For many foot problems, massage is a useful therapy. It can be done at home or by a professional.
Home Massage Techniques
Foot massage may be needed for those who work on their feet, athletes, after a long day at work, or for spa-like pampering. There are many methods to employ for foot massage at home. It would be best if the person receiving the massage can sit in a comfortable chair with their feet up, or on their back, at first. If the person is lying down, they will turn over on their stomach for different parts of the feet and ankles to be massaged. The area under the feet should be covered with a towel so that massage oils don’t damage the footrest or floor. Before beginning the massage, the feet should be soaked in warm water for several minutes, then toweled dry. Essential oils can be added to the foot bath for relaxation if desired. Creams work well for massaging the feet as they are thicker in consistency than lotions. Oils may also be used during the massage. Common scents include lavender, almond, vanilla, and eucalyptus. It is more comfortable for the person receiving the massage to have the creams or oils warmed in advance. The practitioner can begin by using both hands to hold the bottom of the foot, starting the rubbing motions at the top and working down to the sole, applying more pressure towards the sole. Then the motions can be reversed, ending with less pressure at the top of the foot. Next, the heel of the foot could be rubbed, using the thumbs to make circles. This motion can be repeated on the balls of the feet. Cross-friction massage is a technique that can also be performed on the heels, using the “thumbs to push up and down on the heel” in an alternating motion. It is important to include the ankle bone in the massage, rubbing with the fingers in a circular, gentle motion. The fist is also a good massage tool, especially for the arch of the foot, which can apply adequate pressure. The fist should be rolled back and forth. Last, but not least, toes can be individually massaged gently, at the tips of toes and between the toes at the base.1 There are also many home devices available that offer different types of foot massage, such as rockers, rollers, shiatsu kneading massagers, vibrating water massagers, and ones with heat and variable speeds.2 Epsom salt baths are also helpful for relaxing sore feet. The salts, made of magnesium sulfate, actually get absorbed into the skin, and they may be used to restore these important nutrients to the body.3
Professional Foot Massage
Professional massage therapists can also offer the relief of a foot massage. They are trained to “reduce stress and ease tight muscles”. Massage also increases relaxation, improves circulation, and can help to manage pain.4 Some chiropractic offices offer massage therapy, and chiropractors can also give advice about exercise, stretches, supplements, posture, shoes, and orthotics. In some chiropractic offices, an ionic detoxification foot bath and reflexology services are offered. The detoxification could help to remove the body’s toxins. Reflexology is touch therapy that applies pressure to areas of the feet that “correspond to organs, glands and other parts of the body”, and it is an alternative therapy thought to reduce stress, clean toxins, improve circulation, and induce relaxation.5 Custom orthotics are offered by many chiropractors to help prevent foot pain.
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