How important are the bars in your BarefootBar Work?

“I’ve done this before…without bars…!” The students who utter those words on their first day of barefoot basics, before the footwork begins, quickly realize that what we do in Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy™, is not recommended, safe, or even possible to do without bars attached to the ceiling. There is no better, safer, and more functional way to glide, slide, balance, shift weight, transition, and efficiently palpate the tissue on the table without those awesome bars hanging above the table! The first thought that comes to mind when I hear that phrase is, “Oh, I seriously doubt you’ve done what you’re about to learn…just wait ‘til you see what it is we truly do!”

When you’re happy with your bar set up, you’re clients will be happier on the table. How do you know if you’re happy? Well, if you’re feeling any knee, foot, shoulder, or hip pain while you’re working, you’re not happy! Our workshops concentrate on body mechanics, as it’s every bit as essential as it was in your handwork learned in school. Remember the fuss made over body mechanics then? Double that, and that’s our focus on proper body positioning & weight distribution in our classes. (Perhaps a Refresher course would be useful if you’re feeling any of the pains listed above).

Not only are we about to unveil our most incredible set of portable bars ever made, but we’re at the peak of finding the best set up for each & every therapist’s bar installation. We now know the best measurements through time, patience, experience, and of course through our thousands of graduates with whom we’ve discussed numerous options for construction. What we have always known, is that our technique simply cannot be performed without the use of overhead bars.

Our work with the bars is similar to that of a gymnast or ballet dancer: it cannot be practiced and executed without the proper bar set up! You may see all sorts of structures set up by therapists nation-wide, some even our own graduates, but please, please, please do not attempt setting up bars and winging it on your own! In your search of barefoot massage, you’ll come across many older pictures where the bars are not set to our current standards. Just ‘cause you see it, doesn’t make it right!

Become Goldie Locks when setting up your bars: bars should not be too high, too low, too w i d e, and never, ever on the sides! There are currently bars being offered on the market that are attached to the floor and/or the legs of the table, that come up above the sides of the table for the therapist to lean as they work. As we discuss in classes, this is absolutely the opposite of why we offer this modality to begin with: it’s all about taking pressure of your shoulders while delivering a deep tissue massage. On top of the added pressure to the therapist’s shoulder, the wrist would bear far too much weight at the bend, and serious, permanent damage will result from use of those type of bars. Honestly, how could a therapist possibly have good range of motion working within bars on the side of the table, anyway? It would be like working in a baby’s play pen, and the triple the chance of your client being stepped on! Bars overhead provide the ability to able to be in good body alignment while delivering deep, effective barefoot work.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: If it hurts you, it’s probably hurting your client, too! Our work is designed to be delivered as the most effective, yet gentle, deep tissue ever. This is only possible when you’re using correct body mechanics, and working safely for your own benefit as well as your clients’. Your bar set ups are the beginning and end to a pain free massage for the both of you, so proper installation is key.

As all great organizations do, Ashiatsu Barefoot Bar Group constantly refines and improves their entire program, equipment included.  Ruthie Hardee’s instructors are now very well established, and are able to begin working together much more to create an incredibly unified, organized, and informative workshop, no matter where it’s taken!  Our Ashi-family is stronger than ever, and it shows in our graduates as well as in our reputation in the industry. We are so proud of where we are now, and we are even more passionate & excited for where we are headed.

Ashiatsu Deepfeet Bar Therapy® is the leader in Continuing Education for Massage Therapists  nationwide. Our method of deep tissue barefoot Swedish massage using an over head support system has improved the quality of life for many massage therapists around the world. Learn more at