Pespeso: Igorot Farmers Leg Massage

PESPESO is a technique of massaging, particularly, the calf to relieve it from the heavy work on the farm. During the preparation of the fields for rice planting, the farmers usually work from dawn to dawn, every day, until the fields are ready for planting. The works require them to stand up almost the whole day.

Normally, tired overworked calf muscles are painful to touch. And the best time for it respond positively to massage is after it was rested 2-3 days after a strenuous walk at the mountains or plowing the fields, or preparing the fields for planting.

But the farmers job don’t give them few days to rest when the work is at its demanding time, so, they need their legs to be ready the following day to continue their work thus, the pespeso was developed.

The Pespeso was designed to address the problem of pain felt by very tired legs, that can’t afford to rest even a day to continue working, when massage immediately.


1.Subject has to lie down on his back or lay inclined. During my younger days, we do this massage
under the shades of trees or in a nipa hut, made up of bamboo and a rooftop cover made up of kugon grass. Today, it can be done on the bed or places where both receiver and giver feel comfortable.

2.The leg is bent on the knee with the foot flat on the ground while the masseur sits on his buttocks on the ground, using a foot to steady the leg of the receiver.

3.The hands work alternately beginning nearest to the ankle joint going up to the back of the knee then go down, then up and down again. The purpose is to shake the tired calf muscles to relieve it from the days’ hard work. The tips of the fingers alternately touch, firmly but gently, the centerline of the calf muscles and pull them alternately to create a vibration effect on the muscles – making them sway back and forth. Start slowly then go faster and end it as fast as one can. This can be done for 1-2 minutes or longer depending on the stamina of the hands and arms of the giver.

4.Next is massage the entire tibialis anterior, the muscle close to the tibia. First is the top of the muscle itself then the muscle  attached to the side of the bone. Use both thumb next to each other or thumb walk the muscle.

5.Next, massage the gastrocnemius muscle on the side of the tibia bone – going down first then up. The best way to do this is use grasping, and utilize the tips of the four fingers to do the work.

6. Next, squeeze the calf muscles with both hands. Fingers meet at the center, beginning again on the muscle nearest to the ankle and go up, then down. 3-5 times.

7.This time shake the calf muscles by doing the first move but this time both hands move in a light rubbing and shaking move going up and down again. Work gradually from slow to fast and slow.

8.One hand squeeze. Squeeze the calf muscles using one hand. Left then right or vice versa. 2-3 times

9.Then fingers of both hands meet at the center of the calf muscle while the thumbs are use as supports. Squeeze the calf muscle up and down.

10.After massaging the calf muscles, the farmers want their achilles tendon to be given especial attention, including the heel and surrounding areas. Squeeze the achilles muscle using the thumb and the forefinger and middle finger.

11.End the massage with number seven technique. Then conclude it with a stretch to the entire leg by flexing the foot on the ankle joint – forward and backwards.

What do you think?

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