Foot Health

Health benefits of foot massage

Our feet are our foundation, but they are sorely neglected. A healing foot massage is one way to pamper and care for the feet and benefit the whole body. The use of foot massage dates back over 5,000 years to ancient Egypt and China and can offer many health benefits. The most common foot massage is traditional therapeutic techniques, which focus on relaxing the muscles and joints. There are other techniques like acupressure, aromatherapy and even reflexology that target other parts of the foot and leg and offer other benefits as well.

The following are some benefits of foot massage:

Relaxation and stress relief: Most types of massage can be relaxing and help with stress relief. Many people tend to consider the neck, shoulders and back as the primary places to massage when looking for stress relief. But a foot massage can be just as effective at easing your worries. A 2013 research found that people experienced lower levels of anxiety and better moods after just 10 minutes of a foot massage. Even a five-minute massage helped to relax and reduce stress and a foot rub brought emotional comfort to those grieving the death of a loved one.

Improves circulation: Due to a sedentary lifestyle, the muscles in the feet get little exercise, and blood flow to the feet can be slowed by disease or tight and uncomfortable shoes. A 10-to-20-minute massage can greatly improve circulation in the lower extremities.

Better sleep: Massaging your feet before you go to bed will help you relax and let go of the stresses of the day, which encourages a good night’s sleep.

Prevent foot and ankle injuries: Massaging the feet can help with joint pain and recovery after an injury, as well as reduce muscle soreness. However, when massage is combined with foot and ankle strengthening and stretching exercises, it can prevent future injuries, as well as speed up healing of existing injuries. Short massage sessions are recommended to help decrease the risk of injury.

Reduces the effects of depression and anxiety: Foot massage has been shown to decrease anxiety in patients with menopause and even cancer. Having regular massage sessions and adding essential oils has also been effective.

Helps with headaches and migraines: A study conducted in Denmark showed that people suffering from headaches and migraines showed great improvement after receiving reflexology foot massage and were able to add additional positive lifestyle changes.

Lowers blood pressure: High blood pressure is common and can be improved by a foot massage. A study conducted on healthcare staff showed that a 10-minute foot massage session up to three times a week resulted in improved mood, less anxiety and lowered blood pressure.

Helps with flat feet and plantar fasciitis: Flat feet contribute to pain in the foot and even development of plantar fasciitis and lead to chronic heel pain due to inflammation or deterioration of the plantar fascia. Supportive footwear, regular foot exercise and deep foot massage have been shown to significantly lessen the pain and improve the condition.

Helps alleviate symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and menopause: Common symptoms suffered during PMS such as sadness and unhappiness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, headaches and mood swings, can be relieved with foot massage. Women going through menopause may experience hot flashes and even depression. Most of these symptoms can be alleviated with daily foot massages.

Reduces effects of edema in pregnant women: Swelling due to fluid retention in the feet and ankles is very common in pregnant women. Daily foot massage can greatly help and manage this, especially in the third trimester. It also relieves the swelling and relaxes the feet, encouraging plenty of rest.

As you can see, foot massage is a lot more beneficial to both physical and mental health than most people realize. It only takes 10 to 20 minutes a few times a week to get the benefits of a foot massage.

Tips on giving a therapeutic foot massage:

• Sitting comfortably, bend one of your legs and rest your foot on the opposite thigh.

• Gently rub a natural massage oil of your choice into your skin and nails, and massage the whole foot including the toes, arch and heel.

• To do a deeper massage, press the knuckles of your hand into your foot and knead it (like it’s a piece of dough)! You can also work the skin and muscles by holding your foot with both hands and pressing your thumbs into the skin.

• Then, gently pull the toes back and forth or apart to stretch the muscles 

underneath.

• Repeat on the other foot.

Learn these simple skills and perform them regularly to enjoy and reap the benefits of foot massage without a lot of work.

• For more information on foot conditions, visit www.apma.org, healthcentral.com, or email us at foothealth242@gmail.com. To see a podiatrist, visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, or telephone 325-2996 for an appointment at Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Hilltop Medical, or call 394-5820 for an appointment. You can also visit Lucayan Medical Centre in Freeport, Grand Bahama, or telephone 373-7400 for an appointment.

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