The practice of foot massage has been used in many cultures for centuries to improve health and relax the body. Most forms of foot massage borrow elements from a variety of practices, such as Shiatsu and Reflexology, which follow the belief that applying pressure to the more than 7,000 nerves in the foot can release energetic blockages in the rest of the body. Foot Massage and Reflexology can be used as pain relief, to help alleviate stress and even to speed up injury recovery.
Traditionally, foot massages are performed using the hands, although treatments may sometimes include the use of sticks or rollers to more effectively stimulate the reflex areas in the foot.
Whether you’re giving yourself a foot rub, or making a day of it at a spa with treatment from a reflexology practitioner, a foot massage can be a rewarding complimentary massage treatment that impacts positively on your entire body.
History of Foot Massage
Foot massage holds great importance in many cultures. In Indian tradition, foot massage has played an integral part of defining the dynamics of relationships for thousands of years, while in ancient Egypt, drawings on the burial site of pharaohs are believed to show reflexology points.
This particular type of massage also has significance in Native American culture, where it is understood to treat a variety of ailments.
Benefits of a Foot Massage
Assuming you can get over your tickly feet (don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems!), there are many potential benefits to a foot massage. These may include:
Stress release: massaging the feet might be the answer to winding down after a difficult day at work. A particular area on the foot that’s good for this is the solar plexus reflex. Holding medium pressure on this may bring about a full-body release of stress.
Balance and wellbeing: a foot massage can help to relax the whole body, helping you to sleep better, and leaving you with a rejuvenated energy to bring to your day.
Strengthened immune system: stress can negatively impact on your body by diminishing your immune system. A foot massage may release cortisol into your bloodstream, reducing your stress levels and boosting your immunity.
Better circulation: massaging the extremities helps with the circulation of blood around the body, can brings nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and flushes toxins.
Alleviating symptoms of illness: massage has been reported to reduce pain and minimise symptoms of hypertension, cancer, liver disease and chronic fatigue. If you’re suffering from a serious illness, always consult your doctor before beginning any course of massage therapy.
DIY Foot Massage
Although it’s worth finding a professional to show you how it’s done, you can also give yourself or a friend a foot massage at home. Try these steps:
Wash your feet (and dry them well)
Apply lotion or oil to your hands, covering the fingers and palms.
Rub your feet all over, making sure to go between the toes too!
Hold the top of each foot with both hands, and use small circular motions with your thumbs on each toe, working down to the base of your foot and right up to the ankle.
Now do the same to the base of your foot. You can afford to use a bit more pressure here! Working from the top of the toes, move to down towards the heel.
You may also wish to loosen the joints by twisting and rotating the feet and toes.
Now firmly but gently press the pad of the foot. This is where you’ll find reflexology points. You can use a map to target certain areas.
Remember to repeat everything on the other foot.
The main reflexology points in the foot are as follows:
- Spine – instep
- Liver – outside of right foot
- Spleen – outside of left foot
- The head and face – toes
- Lower back, lower limbs, genitals – heel
- Kidneys – sole of the feet