How to Give a Foot Massage

a woman foot massage her little fingers by professional foot massage

Foot massages are considered as complementary and alternative medicine, so it’s vital to know how to give a foot massage. For centuries, many cultures have seen foot massages as a way to promote health and well being. Every day millions of people all over the world use them to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, boost general health, and to rehabilitate injuries.

Your feet work for you every day. Just like your back, neck, and shoulders, your feet could benefit from a regular rubdown. Foot massages give you a chance to check out your feet for problems like bunions, blisters, toenail problems and corns. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself foot massage or a session with a reflexologist your whole body will reap the benefits.

What is a Foot Massage?

someone massaging a woman's foot surrounded with beautiful lotus flower and scrub to smell the nice fragrant

This ancient method is a practical yet simple way to relax your body and mind. Foot massages stimulate muscles, enhance circulation, reduce pain, and ease tension. Ancient recordings of about 5,000-year-old Indian Vedic literature says that people practiced foot massage as a relationship between teacher and student, man and wife or friends.

Drawings of reflexology dating back to 2500 BC are found in the tomb of Ankhmahor, an Egyptian physician. The “Internal Medicine Book of the Yellow Emperor,” a Chinese book dated first century BC, details the six meridians located on the leg. It talks about the different massage techniques as well. The American Indian culture during its heyday between 300-700 AD attached vital importance to a foot massage. The Indian Americans used reflex therapy for both diagnostic and healing purposes. Obviously, learning how to give a foot massage has been a vital skill throughout history.

How to Give a Foot Massage

A foot massage relaxes the tender, tight or cramped areas of your feet. Cocoa butter, lanolin, oil or creams made especially for the feet make the skin soft and supple. The following are the steps for the perfect foot massage.

Start at the toes

Hands massaging a foot Start from the tip of the toe and move slowly towards the ankle. Then, starting from the ankle slide your fingers back down the foot. Gently cup the person’s foot in your hands and apply firm pressure with your thumb. Move up and down the foot two to three times.

Massage the arches of the foot

person massaging a footThe next area you need to pay attention to when learning how to give a foot massage are the arches. Using your thumb apply light pressure to the arches of the person’s foot. Then move one of your thumbs in the clockwise direction and the other in a counterclockwise direction. Repeat this process for at least 30 seconds.

Gently place your thumb on the opposite end of the person’s foot. Once there move each thumb toward one another. Repeat these exercises at least three to five times inching up and down. Avoid putting too much pressure on any sore points.

Work on the heels of the foot

a professional massage artist lifting a foot to properly massage Next move your thumbs up and down the Achilles tendon of the person. Slowly knead the heel in a gentle circular motion. Lift up the person’s foot with one hand to access the heel. Carefully apply massage oil on this area to treat dry, rough skin as well as to reduce friction.

Squeeze and pull the toes of the feet

Interlocking fingers with toes to massageWhen learning how to give a foot massage the next thing you do is firmly hold the foot of the person with one hand. Now, place the thumb of your other hand on top of the receiver’s big toe. Position your index finger underneath their big toe. Slowly rotate the toe to one side and gently pull the toe from top to bottom.

Without delay go back to the top of the toe, then, using your thumb and pointer finger, squeeze it gently but firmly. Repeat this exercise for each toe. This action will relax and loosen the toes. Avoid yanking the person’s toe as it might injure them. Applying even pressure while rotating, squeezing and gently pulling the toes.

Move up and down each toe with your fingers

two feet with red toenail polish being massagedTightly hold behind the heel of the person with one hand. Keep the index finger of your other hand between the person’s toes. Immediately slide your fingers to the base of the toes and then back up. Repeat this exercise two or three times between the toes of the foot.

Massage one foot at a time

Bottom of a foot being massagedWhile massaging on one foot, leave the other foot in warm water or on a soft pillow to relax. First, do the basic therapy on one foot and shift your attention to the other foot. The person’s feet will be relaxed if you repeat the same movements for each foot.

Deep massage the soles, ankles, and pressure points

Bottom of a foot being kneaded by another person's fistYou must perform this foot therapy slowly and firmly. It involves massaging the layers of the inner tissue which includes fascia and other supportive tissues that make up the muscles and joints.

Perform a deep massage on the ankles

Two hands holding another person's ankle Find the hollow area of the person’s ankles, and using your thumb gently squeeze this area for a few seconds. Next, make circular motions around the receiver’s ankles. It’s equally important that you apply even pressure to this area. If the person’s ankle is sore cup the heel with one hand and the ball of the foot with your other hand. Slowly rotate the foot in clockwise and anticlockwise directions three times each.

For a deeper massage hold the person’s foot with one hand at the heel. Ball up your other hand and gently press it on the sole of their foot. Make circular motions with your fist on the person’s sole as if you’re kneading the dough. Then gently slide up and down the bottom of the feet.

Apply pressure on specific areas of the foot

Finally, using your thumb and forefinger gently apply even pressure to the following regions of the feet:

  • Deep massage the heels and toes if the person has a headache and urinary issues
  • For a headache and insomnia massage the soles of the feet
  • To address the receiver’s back issues massage the pinky toe side

How to Give a Foot Massage to Yourself

Relax and sit in a comfortable chair. Slowly place your left foot on your right thigh. Take some oil or cream in your hand and gently massage your toes, arch, and heel. Perform a deeper foot massage by pressing the knuckles of your right hand into your left foot. Knead your foot as you would knead the dough. Gently pull your hands back and forth or apart. This action significantly stretches your muscles underneath. Repeat the therapy on the other foot.

