The first time I had a foot massage, I thought I’d just been transported to paradise. My sister-in-law, an accomplished foot reflexologist, gave me that massage while explaining why I had a few ouches when she applied pressure to various parts of my foot. After that foot massage I was sold.
This post is in two parts, the first explains how to do a foot massage, just in case you don’t have a handy sister-in-law reflexologist available. The second part will explain a little about foot reflexology including two true stories of its effectiveness. The really cool part is that the clinical evidence satisfies the scientist in me that tends to be skeptical of almost everything.
How to give yourself a foot massage
- Step 1 – Bathe your feet with a soothing foot bath. My post, “The Perfect Foot Bath – Soothe Hot, Tired, Sweaty Feet and Say Good-bye to Smelly Feet” will prime you perfectly for your foot massage.
- Step 2 – After your feet are dry, put a few drops of a light carrier oil into the palm of your hand and apply to one foot. If you’re not sure which carrier oils to use, review “Foot Massage Oil Recipe.”
- Step 3 – Wrap your hands around your foot and rub your foot gently starting at the toes and move your hands along your foot toward the ankle. Do this several times.
- Step 4 – With your hand wrapped around your foot, squeeze your foot gently starting at the toes and move toward your ankle. If you notice any soreness in one part of your foot, give that area a little more attention.
- Step 5 – Pull and twist each toe starting at the big toe.
- Step 6 – Press your thumbs into the bottom of your foot with one hand while your fingers press into the top of your foot.
- Step 7 – Repeat step 6 except this time roll your thumbs. Pretend you are drawing small circles on the bottom of your foot. Use this same action on up into the ankle area.
- Step 8 – Make fists and gently tap the tops and bottoms of your feet starting with the toes.
Once you have finished with one foot, move on to the other. It’s wonderful. You can check out this You Tube video that demonstrates this technique. If you have a flexibility problem, here’s another You Tube video demonstrating how to massage your feet using two tennis balls. I thought they were great.
Now let’s talk about foot reflexology
Simply put, foot reflexology associates areas of the foot with specific areas of the body. The theory is that by massaging the feet you can identify and treat various health problems. There are very few double blind placebo studies showing this to be true. However, one study indicated foot reflexology can relieve PMS symptoms. Another study “Changes of renal blood flow during organ-associated foot reflexology measured by color Doppler sonography” demonstrated improvement in blood flow to the kidney. Then there was the geriatric study, “Improving physical function and blood pressure in older adults through cobblestone mat walking: A randomized trial” demonstrating marked health improvements in seniors walking on cobblestone mats. Now we leave science and mosey into that grey cloud known as empirical evidence.
I used to have severe cramps with my period and very heavy blood flow. One day my boss asked me why I was so pale. I told her it was because of the pain. She then instructed me to sit on a stool. As I sat there, she applied pressure and massage to a spot on the inside my ankles. There was definitely quite a bit of pain associated with that massage, but a short time later, the cramps were gone.
Another personal experience I had with reflexology happened right after a Thanksgiving dinner. Lori, my daughter, ate a little too much that day causing her a stomach ache and severe nausea. I massaged and applied pressure to the bottom of her feet associated with the stomach area. She was up and playing shortly thereafter with no discomfort.
This was a guy that had such severe tinnitus (in his case it was a constant ringing in his ears). He had been to numerous doctors to no avail. He didn’t believe in foot reflexology, but went to a professional foot reflexologist out of desperation. The constant ringing was driving him nuts.
The reflexologist didn’t promise him that reflexology would work, but she told him if it didn’t, she would refund his money. I never asked him if the physicians he visited had offered a refund for failure to treat. Anyway, she had him lay on a table with his feet poking off the end and she proceeded to give him a treatment during which he fell asleep.
He told me that she let him sleep until he awoke a couple of hours later. His tinnitus was gone.
There, those are my stories and I’m sticking by them. Experience can make you a believer and I guess that puts me with the long list of people who can relate their own empirical evidence.
If you decide to try foot reflexology, count on some discomfort as the therapist probes for those sore spots. If the reflexologist promises no pain, s/he is not the reflexologist to see. Also, be sure and pick a reflexologist that has professional training in reflexology massage techniques and is certified.
You can also buy a book on the subject so you can self treat. There are a number of them out there. We’ve added “Complete Reflexology for Life” book to our Amazon store because we think it’s one of the best books on the subject. It was written by Barbara and Kevin Kunz who just happen to be the same two reflexologists you’ll find in the link below. They know their stuff.
Another good source of information on foot and hand reflexology can be found at http://www.reflexology-research.com. There’s lots of good information there. The site also has a great foot chart at http://www.reflexology-research.com/footchart.html.
Your hands also have the same areas associated with your body as your feet. Some say the ear also, but I don’t know a thing about that so I have nothing to share.
Now you know why all goddesses should have foot massages. They are oh so wonderful and relaxing. And as for foot reflexology, I think it’s worth a try with very few caveats. The most important being if you are pregnant. Be sure and let your reflexologist know because reflexology has been reported to help induce labor. Oh, and one other thing, you can supposedly produce the reflexology effect by wearing sandals designed for that purpose. They are knobby and theoretically produce the same effect as reflexology. I can’t buy that idea since they don’t cover all areas of the foot. Besides, I like to be comfortable when I walk. It takes enough discipline to drag me away from work long enough to take a walk as it is.
Now go have fun and relax.