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A Feet First Approach to Massage

By: Tom Tarapacki

If you stopped at the the Buffalo Subaru Chase post-race party on Bidwell Parkway, you may have noticed a unique practitioner. David Ireland of One Hand, One Foot Massage was there with his massage table. As you can see, it has an overhead bar apparatus which enables him to massage with his feet as well as his hands. He was giving massages to many of those in attendance, including marathon great Bill Rodgers.

Ashiatsu (ashi means foot and atsu means pressure) is an ancient form of massage developed by Buddhist monks. In Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy the therapist supports himself with parallel wooden bars mounted above for support in order to vary pressure and weight while applying different foot strokes along the body.

David Ireland got involved with massage therapy after a career as a pressman for the Buffalo News. Ireland himself is very active, and has competed in numerous marathons and triathlons. He thought that he could use massage to help other athletes recuperate from and avoid injuries. “I decided to do it because I wanted to give something back to the athletes,” he said.

After completing training through the New York Institute of Massage, he became interested in Ashiatsu, a deep tissue massage. He was intrigued by its benefits, especially how the use of feet benefited the practitioner. Any massage therapist who specializes in deep tissue work has to deal with a great amount of strain on their hands and body. Ireland, who is not a big man, saw that he could benefit greatly by using his feet.

Ireland went on to study Ashiatsu by taking a Barefoot Basics seminar, and then got his Ashiatsu certification in Newport News, VA. He later completed advanced certification in St. Petersburg, Fla.  He has numerous satisfied  clients throughout the Buffalo area, including many athletes. He frequently sets up booths at various running events to demonstrate Ashiatsu to the public.

An Ashiatsu deep tissue massage at One Hand, One Foot Massage is not one of those relaxing massages that puts you to sleep. Instead, it involves working vigorously on your body, stretching your muscles, relieving tension, and working out kinks and knots. His goal is to develop better functioning muscles and joints, while relieving stiffness and pain. Using this barefoot technique will also help flush out lactic acid, reduce muscle soreness and alleviate back pain. He also does hot stone massage and “pre” and post event massage. To help avoid problems, he teaches active release techniques which can reduce painful IT bands, hamstrings, knee joints and ankles.

Seeing someone do a massage with their feet can be a bit disconcerting at first,  but after a while you understand the practicality of it–especially when you experience a deep tissue massage.

For more information, call One Hand, One Foot Massage at (716) 574-4602, email, or check it out when Ireland gives demonstrations at one of the various road races in the city.

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