Feet are complex, with 1/4 of the bones in your body located there (26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons & ligaments). Women tend to have 4 times more foot problems (thanks, largely, from walking in high heeled shoes).
Speaking of walking, it is the best exercise for your feet, and we walk a lot. The average person will walk around 115,000 miles in a lifetime. That’s about 8-10,000 steps a day. It’s no wonder that 75% of Americans will experience foot problems at least once in their life.
The wonders and benefits of foot massage
With all that punishment, feet need a lot of care to keep them healthy. They get sore and tired. They get crampy and stiff. They can swell, sweat and ache. That’s where foot massage comes in.
A foot massage increases the circulation in your feet and helps your blood and lymph systems carry away toxins. The very process of a foot massage sends messages to the rest of your body to relax. Massaging the feet targets the rest of the body, too. Reflexology therapy helps correct imbalances in the body by stimulating specific areas of your feet. And proper and targeted stimulation of the feet can ease tension all over your body, especially your legs and lower back.
Foot massage feels good not only because you’ll feel your muscles relax, but the massage increases the release of hormones in your body that create relaxation and a sense of calm, and decrease the release of hormones that keep you tense and stressed.
Do it yourself
Regular foot massage about 10 minutes before going to bed can improve feelings of well being and relax nerves which can promote better sleep. Use purposeful, but gentle strokes and you can use warm massage oil or room temperature massage cream to make the massage even more effective.
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, receiving soothing foot (or hand) massages during a stressful time, such as after the death of a loved one, can help you deal with the stressful grieving period. Foot massage provides consolation, helping people to balance the need to grieve and adapt to changes in life.
Certain points on the feet are helpful in alleviating the symptoms of depression. For example, the spot in the center of the big toe, the spot at the center of the ball of your foot or the ball of the foot located under the big toe are associated with emotional stability and mental health. Massaging these points or applying pressure to them for a few minutes 2 or 3 times a day can help relieve symptoms of depression.
A professional foot massage
Most professional therapists incorporate some foot massage in total body massage sessions. Putting yourself in the skilled hands of a therapist is much more effective than foot massage machines or doing it yourself. A good foot massage may start or end with a foot bath and/or skin exfoliation, and include targeted work where therapists use their thumbs and fingertips to focus on specific areas of the top, bottom, heel and toes of the feet to provide the greatest relaxation.
When seeking an effective massage experience, for feet or any other body part, make sure you screen your therapist carefully to make sure they are qualified. They should have, and be able to show, a license or certificate, and have over 500 hours of massage-specific education. They should have excellent communication skills, have a completely clean and safe work area, and ask you questions about your overall health and wellness before a session begins. Finally, when you leave, they should make some specific recommendations for continued care to keep your tootsies happy.