While many people incorrectly use the term foot massage as a catchall term to encompass anything that involves rubbing the feet, the truth is there are several different techniques that can be used to give a foot massage. For centuries, foot massage has been used to reduce stress, heal illness and improve circulation. For many cultures, their own specific foot massage techniques are still widely used to do so today.
Traditional Thai Foot Massage
Traditional Thai foot massage is an ancient massage technique that focuses on stretching and massaging the feet, hands and legs with the goal of clearing the energy lines of the body. While a masseuse can use his or her hands to perform the foot massage, more often a stick is used to stimulate pressure or reflex points on the feet. In Thai culture, it is believed that each area of the foot corresponds to a specific body part, and by applying pressure to a specific area of the foot, the corresponding body part will be stimulated. The result of the foot massage should be increased health, activity and function to the body.
Reflexology is based on the Chinese foot massage technique that is more than 5,000 years old. Reflexology is similar to traditional Thai massage in that its goal is to increase energy flow or “life force” throughout the body. As with Thai foot message, specific pressure points or reflex points are stimulated to increase the flow throughout the body. In reflexology, the masseuse uses his or her hands to apply the pressure to the feet.
Swedish Foot Massage
Common foot massage, or Swedish foot massage as it’s also known, is a massage technique that uses hand strokes on the feet to stimulate blood flow and circulation. Oil, cream or lotion is applied to the feet to decrease friction before the masseuse starts the massage. There are six major stokes in foot massage. These include sweeping, rubbing, thumb walking, toe rotation, kneading and cupping. This type of foot massage technique is the most common type of foot massage in North America.