Massage therapist Beth Dixon relies on some rather unconventional tools: her feet.
Dixon — who recently opened Antidote Body Therapies in the historic Y on Fifth Avenue — practices Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy. The technique uses the therapist’s body weight and bare feet to provide broad, deep pressure.
“It’s more relaxing than deep tissue massage and more pressure than Swedish,” says Dixon, who began practicing Ashiatsu seven years ago.
It’s particularly good for people with a lot of muscle mass, like athletes, or those who suffer from chronic back pain, Dixon says.
Ashiatsu is not to be confused with walking on people’s backs — a definite no-no — and therapists rely on overhead bars to keep their balance and vary pressure. Dixon says because feet have a larger surface area than hands and are contoured, they offer a better massage.
And, with Ashiatsu, there’s no such thing as, ahem, the agony of de feet because it’s actually easier on the therapist than relying solely on hands and arms, says Dixon, who uses a file daily to keep those tootsies smooth.
Sessions start at 45 minutes for $50, with price breaks for frequent customers. “You can’t get too much massage,” Dixon says. “It’s great for your health.”
For the person receiving Ashiatsu massage, it might not even be evident that the therapist is using feet. Dixon recalls one new client who, after the massage, saw her business cards and said, “You step on people?”
Laughs Dixon, “I guess he didn’t read the brochure first.”