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I am excited to have Ashiatsu featured in an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer!

Updated: Apr 16, 2018

Ashiatsu massage loosens tight muscles with nothing but bare feet and gravity: Stretching Out

By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer on

May 10, 2016 at 11:00 AM, updated May 24, 2016 at 11:36 AM

FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio – Generally speaking, I don't let people walk all over me. For Ashiatsu massage, however, I wisely made an exception.

Lying facedown on a table while Fairview Park‐based therapist Kim Geracioti hovered over me, kneading my back with her heels, I realized two things: When it comes to massage, legs are stronger than arms and bare feet can be every bit as dexterous as hands.

It was strange, I'll admit. I've had plenty of massages in my day. Even several exotic ones. This one, though, took the cake as the most unusual-feeling and the most elaborate, the only form I've tried involving specialized equipment.

The therapist, of course, can't float. To massage and apply pressure with her feet, Geracioti ( either sat legs‐up in a chair at my level or dangled above me from a ballet-style barre affixed to the ceiling, the signature tool of Ashiatsu (or "foot pressure"), a 20-year‐old method developed by Ruthie Piper Hardee.

At no point did Geracioti, one of a handful of Ashiatsu therapists in Northeast Ohio, stand on me full‐weight. Unlike shiatsu, its ancient, similar forebear, Ashiatsu is generally a gentle, relaxing procedure, closer in feel to traditional Western or Swedish massage than to the Japanese form, which goes deeper. Geracioti said she took up the practice so as take advantage of gravity and spare her hands and wrists.

One other big difference: no clothing allowed. I preserved my modesty with a sheet at all times, but even something as minimal as underwear would have impeded Geracioti, since much of Ashiatsu consists of long, flowing strokes on oiled skin. One portion I recall ran from my calves all the way up to my shoulders.

I'd be hard-pressed (no pun intended) to tell you exactly what Geracioti did to me, as I spent most of the hour-long session either facedown on her table or face-up with my head in a wrap.

What I do know is that Geracioti addressed each limb individually, and tended to knead and glide rather than dig or twist. I did also summon the will to ask for details a few times, when a move struck me as particularly interesting or good-feeling, so as to gather at least a few specifics.

I already mentioned the long, whole‐body slide. That, in short, was amazing.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Ashiatsu effect on my hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips. What normally takes me several sessions on a foam roller or other therapeutic device Geracioti accomplished in mere minutes with her gentle, sweeping feet and finger- like toes. She even used her feet to help me execute a perfect runner's stretch, targeting my iliotibial band.

Hands-­down (again, no pun intended) my favorite maneuver, though, was the one she performed on my neck and shoulders. Sitting behind my head in a chair, Geracioti pulled me up by my armpits while pressing down on my shoulders with her feet. Stress poured out like water from a squeezed sponge.

Massage, alas, is not a regular part of my life. Between work, family and fitness obligations, I have trouble enough making time even to stretch.

But I have no trouble recommending Ashiatsu. Chronic pain. Stiff joints. Tight muscles. All of these are good reasons to let Geracioti and peers tread wherever they want.

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