Considering that our feet bear the physical burden of each step in our day, it should be no surprise that foot massages can ease the tension and soreness of the feet almost immediately. Foot massages promote circulation, reduce cramping and help soften tense foot muscles. Foot massages not only help the feet relax, they help the whole person relax as he feels the stress being rubbed away.
Foot massages are given all over the world, but all foot massages aren’t the same. Chinese foot massages are based on the principles of reflexology that correlate pressure points of the feet with energy flow to the rest of the body. In a Chinese foot massage, the masseuse targets the pressure points on the feet. Thai foot message also pays attention to the pressure points, but the maseuse uses a stick rather than hands to give the massage.
In North America, the most common type of foot massage is based on Swedish massage. This is a technique that focuses on the soft tissue of the entire foot. The masseuse rubs the tissue with various amounts of pressure to increase circulation. The masseuse uses his thumb, palm, fist and knuckles to give a Swedish foot massage.
In addition to increasing circulation, foot massage promotes immunity by stimulating the lymph system to help expel wastes and toxins from the body. Foot massage also can help decrease the levels of stress and blood pressure by promoting relaxation. Foot massages can also help decrease pain because massage promotes the release of endorphins, which serve as the body’s natural painkillers. In women, foot massage can also be beneficial in helping to reduce bloating and cramping in menstruating women.
Many people incorrectly use the terms foot massage and reflexology interchangeably. Reflexology is a massage that specifically targets areas of the feet with pressure based on the idea that specific areas of the feet mirror other areas of the body. For example, in reflexology the four smallest toes on each foot mirror the eyes, sinuses and brain, so massaging those toes is believed to have a positive impact on the body parts they mirror. Both Thai and Chinese techniques are based on the principles of reflexology. When people use the term foot massage, they are most often referring to Swedish foot massage, the most popular type of foot massage. The technique for Swedish foot massage is not based on the principles of reflexology but rather focuses on massaging the soft tissue of the whole foot.
Regardless of what type of foot massage you choose, if you’ll be paying for a foot massage, it’s important that you choose a massage therapist that is licensed to practice the type of foot massage you desire. Discuss the descriptions of each foot massage offered and your expectations of the foot massage before selecting your service.
You can purchase the tools to give yourself a good foot massage at home. There are foot massagers that can be put inside the bathtub to give a luxurious aqua massage. These massages use water jets to apply pressure to the feet. Aqua massagers can also be stand alone and used while sitting in a chair. There are also foot massagers that you place your feet into and they operate by squeezing the feet at different pressure levels and intervals. You can also purchase a handheld massager that pulsates or vibrates as you massage your feet with it.