The idea of barefoot shiatsu seems strange to western minds, yet compared to the invasive nature of much western medicine it is a gentle way to treat the body.
Both barefoot shiatsu and the manual version work on the same principle. It is believed that the entire human body, mind and spirit are connected, and that problems in one system can affect our overall health.
Specifically, practitioners work with the flow of energy around the body. They believe that our essential life energy (Qi) flows throughout the body in channels called meridians.
If the flow of Qi becomes blocked or impaired, there is disharmony and imbalance - this can manifest itself in a variety of emotional, mental or physical problems. Therapists apply pressure at key meridian points to unblock this energy flow, thus allowing the body to return to harmony.
So why might a practitioner work using their feet? The principle difference between this and the manual version is that this is stronger and more vigorous technique.
This allows the practitioner to work deeper, releasing chronic tension. It can be particularly effective with clients who are experiencing chronic pain, for example back pain, or feel stuck in life.
Techniques used include rocking with the feet, walking on the back and strong stretches. The overall experience is invigorating, as the therapist unlocks tension and helps the body to move blood, oxygen and energy around more efficiently.