According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, nearly 40% of Americans say they experience foot pain at least once a year.
Foot pain can be caused by things like wearing uncomfortable shoes or standing on your feet all day, and it can make it hard to enjoy things you love to do like exercise or running.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce foot pain, foot massages are one way you can improve your circulation, as well as relax your body and mind. Here are 10 steps that will show you how to give yourself the best foot massage ever!
Step 1: Get into a comfy position
Although you can give yourself a foot massage just about anywhere, it’s best to get into a comfortable position for working on your feet. Lie down, sit on a chair with good back support, or get into a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you.
Use your arms and shoulders to comfortably prop up your lower body from below. This way, you don’t have to work against gravity or strain any joints as you massage your feet.
If you plan on giving yourself several foot massages during pregnancy, consider purchasing an inexpensive foot massage pillow (see tip #4). I bought one and it was worth every penny! It makes giving myself pedicures so much easier and is great for relaxing my ankles after long periods of standing at work.
Step 2: Start rubbing
With a good amount of pressure, rub your right foot using circular motions. You can press down with your fingers or use tools (like a tennis ball or a rolling pin) as you rub. Switch feet every few minutes and notice how they feel as you do so.
Take note of any sore spots and repeat step 2 on those areas until you feel relief. Most of all, remember that there’s no wrong way to give yourself a foot massage—just find what feels best for you!
Step 3: Apply pressure using your thumbs
Place your thumbs at either end of your foot and begin applying pressure towards the center of your foot. Start with light pressure and work your way up; apply more as you get used to it. Move back and forth along each side of your foot, in one direction for 5 minutes, then reverse directions for 5 minutes.
Repeat 3-4 times a day until you are accustomed to having a foot massage every day, with regular practice sessions every couple days or so after that. (You could also try using a tennis ball instead of or in addition to using your hands).
Step 4: Pause for a minute before starting again
Many people think that foot massages should be quick, but not so. In fact, it’s better if you let your feet rest for a minute or two between strokes. This gives them time to relax after one set of kneading, and get ready for another.
And it’s also an easy way to help yourself breathe deeply and find your focus again as you pause for a moment of peace before getting back into it!
Step 5: Work your way up from the bottom of the foot
Start by gently pressing your thumbs into your arch in a straight line from big toe to little toe. Then, press down each of your foot’s five metatarsals.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 on both feet. And if you really want to feel like you are indulging yourself in an at-home spa treatment, don’t forget that relaxation is important too: after all that hard work, give yourself a minute (or two) before moving on to massage Step 6—your toes.
Step 6: Roll each foot on its ball
Use your thumbs to roll over each foot at its widest point, between your heel and toes. Roll in both directions using a loose, rocking motion.
After you’ve done both feet, place each one on its side with your ankle tucked beneath you; take one hand and stretch each sole as far away from you as possible while keeping them parallel. Then reverse directions and pull each sole toward you. Repeat these two stretches two more times for a total of four times per foot.
Step 7: Press between each toe
Pressing along each of your 10 toes can help encourage blood flow and relax tense muscles, says Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of The Hormone Cure.
Begin at your pinky toe and press firmly along each toe, using slight variations in pressure as you go (such as pressing with more force on your big toe than on your other toes).
When you reach your big toe, gently press into its base from one side of the nail bed to another. Then gently pull back on all 10 toes at once before repeating steps 6 through 9 for each foot. This entire process should take about two minutes per foot for a total massage time of about 20 minutes.
Step 8: Use all five toes as you knead and massage
Even though your big toe is bigger and stronger than your other toes, you’ll need to use all five toes when you give yourself a foot massage. This will ensure that you get an even distribution of pressure across your foot.
Since massaging and kneading makes tight muscles feel better, try massaging different sections of your foot at different times; it might be more comfortable on tired legs if you first massage in one direction (like up and down) and then massage back in another direction (like side-to-side).
In general, avoid rubbing across joints (for example, rub from the inside of each toe toward its joint with another toe), but doing so may help reduce swelling.
Step 9: Finish with a relaxing foot soak or pedicure.
Now that you’ve set your feet up for success, treat them well with a relaxing foot soak or pedicure. If you don’t have access to a nail salon and would like some tips on DIY pedicures, read our post on five easy steps for an at-home pedicure.
But honestly, nothing beats a good massage in terms of reducing stress and tension in your body and mind—which is exactly what you want your feet to feel when you are done being ticklish!
Get ready for that feeling of calm by immersing them in warm water before having a loved one or partner rub oil or lotion into their soles. Give yourself time after giving yourself a foot massage so they can really work their magic! You deserve it!
A good foot massage can offer you some much-needed rest and relaxation, not to mention a truly holistic health approach. Your feet are where your whole body meets your environment—your most sensitive organs, including your brain, tendons, muscles and nerves all come together at your feet. It’s important to keep them in good shape if you want to stay healthy and active!