Are you running out of gift ideas for your friend, family member, sweetheart, etc? Here’s something special you won’t find on a retail shelf that nearly everyone is looking for—the gift of relaxation. Help someone else relax: Give a foot massage.
By give, I don’t mean “pay for.” I mean learn some basics and give someone a relaxing, basic foot massage yourself.
If you look up the best way to give a foot massage, you’ll find instructions more detailed than those needed to assemble a gas grill. But there are some basics that seem to apply across the board. And ‘basic’ is what we’re after here.
Personally, I wouldn’t get too carried away on the benefit claims you’ll find. Some foot massage proponents suggest that they’ll alleviate headaches, insomnia, fatigue and dizziness. And if you spend time looking into reflexology, you’ll find claims that reflexology foot massage treats the underlying cause of liver, kidney and heart disease, not to mention high blood pressure. One source I found claimed a foot massage could treat the cause of “virtually any disease known to man.” Not surprisingly, scientific studies disagree, and I tend to side with the researchers. Just disregard the claims. A foot massage simply feels good. It’s relaxing, too. Isn’t that good enough to run with?
How to Give a Foot Massage: The Basics
Have the recipient wash his or her feet. It’s the least he or she can do.
No pain! Firm touch is good, but don’t twist or press to cause pain.
No tickling, even as a joke. Remember that a foot massage is supposed to be a relaxing gift.
If it feels good, do it.
Hold and support the foot firmly. The recipient shouldn’t have to use muscles to support the foot or leg.
For starters, use oil or lotion to avoid friction and too much pulling against the skin. Rub it between your hands first to warm the lotion before applying.
As a warm-up, gently massage the nooks and crannies around the ankle to soothe and relax the ligaments that support the foot all day. Gently rub the rest of the foot to warm it up and get full coverage.
Decompress the foot. Support the ankle with one hand, and wrap the other around the foot. With a squeezing or wiping motion, pull your hand along the foot from heel to the arch and then to the toes. Do that motion several times. Then do the same for each toe, gently pulling from base to the tip of the toe, one at a time.
Then hold the foot with sole facing you. Fingers support the top of the foot so that the thumbs can press into the soles. Starting at the heel, gently press thumbs into the sole and push toward the toes, maybe two inches at a time. Press and release. Press and release. Work your way up the center of the foot until you reach the toes. Then start over and use the same techniques on the outside of the soles, inside and outside.
Now, one at a time, hold the toe and gently rotate it. Remember, gently. No pain. Turn and squeeze each toe and then move to another.
1. Throughout, help circulation in the foot by squeezing and releasing. Squeezing and releasing. This motion moves blood in and out of the foot.
2. Make a fist and press it into the sole of the foot. Rotate it a bit to work knuckles into the sole the way you would knead dough. With that motion, work from one end of the foot to the other.
Advanced Foot Massage Technique
Follow the bones of the foot from the toes up to the point where those bones meet the rest of the foot bones. This area tends to collect a great deal of pressure during the day. With your fingertips, press and rotate to loosen those joints. With the other hand, slowly and gently press the toes downward while continuing to rub that area. Once you start moving toes, you should be very cautious that you’re not pushing too hard or extending the toes too far.
With a warm, damp washcloth, wipe the foot down. It’s relaxing and cleans off any excess lotion.
But, wait. There’s more. You have one more foot to go.
Once you’ve finished up, you’ll have given a wonderful relaxing gift and helped someone special relax. And lest I sound too altruistic, you’ll have earned some big points.
Payback is heaven.