Barefoot massages are massages that are given with the feet only, that is, the hands, arms and knees are not used to apply the actual massage. Nevertheless, the hands may be used also as part of the treatment, but only to pull or support body parts of the receiver, for instance, to deepen a stretch or to position a receiver while pressing with the feet.
Treatments where the practitioner uses the feet are thought to have a more “earthy” quality than the ones done with the hands or other parts of the body. In general, more pressure can be applied also. Typically, these types of massages are given with the receiver lying on the floor (on a mat or mattress) or lying on a large over-sized massage table or bed.
Apart from being able to give more pressure, using the feet to give massages avoids (repetitive) strains for the hands and wrists of the masseur making his or her work easier, healthier and more balanced.
Sometimes practitioners use a stick, rod or rope to keep their balance while “walking over the patient,” the latter being the reason why barefoot massages are sometimes also called “Walking Massages.” Generally, the therapist keeps one foot on the floor while using the other foot to apply the massage, alternating his or her left and right foot.
Barefoot massages are quite common in Asia, and in some regions healers only use barefoot techniques to give massage. Nevertheless, barefoot massages are not something extraordinary, because many traditional massages are given by using all parts of the practitioner’s body. In that sense, Barefoot Massage techniques may simply be part of a common massage routine, applied when the therapist thinks that it’s more beneficial for the receiver.
Well-known Barefoot Massage modalities in Asia are Japanese Ashiatsu Massage, Thai Fire Therapy (Yam Khang), and Chavutti Thirumal (Ayurvedic Keralite Barefoot Massage).