Foot massages date back to roughly 4,000 years ago in China as part of ancient traditional medicine and has the same principles as acupuncture.
Many of us unwind with a foot massage every now and then, particularly after a long day of standing up and walking around, when our feet tend to swell up. Sure, everyone enjoys it, but what are its other benefits aside from relaxing us and relieving some of the pain?
Let us take a look at some of the benefits of foot massage that are supported by actual scientific research – benefits that are either immediate or can be seen and felt after a couple of weeks, even with as little as two to three sessions per week.
Improves circulation. Due to a mostly sedentary lifestyle we have become unaccustomed to using our muscles on a regular basis. The muscles in the feet get hardly any exercise and circulation is often impaired by wearing tight and uncomfortable shoes. A 10–20 minute massage session before going to bed can greatly improve circulation in the lower extremities, which is particularly important for people suffering from diabetes.
Helps prevent foot and ankle injuries. Massaging the feet can help with joint pain and aid recovery after an injury, as well as reduce muscle soreness. However, when massage is combined with foot and ankle strengthening exercises, stretching can prevent future injuries and speed up recovery of existing injuries. A short session three to five times a week will ensure that you minimize the risk of injury. We all have our moments of clumsiness, but a strengthened and flexible ankle and foot ensures that we can avoid unpleasant injuries.
Reduces the effects of depression and anxiety. Looking at some of the studies that have been done on the effects of reflexology, it seems that this type of foot massage goes beyond simply putting people in a relaxed state for the duration of the massage. Frequent sessions have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety in cancer patients. The techniques can be learned fairly quickly and can serve as an effective way of dealing with depression and anxiety.
Cranks up your sex life. We don’t presume to know what floats your boat as a couple, but if you take some massage oil, a few scented candles and light music in addition to a gentle and loving foot massage, we’d be surprised if the mood won’t give way to a night of passionate lovemaking. 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 is a great form of foreplay. The feet are a great starting point since they can cause mild arousal and offer easy transition to more powerful erogenous zones like the backs of the knees and inner thighs.
For headaches and migraines. A study conducted in Denmark showed that people suffering from headaches and migraines showed great improvement after receiving reflexology treatments. The test subjects stopped taking their medication, and three months after completing their treatments, 65 percent had reduced symptoms while a small number had been cured. It is believed that those who had reflexology foot massages managed to make additional positive lifestyle changes that may have contributed to their impressive results.
Lowers blood pressure. High blood pressure has become fairly common in men and women in today’s modern world. It can be caused by a number of things such as stress and an unhealthy diet, but in most cases it has no particular cause and is believed to be a result of environmental factors and genetics. A study conducted on healthcare staff working with elderly people suffering from dementia – a job that is highly stressful and both physically and mentally taxing – showed that a 10-minute foot massage n up to three times a week resulted in improved mood, less anxiety and lower blood pressure.
Helps alleviate symptoms of PMS and menopause. 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.
Reduces effects of edema in pregnant women. Swelling due to fluid retention in the feet and ankles, or edema, 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.
As you can see, a foot massage is a lot more beneficial to both physical and mental health than most people realize. Although professional massages can sometimes be a bit costly, there are plenty of resources available online that can help you learn a thing or two about the different styles of foot massage. It only takes some 10–20 minutes a few times a week, so you and your significant other can reap the tremendous benefits of foot massage without a lot of work.