Lisa Nell performing Ashiatsu Massage

In the News

June 20, 2018

Daily Herald logoOne Orem massage clinic is coming up on its first year anniversary, and has already experienced significant growth, due to one of its more unique offerings: Ashiatsu massage.

Ashiatsu is a form of barefoot massage. “Ashi” which means “foot” and “Atsu” means “pressure,” and derives from ancient Eastern massage practices. Canyon Gate Therapy and Wellness offers Ashiatsu massage as part of its line of massage options.

“Ashiatsu is the western form of oriental bar therapy — which means I use my feet to massage, rather than my hands,” Lisa Nell, co-owner of Canyon Gate, said in an interview. “It is deep tissue massage, but kind.”

Often, patients need a deep tissue massage, especially those suffering from chronic inflammation, health conditions or even some injuries. But deep tissue massage can be either painful when done by a therapist’s hands or arms, or cannot get to specific pain points.

“This uses long, flowing strokes. It’s just a different experience,” said Daniel Nell, Lisa’s husband and co-owner of the business.

Rachel Birch is a regular patient of Lisa Nell’s and comes specifically for Ashiatsu sessions. She has fibromyalgia caused by chronic illnesses, and this massage helps work out her inflammations in a less painful way, she said during a recent session.

“I really like deep massage, and it’s really hard to find people strong enough to get deep in there. This form of massage is just a lot deeper,” she said.

Both of the Nells are military veterans, and Lisa Nell has been a massage therapist for 18 years. She performs all types of massage therapy for patients, but has a special love for Ashiatsu, and Canyon Gate is one of only a handful of places in Utah County it’s offered. There are few who are specially trained to massage their clients with foot pressure, and the practice requires a different setup than the standard massage table.

During a massage session, Lisa Nell supports herself by using overhead bars hanging from the ceiling that run the length of the massage table. This allows her to direct the pressure and strokes of her feet along a patient’s back and shoulder muscles. It is a workout for the therapist, but Lisa Nell calls it a meditative dance, where the massage techniques are akin to dance steps.

“Never do I walk on you, it’s more a gliding, deep relaxing pressure,” Lisa Nell said.

Whitney Dahl, co-owner of Massage Barre in Lehi, specializes in Ashiatsu massage as well. She also likens it to a dance.

“In traditional massage, you dance around the table. But this is like a dance with your feet,” she said.

The Nells started Canyon Gate Massage last July in a small one-room office east of their current office. Business grew so quickly, they moved in November to their office at 1145 East 800 North in Orem. They recently underwent another expansion, taking over more office space within the same building to accommodate more patients and therapists.

To celebrate this expansion, they are holding a special grand reopening event Friday, Saturday and Sunday with discounts on Ashiatsu massage. To find out more about what they offer, visit or via Facebook at

Karissa Neely reports on Business and North County events, and can be reached at 801-344-2537 or Follow her on Twitter: @DHKarissaNeely