opened up for me. This time I studied a Barefoot Masters™ massage, which is done with oil or cream, much like a Swedish or deep tissue massage, and on a massage table. Sturdy bars erected on the ceiling serve to help the therapist navigate around the table, and a solid table at the client’s head enables some seated massage to also be done, still using the feet. I was like a beginner again, fumbling through to learn how to use this tool that had been, literally, under me the whole time. I had to scrub and polish and take care of my feet like never before, and I had to learn how to use my body in a whole new way, engaging myself from head to toe. Like learning to dance it felt awkward at first, but with each practice session I found myself falling into rhythm and finding the flow, training my feet how to move with grace and ease.
Today I received a barefoot massage from one of the students I just taught, and it was like receiving that dance, with strong pressure and grace of presence, and feeling it change my body, melting and reshaping. When I laid down on the table at the start of the barefoot massage, my body felt hard and tight, full of stress and areas of mild pain. Afterward, as I drove home, I realized all that tension was gone, melted away, and I felt an ease of being that made me smile in deep gratitude. And if I hadn’t known she was using her feet, I never would have noticed, I was too busy feeling utterly relaxed by the slow, broad deep pressure being applied.
I am beyond ecstatic that Osmosis Day Spa, my beloved work home, will be able to offer this transformative type of bodywork starting December 2022. We have taken the best of the Barefoot Masters™ work, Barefoot Shiatsu, Esalen influenced Swedish massage, and our own innovation to create an Osmosis Barefoot Massage. It might sound strange, to be massaged by feet, but I can promise you, it will blow your mind.
Because a foot offers a broad, wide surface to distribute the weight of the practitioner’s body, the Osmosis Barefoot Massage is able to offer a highly effective deep massage that does not feel pokey or bony or painful. Moving slowly, the practitioner’s foot is able to broaden and smooth out knots in the myofascial tissue while simultaneously creating deep relaxation for the nervous system. Using the full weight of their body, and with the help of overhead bars to adjust pressure, practitioners are able to give as much pressure as anyone could want, but also go lightly if needed.
You might think – “Well that sounds great on my back, or maybe my legs, but what about my arms and hands, or neck?” Believe it or not, our barefoot massage has got those areas covered too! Using the ball of the foot, or even skillful toes, practitioners can give the best forearm massage you’ve ever had (I’m not kidding), loosen the neck and even take care of your foot tension. It really is almost too good to be true, but I promise you it is. And today, I was the lucky recipient!
One could also ask – “But aren’t the feet dirty?” Yes, but we have figured that out as well. Using freshly cleaned sandals, our barefoot practitioner will wash their feet with soap and water while you get on the table, and their feet will not touch the ground again until they finish the massage, protected in their sandals. We also keep disinfecting wipes and warm towels on hand, just in case. Our therapists have been trained to safely and effectively perform this massage, taking every precaution to ensure your comfort.
Clearly, the only question left to ask is – “When can I get an Osmosis Barefoot Massage?” As soon as you can book one! We can’t wait to see you in the treatment room.
Written December 2022, by Heather Bishop, Spa Services Manager at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary