Anyone knows that receiving a great foot massage can be a great pain-relieving and intensely relaxing experience. However, many do not yet have the skills, knowledge, and ability to give a good foot massage to a partner, sibling, or another loved one. In this brief guide, we will not only cover some basic elements of how to give a foot massage, but we will also share a few tips and techniques that are usually only practiced by professional massage therapists.
Knowing how to give a foot massage is one thing, but it is important to realize there is much more to it than just technique. You also need to create the right environment when giving a foot massage. Foot massage also has many benefits that you may find surprising, and this type of therapy produces the best results when performed in a relaxed atmosphere.
Benefits of Foot Massage
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There are many benefits of foot massage beyond the fact that it can be an intimate type of foreplay. Foot massage is a great way to help a loved one relax and unwind after a rough day on his or her feet. It also has medical benefits such as improved circulation, reduced headache prevalence, and stress relief. Let's take a closer look at these benefits of foot massage that most don't even know exist and then move on to a quick lesson on how to give a foot massage.
In a 2011 study published by the Midwifery, a group of 65 postpartum women who had complaints of insomnia and poor sleep were divided into two separate groups. One group received foot massages and the other group did not. The group who received foot massage reported that their sleep quality dramatically improved.
Reduced Edema among Pregnant Women
In a 2007 study located in Manisa, a city in western Turkey, 80 pregnant women were divided into two separate groups. The group treated with regular foot massage had less edema and lower circumference than the group of pregnant women that did not receive this form of therapy.
In a 1999 research study published by the Intensive and Critical Care Nursing Journal, 25 critical hospital patients in the intensive care unit were each given a 5-minute foot massage. The majority of these critically ill patients experienced notable improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration after receiving their foot massages.
According to author Janice F. Weisman, an expert on the subject, foot massage works by "stimulating axons that mediate deep pressure and vibration, canceling out the input from pain-conducting axons at the level of the spinal cord."
In an August 2010 study conducted by Applied Nursing Research, Turkish women who had recently given birth via C-section were separated into two groups. The group of women who received foot and hand massages reported a significant decrease in pain activity vs. the group that did not.
According to California-based, licensed massage therapist and author Yasuko Kawamura, massage increases the production of oxytocin within the body. Oxytocin increases the desire to be touched and is known to improve sex drive.
Creating a Relaxing Atmosphere
Before discovering how to give a foot massage, it's important to learn how to create a relaxing atmosphere that is conducive to massage. Put on some relaxing music and turn off all phones and other sources of distraction. It is important to not play music with distracting lyrics. Instead, start out with nature-themed music featuring the sounds of our oceans and rivers.
Although playing music during massage is not required, it is known to increase the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the so-called "feel-good" chemical that helps us relax. Another chemical produced by the brain, melatonin, is primarily responsible for relaxation and sleep. This chemical is released when you are in a darker setting. With this is in mind, prepare the room in which you are going to give the massage with low lighting or candles.
Want to Feel Like a Rock Star? Try Preparing a Warm Foot Bath
Another optional preparation for a foot massage is to soak the feet in a warm bath. The bath softens the dry and cracked skin of the feet's soles, arches, and heels. To make your own foot bath at home, pour warm water into a small tub and add bath salts, essential oils, and marbles. This professional spa-like event will be an experience your partner or loved one will never forget, and you will be glad you put some time into learning how to give a foot massage.
You can also find foot spa machines that come with fancy features such as vibration, heat, bubbles and waterfall effects. If you are short on time or resources, you can simply get a moist, hot towel to wrap up and relax the feet before a foot massage. This towel can also be used to wipe away oil and water once the massage has ended.
How To Give a Foot Massage: Tips, Techniques, & More
Now that we have a better understanding of the benefits of foot massage and how to properly prepare the massage environment, we can put our plans into action by learning how to give a foot massage. This is no easy task, however. You have to put these tips and techniques into action with the proper amounts of concentration and practice. Let's cover some basics of how to give a foot massage.
Rub the Top of the Foot with Your Thumbs
Start at the tip of the toes and work your way up slowly towards the ankle. When you reach the top of the ankle, work your way back down towards the toes. While you are doing this, cup the foot in your hands and apply firm pressure with your thumbs. You will want to repeat this process 2 or 3 times. Make sure to keep the feet close to your chest area, with your body leaning toward the massage target. This ensures that you will be applying the correct amount of pressure on the foot.
It's important to remember to use the strength of your body weight rather than only the muscles in your thumbs. If you rely too heavily on your thumb muscles to apply pressure, they will cramp up and you won't be able to do a proper job.
Massage the Arches
Apply light pressure to the arch of the foot with your thumbs. Move one thumb counter-clockwise and the other clockwise in small circles for 30 seconds. Place your thumbs on opposite ends of the feet and move them towards each other. Move up and down the bottom of their feet, repeating this motion 3 to 5 times.
Take care to grip the feet firmly, with steady, firm pressure, as you are massaging. If you are too light with your touch, it can become ticklish and distracting. Also, make sure to ask if the person you are massaging has any sore spots on their feet. You want to avoid applying too much pressure on these sore areas.
Rub the Heels
The next step in your foot massage is to move your thumbs up and down along the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon runs from heel and ankle up to the calf muscle. While you are doing this, rub the heel of the foot in circular motions with your thumbs. In order to lift the heel, you may have to lift the foot with one hand. Make sure to apply massage lotion or oil when massaging this area as the skin tends to get hard and dry there. The oil will help reduce friction that irritates already dry skin.
Squeeze and Pull the Toes
Hold the foot in one hand just below the arch. Place your thumb on the big toe with your other hand. Ensure your index finger is underneath the big toe. Rotate each toe slightly to one side while pulling each toe from top to bottom. Make sure not to "yank" abruptly on the toes, however, as this could injure the person you are massaging. Make sure to squeeze each toe slightly while applying even pressure the whole time.
Focus on One Foot at a Time
While you are massaging one foot, leave the other foot relaxed on a pillow, wrapped in a warm towel, or soaking in warm water. Focus on one foot first before turning your attention to the other. Remember to repeat the same movements on each foot to create the best experience for the person you are massaging.
More Foot Massage Tips
- There are many diverse techniques for a foot massage, so use the ones that you feel the most comfortable with.
- When giving a massage, make sure the legs and feet are well supported on a flat surface to ensure the body is completely relaxed.
- Put towels in the dryer to warm them up before drying the feet.
- After the massage is over, make sure to remove any excess oil or lotion to avoid any slips or the discomfort of moist socks.
Practice and concentration, while applying proper techniques, are the keys to giving a foot massage properly. Foot massages can bring you closer to your partner and relieve stress or other ailments from friends or loved ones. Once you feel you have a good understanding of how to give a foot massage, always ask for feedback from the person you are massaging.