Different Types of Foot Massage

Foot massages offer countless health benefits. Due to the advancement of body care methods and research studies, you can now choose more than 50-foot massages.

Swedish foot massage

A gentle and relaxing therapy, the Swedish foot massage is the most common type of foot massage with soft lengthening and light relaxing strokes. It also involves kneading and circular motion along the soles. After this foot therapy, you’ll feel incredibly relaxed. Physicians recommend this foot therapy for patients with joint injuries.

Deep tissue foot massage

Another form of therapeutic foot treatment the deep foot massage targets the inner layer of muscles in your feet. The therapist concentrates on fascia, calf muscles and Achilles heel by applying deep finger pressure through slow strokes. Deep tissue massage is useful for treating chronic muscle soreness, plantar fasciitis (heel pain), injury recovery and other health issues. It is not recommended if there are any open wounds on the plantar fascia or surrounding areas.

Aromatherapy foot massage

Learning how to give a foot massage with aromatherapy is nice. Aromatherapy involves the use of aromatic essential oils and relaxing music. Generally, you inhale these oils or a therapist massages it into your skin. The oil vaporizes and stimulates your olfactory system which soothes your mind and flushes away all your tensions. The different aromatherapy oils produce different effects such as reducing stress, increasing energy, inducing relaxation or cause drowsiness.

Shiatsu foot massage

In this therapy, the therapist applies pressure with thumbs, elbows, hands, knees or feet to the pressure points on the body. Shiatsu massage also focusses on stretching or rotating your limbs, pressure points, joints or meridians. Generally, each point is pressed for about five seconds. As a result of this massage, you enjoy a better balance of the body as well as ultimate relaxation.

Reflexology foot massage

In the late 1800s, Europeans invented reflexology. It means applying pressure to a person’s feet or hands to bring about a physical change to the body. The basis of placement of pressure depends on a system of zones and reflex areas which correspond to other parts of the body.

A Michigan State University study states that reflexology helps cancer patients manage the symptoms and equips them to perform their daily tasks. It is believed that the foot reflexology points helps to treat diseases and conditions like neuropathy, arthritis, cancer, digestive issues, headaches, PMS pain and more.

The other forms of foot massages are listed below:

  • Hot stone foot massage
  • Thai foot massage
  • Sports foot massage
  • Chinese foot massage
  • Acupressure foot massage
  • Prenatal foot massage
  • Ayurveda foot massage
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Infant foot massage

Health Benefits of Foot Massage

Regular foot massage helps in promoting physiological as well as physical health. Listed below are some of the significant benefits of foot massage

Improves circulation

Most of us lead a sedentary lifestyle and wear tight footwear. All these actions hamper the blood circulation to our feet. Researchers have found that massage therapy improves blood flow and reduces muscle soreness after exercise. A quick daily foot massage helps to transport oxygen to blood cells which boosts your overall health. According to research studies, massage therapy significantly improves your vascular function even if you don’t exercise.

Removes toxins

Improved circulation cleans the waste and toxins from the body. As a result, the symptoms of muscle pain, stress and fatigue disappear. When you don’t remove the acidic byproducts from your body, they accumulate over time. This process leads to various diseases. Increased blood circulation helps the tissues to get vital nutrients and oxygen. Furthermore, massage therapy boosts lymph circulation which helps to detoxify the tissues.

Provides relaxation

Foot massage reduces anxiety and brings about a deep state of relaxation. After a tired and stressful day, a simple foot massage for just five to ten minutes before your bedtime will improve feelings of general well being. A stunning study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing states that receiving foot massages after the death of a loved one, provides much-needed consolation, during the period of grieving.

Improved energy and rejuvenation

According to the beliefs of reflexology massaging your feet opens any blockages that hold back energy. This process helps in the free-flowing of energy throughout your body. Moreover, reflexology improves the function of several other organs. By enhancing the function of accessory organs, food processing becomes efficient. As a result, you experience a nice boost in energy.

Promotes sleep

After a hectic day at work, a peaceful slumber is what you need to keep stress at bay. Being stressed will affect your sleep cycle. Thanks to the ability of foot massage to improve the function of the nervous system. Neurotransmitters help to improve sleep and promote relaxation. Thus foot massage fights insomnia and normalizes your circadian rhythm.

Fights depression

Learning how to give a foot massage can also fight depression!

Depression is the result of an imbalance of neurotransmitter levels, anxiety, insomnia, and stress. There are specific points on the feet which helps to alleviate depression symptoms. Massaging these points for at least two times a day helps reduce symptoms of depression. Cortisol is the body’s response to stress. A relaxing foot massage reduces the levels of cortisol to as much as fifty percent. It increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine the mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters.

More benefits

Regular foot massages also help reduce swollen feet, decrease premenstrual symptoms in women and relieve symptoms of chronic sinusitis. They also help treat arthritis, help people who suffer from migraines, and improve liver function.

Get a Foot Massage Today

Practiced since ancient times with plenty of health benefits up its sleeve, foot massage is here to stay. You should definitely learn how to give a foot massage to yourself and your loved ones. Spending just five to ten minutes a day to give your foot the TLC it needs will ensure you live a long, healthy and stress-free life. You will not regret it.

About