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Foot Massage

Last Updated on Jun 06, 2016
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What is Foot Massage?

Be kind to your feet that bear your body weight and helps you move around all day. Years of wear and tear can be hard on them. It is important to practice good foot care and maintain proper blood circulation in them. Pamper your feet with a massage to help relax the muscles, regulate blood flow and reduce stress.


A foot massage involves working on the feet with pressure, either manually or with mechanical aids to promote relaxation and health. A professional foot massage from a spa can be a treat, but a do-it-yourself self-massage or simply a rubdown of your feet can also ease pain and help you relax.

Foot Massage

What are the Types of Foot Massage?

  • Swedish Foot Massage: It is one of the most commonly practiced forms of massage. It is a gentle one andinvolves five different styles of strokes, namely deep circular movements, long strokes, kneading, tapping and vibration to help relax and energize your feet. Quite often, patients recovering from joint injuries may benefit from taking this massage.
  • Reflexology Foot Massage: As suggests the name, it is all about reflex actions of the feet that help in relieving pain in other parts of the body by manipulating specific areas of the feet. It involves massage techniques applied to the calf, upper leg region and the foot.
  • Deep Tissue Foot Massage: This involves slower and more forceful strokes that target the deeper muscle layers and connective tissue. This method is ideal for people who suffer muscle damage due to chronic injuries and stiff, painful joints.
  • Thai Foot Massage: This is a deep massaging where you use your thumb to apply pressure along specific lines of the entire foot. This method involves the application of pressure by the practitioner’s thumb, finger, palm or elbow. Each point is pressed for five to 10 seconds until the patient feels pain and this is repeated for five times. This kind of deep massage pressure might improve blood circulation and enhance skin sensations of the bottom of the feet. This helps diabetic patients improve balance by increasing the range of motion (ROM) and sensation of the foot.
Types of Foot Massage Thai Foot Massage
  • Sports Foot Massage: Mostly preferred by athletes, this type of foot massage involves different strokes and massages before and after they take part in hardcore sports events. This method is similar to Swedish massage, but this is ideal for people who take part in sports activities and helps prevent injuries by increasing flexibility. It is useful in treating muscle strains and injuries as well.
  • Trigger Point Massage/Neuromuscular Therapy Foot Massage: For those suffering from chronic pain in joints or limbs, this therapeutic massage can serve as the best natural remedy. This method involves manipulating the soft tissues of the pain zone, thereby treating the underlying causes of pain. It stimulates both the nervous system as well as the muscular system and enhances blood circulation in the trigger points.

Techniques Involved in Foot Massage

Foot massages generally involve acts like rubbing, pressing, stroking and manipulating muscles in a specific manner using fingers. However, there are different kinds of techniques followed such as:

  • Traditional Therapeutic Techniques: They focus on relaxing the muscles and joints to relieve pain. They are manual techniques, which include smooth gliding movements, friction, squeezing, wringing and kneading of soft tissues to stimulate the muscles, evoke relaxation and improve circulation.
  • Soft-tissue Release: This technique involves precise extension and specific compression performed in a systematic method to release muscle spasm and scar tissues.
  • Acupressure: This technique involves applying pressure to specific pressure points to improve general health and energy flow. This ancient Asian art of healing uses fingers on the surface of the skin to press key points that control the flow of energy via chakras and meridians.
Foot Massage Techniques Acupressure
  • Aromatherapy: In this technique, scented oils and relaxing music serve as relaxation elements that act upon multiple senses.
  • Reflexology: This technique seeks to improve internal organ function by massaging specific areas of the feet,exerting firm pressure on certain points.
  • Trigger-point Therapy or Myotherapy: This technique involves the application of alternating pressure over the area of muscle spasm. The massage feels slightly painful at first but after a while relieves the pre-existing pain as well. Pressure may be applied with the help of fingers, knuckles as well as elbows. 

Benefits of Foot Massage

People from various cultures throughout the world have been practicing foot massages for centuries in order to promote health and wellness. Foot massage is beneficial to both physical and mental health. Here is a list of the most important benefits of foot massage:

