We all know that a short foot massage every now and then can really help us relax, particularly after a long day of standing up and walking around, when our feet tend to swell up. Sure, everyone enjoys it, but does it really have any benefits other than making us feel a bit more relaxed and relieving some of the pain?
Massage techniques vary in their promise of health benefits. Traditional therapeutic techniques focus on relaxing muscles and joints; acupressure seeks to improve general health and energy flow by acting on specific pressure points; aromatherapy adds another element of relaxation by acting on multiple senses; and reflexology seeks to improve internal organ function by massaging specific areas of the foot.
There are numerous claims, some of which are quite outrageous, about what a simple massage can do for you, but there is very little evidence to back them up. We’ll look at some of the foot massage benefits that are supported by actual scientific research – benefits that are either immediate or can be seen and felt after a few weeks, even with as few as two to three sessions per week.
9 Health Benefits of Foot Massage
1. Improve Circulation
We have become accustomed to not using our muscles on a regular basis as a result of our mostly sedentary lifestyle. The muscles in the feet receive little exercise, and circulation is frequently hampered by tight and uncomfortable shoes.
A 10-20 minute massage session before bed can significantly improve circulation in the lower extremities, which is especially important for diabetics.
2. Help Prevent Foot and Ankle Injuries
Massage of the feet can help with joint pain and injury recovery, as well as reduce muscle soreness. Massage, when combined with foot and ankle strengthening exercises and stretching, can help to prevent future injuries and speed up recovery from existing ones.
A short session of 3 to 5 times per week will ensure that you avoid injury. We all have clumsy moments, but having a strong and flexible ankle and foot ensures that we avoid painful injuries.
3. Alleviate the Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
Looking at some of the research on the effects of reflexology, it appears that this type of foot massage goes beyond simply relaxing people for the duration of the massage.
It has been demonstrated that frequent sessions significantly reduce anxiety in cancer patients. The techniques are simple to learn and can be used to effectively deal with depression and anxiety.
4. Help with Headaches and Migraines
A Danish study found that people suffering from headaches and migraines improved significantly after receiving reflexology treatments. The test subjects stopped taking their medications, and three months later, 65% had reduced symptoms and a small number had been cured.
It is thought that those who received reflexology foot massages were able to make additional positive lifestyle changes, which may have contributed to their impressive results.
5. Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has become fairly common in both men and women in modern times. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress and an unhealthy diet, but in most cases it has no specific cause and is thought to be the result of environmental and genetic factors.
A study of healthcare workers who work with elderly people suffering from dementia – a job that is both physically and mentally demanding – found that a 10-minute foot massage session three times a week resulted in improved mood, less anxiety, and lower blood pressure.
6. Help with Flat Feet and Plantar Fasciitis
Because of ligament laxity, people with flat feet do not have a normal foot arch, causing the arch to collapse. Although it may not have a significant impact on a person, some people experience foot pain after even light physical activity due to flat feet. Inflammation or deterioration of the plantar fascia (the connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot) can also cause chronic heel pain.
Regular foot exercise combined with deep massage (applying strong pressure to the arch) can significantly reduce pain and even cure these conditions.
7. Help in the Relief of PMS and Menopausal Symptoms
The most common symptoms suffered during PMS include feelings of sadness and unhappiness, irritability, anxiety, tension, insomnia, fatigue, headaches and mood swings. Most of these symptoms can be alleviated with daily foot massages during this period.
In the same vein, symptoms of menopause, which are similar to those suffered during PMS with the addition of hot flashes and depression, can be effectively minimized with regular massages.
8. Reduce the Effects of Pregnancy Edema
Edema, that is, swelling due to fluid retention in the feet and ankles, is very common in pregnant women, mostly in the last trimester. This condition can be combated by massaging the feet on a daily basis, coupled with plenty of rest and the right diet.
9. Help Improve Your Sex Life
A foot massage is a selfless gift to your significant other; it helps them forget about minor annoyances they’ve had to deal with throughout the day, and it’s a great form of foreplay.
The feet are an excellent place to begin because they can cause mild arousal and provide an easy transition to more powerful erogenous zones such as the back of the knees and inner thighs.
All it takes is some massage oil, scented candles, and soft music to create the ideal atmosphere for a night of passionate lovemaking.
Foot massage is far more beneficial to both physical and mental health than most people realize.
Although professional massages can be expensive at times, there are numerous resources available online that can help you learn about the various styles of foot massage.
It only takes 10-20 minutes a few times a week, so you and your significant other can reap the many benefits of foot massage without putting in a lot of effort.
Featured photo credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya via unsplash.com