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A foot up on health

Erin Daugherty walks all over her clients, but they keep coming back.

Daugherty, an Ashland-based massage therapist, treats pain, chronic tension and muscle knots with her feet using a technique called Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, a technique developed by Ruthie Piper Hardee.

Holding onto a Pilates-esque contraption with bars, Daugherty shifts her 115-pound body to apply pressure with her feet.

"Feet are strong and have fewer bony protuberances for penetrating muscles," explains Daugherty, who was raised on a 200-acre beef and blueberry ranch in Fairview. "The foot as a tool uses a large amount of pressure without inflicting pain. Though an elbow or knuckle can feel invasive and sharp, the body allows and accepts the broadness of the foot to sink even deeper."

Daugherty, who grew with a horse as her best friend, says she was inspired to become a massage therapist after meeting a group of women in Spain who were working their way around the world as massage therapists. In 2001 and 2002, she attended the International Professional School of Bodywork in Pacific Beach, Calif. She then took advanced training at the Nevada School for Massage, which is where she met Hardee and was introduced to ashiatsu massage, she says.

Gravity-assisted, barefoot massage, using a portable bar invented by Hardee, "was deep and effective, but gentle," says Daugherty, also trained to perform Mana Lomi Hawaiian massage, cranial-sacral manipulation, deep-tissue myofascial release and reflexology.

After graduating from massage school, Daugherty practiced in Costa Rica for a year and a half before returning to Oregon and opening Mariday Massage. The name comes from a fusion of her two grandmothers' names with her own middle name.

Chris Gale of Ashland credits Daugherty's technique with easing the pain from a chronic knee problem.

"After one session, I was hooked," says Gale, 68, who had her first treatment after receiving a gift certificate for the holidays. "Little did I know that she would be able to heal a chronic knee problem I had from playing catcher for 15 years and being an avid gardener. My right knee will be eternally grateful."

"When I reluctantly leave after a treatment, I feel refreshed, relaxed and like something has been accomplished," says Kathleen Taylor, an Ashland resident who began going to Daugherty about three months ago.

Taylor says she also appreciates the "desserts" that Daugherty adds to her sessions, such as a heated, cherry pit-filled neck roll and warm towels placed on bone-tired feet.

"Erin can do more with her feet than most people can do with their hands," says Cindy Ceteras, a massage therapist who gets treatments from Daugherty.

When Daugherty is not walking on clients, she coordinates local Farm to Fork events with her husband, Matthew Domingo. Farm to Fork creates culinary experiences that connect people with local growers.

To learn more about ashiatsu massage, see www.maridaymassage.com or call Daugherty at 503-473-4955. Her office is at Wellspring Centre for Body Balance, 108 E. Hersey St., Suite 2A, in Ashland.

A foot up on health