  • Pain Relief: Foot massage is one of the most common alternative treatments to relieve pain. A study aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of foot reflexology on fatigue, pain, and sleep has revealed that foot reflexology is a very useful nursing intervention that relieves fatigue and promotes good sleep. Foot massages coupled with regular foot exercises can cure chronic heel pain.
  • Allays Back Pain: Foot health and posture have been proven to be associated with back pain. The edge of the foot has pain-points that are associated with back pain. While massaging these points the pain and stiffness in the spineare relieved There exists a spine line between the big toe and the heel of the foot. Massaging this line from the front to the back of the toe by applying pressure can be very effective in back pain relief. A study conducted by the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research has revealed that the nurses who suffered from a backache greatly benefited from a foot massage.
  • Improves Blood Circulation & Lowers Blood Pressure: Sedentary lifestyle might make one unaccustomed to using feet muscles regularly andthey hardly get any kind of exercise. Foot massages stimulate nerve functions, eiminate toxins and improve circulation. A study conducted among dementia patients revealed that foot massage reduced blood pressure, improved their moods and lessened their anxiety levels.
  • Reduces Symptoms of Certain Ailments: Various studies have reported a correlation between foot reflexology and improvement in symptoms of certain ailments such as cancer, symptomatic idiopathic detrusor over-activity, diabetes, sleep disorders, multiple sclerosis, migraine, depression, and dementia. Therapeutic massage reduces symptoms, improves symptom control and promotes general wellness. A foot massage also helps alleviate symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) such as irritability, mood swings, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, unhappiness, and fatigue. Likewise, it can also minimize symptoms of menopause.
  • Prevents Injuries of Foot & Ankle: Massaging feet can help recover from an injury and reduce soreness of foot muscles. When combined with strengthening exercises, it can help prevent future injuries.
  • Reduces Anxiety and Depression: A foot massage goes beyond just putting you in a relaxed state during the process. Frequent sessions of foot massage significantly reduce anxiety and depression.
Foot Massage Benefits Relaxation
  • Combats Edema during Pregnancy: Pregnant women commonly experience fluid retention in their feet and ankles that causes swelling. Foot massages performed on a daily basis along with plenty of rest and a proper diet can help combat this condition. 

Health Tips

  • You can purchase massage devices from your local pharmacies or health stores that can help relax your feet. Low-tech devices like foot rollers can aid quick foot massages while at work or home. Just roll your bare feet over the device for a quick massage.
  • Do not neglect your feet when it comes to taking care of your health. Choose shoes that fit properly. Add foot massage to your repertoire of services.
Foot Massage Foot Care
  • Whenever you can, try to do simple exercises to strengthen the muscles of your feet.
  • Beware of the risks of massages! Avoid getting one in case you have bleeding disorders, burns, healing wounds, fractures, severe osteoporosis or deep vein thrombosis.
  • A massage should not be painful or uncomfortable. Too much of pressure during a massage can sometimes cause serious problems.
  1. Foot massage: The pause that refreshes and is good for you! - (http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foot-massage-the-pause-that-refreshes-and-it-good-for-you)
  2. Simple and Effective ‘Spine Line’ Foot Massage to Reverse Back Pain FAST - (http://healthycures.org/simple-effective-spine-line-foot-massage-reverse-pain-fast)
  3. How Does Reflexology Work? - (http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology/how-does-reflexology-work)
  4. Foot Health and Massage Therapy – It’s Not Just About Reflexology - (http://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/archives/2012/03/foot_health_and.html)
  5. Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743)
  6. 9 Unexpected Benefits Of Foot Massage That Make You Want To Have One Now - (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/9-unexpected-benefits-foot-massage-that-make-you-want-have-one-now.html)
  7. Lee J1, Han M, Chung Y, Kim J, Choi J. Effects of foot reflexology on fatigue, sleep and pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Korean Acad Nurs. 2011 Dec;41(6):821-33. doi: 10.4040/jkan.2011.41.6.821.
  8. Ernst E1, Posadzki P, Lee MS. Reflexology: an update of a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Maturitas. 2011 Feb;68(2):116-20. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.10.011. Epub 2010 Dec 15.
  9. S.M. Sagar, MD,*‡ T. Dryden, MEd RMT,† and R.K. Wong, MD*‡ Massage therapy for cancer patients: a reciprocal relationship between body and mind. Curr Oncol. 2007 Apr; 14(2): 45–56. PMCID: PMC1891200
  10. Uraiwan Chatchawan, Wichai Eungpinichpong Piyawan Plandee,and Junichiro Yamauchi1. Effects of Thai Foot Massage on Balance Performance in Diabetic Patients with Peripheral Neuropathy: A Randomized Parallel-Controlled Trial. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2015; 21: 68–75. Published online 2015 Apr 20. doi: 10.12659/MSMBR.894163 PMCID: PMC4416467
  11. Nurul Haswani Embong, Yee Chang Soh, Long Chiau Ming, and Tin Wui Wongc. Revisiting reflexology: Concept, evidence, current practice, and practitioner training. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Oct; 5(4): 197–206. Published online 2015 Sep 28. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2015.08.008 PMCID: PMC4624523

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