Foot Massage

Who gets their feet massaged?

Apparently, many people do.  Otherwise, how do you explain the existence of so many storefronts that offer foot massage services?

Personally, I have never had my feet massaged.   At least I don’t remember having them massaged.

I am not talking about a pedicure. I have had a pedicure.  Usually once every six months to cut my toenails.  Foot massages focus on relaxation and therapeutic benefits through massage techniques, while pedicures primarily address grooming and cosmetic concerns. A pedicure typically includes soaking the feet in warm water, trimming and shaping the nails, exfoliating the skin, removing calluses and rough patches, moisturizing, and applying nail polish if desired.

But I have never had a foot massage.  Well, that all changed the other day when I stopped at a foot massage storefront and asked to get my feet massaged.

You may be asking why, after all these years of not getting my feet massaged, why, why would I decide to get my feet massaged now.  Why?

Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that my feet have been bothering me for some time.  My right foot is ok, but my big toe is sore at times and my second toe, the one next to the big toe, is painful on occasion.  It is a little too long I think.  And it consistently gets mangled by the third toe, whose toenail digs into the second toe.  TMI.  Too much information.

And that is the good foot!  The left foot is a whole other story.  My left foot has been bothering me for a few years.  I have gone to physical therapy to try to make the left foot function better and feel better.  A left swollen ankle presumably from blood collecting there.  An arch that has flattened out over the years.  Tendons are hurting especially the posterior and anterior tibial tendons.   Bottom line, the left foot is not as strong as the right foot and there is more pain too.

To put my foot pain and discomfort into perspective, the good news is that to the best of my knowledge I do not have any heel bone spurs, or bunions and corns, or Plantar fasciitis, or any issues with my Achilles tendon, or any bone fractures.

This is probably more information than you wanted or needed to have.  For sure.

However, for me this random stop at a foot massage establishment – my first foot massage — piqued my curiosity.

The primary goal of a foot massage is to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and alleviate tension in the feet and lower legs. Additionally, foot massages can improve circulation, relieve pain and discomfort, and promote overall health and well-being.

Foot massages have a rich history having been practiced for centuries in various cultures around the world.

  • Ancient Origins: Foot massage has roots in ancient civilizations such as China, Egypt, and India.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the feet are considered a microcosm of the body, and stimulating specific points on the feet is believed to promote healing and balance within the body.
  • Ancient Greece and Rome: Foot massage was also practiced in ancient Greece and Rome, where it was often associated with relaxation and pleasure..
  • Modern Development: In the 20th century, interest in foot massage and reflexology has experienced a resurgence in the Western world. Reflexology as a distinct therapeutic practice has gained popularity, with practitioners refining techniques and developing standardized protocols for treatment. Today, foot massage and reflexology are widely practiced in spas, wellness centers, and massage clinics around the world.

The techniques used in foot massages focus on stimulating the muscles, nerves, and energy pathways in the feet to release tension and promote relaxation.  These techniques include:

  • Kneading: This involves applying pressure and gently kneading the soft tissues of the foot, similar to kneading dough. It helps to release tension and promote relaxation.
  • Rubbing: Massaging the foot with circular motions using the palms, thumbs, or fingers can help to stimulate blood flow and alleviate stiffness.
  • Stretching: Some techniques involve gently stretching the foot and ankle to improve flexibility and relieve tightness.
  • Applying Pressure Points: Reflexology, a technique based on the principle that specific points on the feet correspond to different organs and systems in the body, involves applying pressure to these points to promote overall health and well-being.

What Is foot reflexology?  Reflexology is a type of therapy that uses gentle pressure on specific points along your feet to help you feel better. The theory is that this eases stress, and that helps your body work better. It’s also known as zone therapy.  The main concept of reflexology is that different areas of the feet are linked to specific body parts, and that putting pressure on one area of the foot can have an effect on the organ that it corresponds with.

Reflexology can stimulate energy, blood, nutrition, or nerves, resulting in therapeutic effects, including relieving mental stress, detoxifying the body, promoting blood circulation, losing weight, delaying aging, and improving internal health.

To be clear, my first foot massage that I had the other day did not include reflexology.  I have had one experience with foot reflexology in my life many years ago, and i can attest to the fact that there are certain points in the bottom of your feet that definitely do connect with certain organs in your body.  But that is a story for another time.

There are at least three theories behind foot reflexology.

  • One theory that dates back to the 19th century suggests that reflexology works by stimulating the nervous system. Pressing on areas of the feet in a calming way stimulates the nerves there, which sends a message to the central nervous system. This helps to relax the body and has positive effects on your breathing, blood flow, immune response, and more.
  • Another theory suggests that reflexology helps offset the way that your brain registers pain. When your feet are massaged, the relaxing sensations may help relieve stress and improve your mood, which may make you less inclined to perceive pain as deeply.
  • Still another theory suggests that your body contains “vital energy” that is affected by stress. If you don’t work to relieve the stress, your body may not work as well as it should, which may lead to aches or illness. Reflexology is thought to help you maintain the flow of vital energy through your body.

Reflexology also triggers the release of endorphins and enkephalins.  Enkephalins is a word I have never run into before.  Enkephalins are like natural painkillers that your body produces. They’re special chemicals that help you feel less pain. They work by blocking pain signals in your brain and spinal cord.

The history of foot massage reflects its enduring popularity and the recognition of its therapeutic benefits across diverse cultures and civilizations. There appears to be a thriving market for foot massage services, ranging from traditional massage parlors to spas, wellness centers, and even mobile massage services. With the growing interest in alternative and holistic health practices, it’s likely that the foot massage industry will continue to expand in the future.

Bottom line, my feet still give me pain from time to time.  I continue daily to do the exercises that my physical therapist has recommended.  It has helped, but I am hoping for even more relief.

Maybe I will try another foot massage and see if it makes me feel better.  In addition, maybe I will experiment with foot reflexology.  Maybe I will give it a try.



3 thoughts on “Foot Massage”

  1. After enduring 2 detached anterior tibialis tendons and surgery for their reattachment coupled with chronic plantar fasciitis and now Charcot foot, I hear you. Now you know why I had to give up dancing, Pickleball and Golf. Thanks to modern medicine, orthopedic surgeons and custom shoe inserts I*m still able to enjoy walking. Never give up!

  2. Neil, in Edmonton, I always went for reflexology, at least once a month. It was the best $$$$$ I have ever spent, on anything. Now where we are, I can’t find a reflexologist. A foot massage, I agree, is totally different, but both are nice, but reflexology has more benefits. It is very important to use your toes, individually too,to keep stretching them out, and raising and lowering them. Foot exercises are so necessary, In aging, its also helpful for proper balance, to prevent falls. Check out Miranda Esmonde White essentrics programs-she is always on facebook, and you can join a class-on T.V. But I have some of her dvd’s, and use them all the time. its basically stretching, which is so important. Order one of her dvd’s, and you will be a “happy camper’. Now that I am recovering from my hip surgery, I will do every day-only about 22 minutes-but so worth it. Just to keep mobile. Give it a try, and let me know how you do.

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