Prima Donna Gives a Whole New Meaning to ‘Foot Massage’
by Martinique Davis
Aug 25, 2012 | 1814 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – Lying facedown on a massage table, it’s hard to visualize the specialized technique that certified Ashiatsu massage therapist Donna Joywalker employs in her sessions.

It’s hard for the mind to fathom that Joywalker is actually walking across my back, suspended by bars strung over the massage table, and that the deep compression strokes she uses to melt the muscles in this deeply relaxing form of massage are actually delivered by her feet.

“Working with the feet allows me to cover more surface area, without it feeling uncomfortable or bony,” Joywalker explains of Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, a contemporary form of barefoot massage created by American massage therapist Ruthie Hardee more than two decades ago.

This foot-delivered form of massage therapy results in a wholly relaxing body treatment, as Joywalker employs long, slow strokes across the muscle groups with her feet, regulating the pressure she delivers by balancing her body weight while suspended on the parallel bars built above her specially designed Ashiatsu massage table. Akin to both Swedish massage and Rolfing (a form of therapy that uses soft tissue manipulation for structural integration,) Ashiatsu’s deep, deliberate compression strokes allow the body to relax immediately while stretching the fascia underneath the muscles to create an immediate increase in blood and lymph circulation.

“It really is like getting twice the massage in half the time,” Joywalker says. “Most people who receive Ashiatsu do not want traditional massage anymore.”

Longtime Telluride-area chiropractor Dr. Jon-Michael Tucci, who often refers his chiropractic clients to Joywalker for faster and more complete recovery, says he has never experienced a more effective form of massage that is so well tolerated by patients. “It relaxes the fascia, which gives the signal to the spine to release tightness in the muscles. You just melt… It’s deeply relaxing, in a very short amount of time.”

Joywalker, who owns Prima Donna’s Telluride (a massage and skincare studio), has garnered attention at her booths at the Telluride and Mountain Village Farmers Markets this summer with her acrobatic massage modality. A massage therapist for over 20 years, she became certified in this form of massage after deciding that delivering traditional massage, with her hands, thumbs, and elbows, was causing her own body to suffer. “I realized that after doing many years of deep tissue massage, my career and my body were about to crash. I knew I couldn’t keep delivering the kind of deep pressure that many of my clients want, particularly athletes and large men, and so I decided to take the leap and get my training in AOBT. It has saved my career, my hands and my back, not to mention it’s so much fun to do – it’s really like a dance.”

Joywalker lived in Telluride in the mid-70s and early 80s, during which time she helped produce the Telluride Dance Festival. She received her primary training in massage therapy at the Colorado School of Healing Arts in Lakewood in 1990 (she is also an esthetician and certified clinical hypnotherapist). “I have always had a need to understand health from the holistic perspective, from the inside out,” she says, of Prima Donna treatments like the Body/Mind Wrap and guided imagery sessions.

Prima Donna offers facials, body treatments and more traditional massage, at 164 Society Drive, Suite N, Lawson Hill. Ashiatsu services are also available at the Wednesday Farmers Market in Mountain Village and at the Friday Telluride Farmers Market. or call 970/708-1355 for information.

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