Why Do Foot Massagers Hurt?

It’s hard to find fault with foot massagers. If you have trouble sleeping, stiff back or legs, sore feet or even problems with varicose veins, it can be relaxing to put your feet up and let the device do all the work. However, what you might not realize is that your foot massager isn’t working like you think it should, and the problem might be that you aren’t using it properly! Here are 9 ways to get the most out of your foot massager so that it doesn’t hurt but rather helps your body stay healthy and comfortable.

1) Use it on feet with plantar fasciitis
If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, as many as 30 percent of people do, getting a good foot massage is critical. Plantar fasciitis occurs when small tears in the thick band of tissue—the plantar fascia—that stretches from your heel to your toes causes achy inflammation. The goal with self-massage is not just pain relief but also improved circulation in order to reduce inflammation and encourage more healing. Having someone else apply pressure while you relax can help improve circulation in areas that are difficult to reach on your own, like around tendons or other tight spots caused by stress or movement.

2) Choose a deep tissue massage
While some people may be tempted to dive right in and use their new device for all it’s worth, remember that too much too soon can make for sore feet. It’s best to ease into a deep tissue massage and work up from there; after all, you don’t want to press so hard you end up sore yourself! This is also a good time to talk about what we mean by deep tissue. While most of us have had some sort of foot massage in our lives, perhaps even at an expensive salon, what many people call a deep tissue massage might not be sufficient enough.

3) Follow instructions
Most foot massagers are designed with a simple on/off switch. You simply need to plug it in, set it to massage, and then press start. Don’t stop there, though. Make sure you read through all instruction manuals that come with your new gadget, including those for its proper use, care, and maintenance. It’s a good idea for you to follow each step so you can be sure you’re using it properly—and safely! For example, if your device comes with massage heads that have hot or cold features built in (or separate attachments), know how long you should use them before switching back over to regular massage mode.

4) Avoid burning yourself (literally)
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when using a foot massager is setting it on too high a level. Unlike other massaging gadgets, many automatic foot massage products are designed for long-term use. Your feet could end up stuck in a hot spot for much longer than you anticipated if you’re not careful. Start slowly and set your massage level low enough so that it still feels good after 10 minutes. Gradually increase power until you find just how strong your feet can take it!

5) Pick and choose the setting that works best for you
Different people prefer different levels of intensity. If you’re not a particularly strong person, going all-out from day one can be overwhelming. Instead, start with a lower setting and slowly work up from there. If you find that it hurts too much even at lower settings, try breaking up treatment into shorter segments throughout your day. Or stick with just one session every other day until things start to feel more normal again. (Feeling soreness immediately after using a new device is common; it doesn’t mean anything is wrong.) Remember: Moving too quickly can set you back and make recovery take longer than necessary.

6) Get Barefoot and Go Deeper
Don’t just stay on top of your feet. Get under them. If you have a deep tissue massage, you may have been told that you need to be on top of a table while getting it. Most experts believe that staying elevated takes away from the effectiveness and power behind a good deep tissue massage because it leaves too much space between surface level and where all those kinks are hiding underneath.

7) Don’t Overdo It
Overly stressing your feet with some types of massage can actually do more harm than good. For example, pressure point therapy is often lauded as a great treatment, but it can be painful and even leave bruises or other damage on your feet if done too vigorously. At best, pressure point foot massage feels like something akin to pins and needles; at worst, you feel pain during and after a session. Try looking for something gentler instead that doesn’t cause undue stress on your body—like reflexology or acupressure—for better results that won’t hurt over time.

8) Rub and Roll, Not Slam and Scrape
You can really hurt yourself using a foot massager if you don’t do it right. Many people go at their feet with a lot of aggression and end up hurting themselves in the process. Gentle pressure is usually all that’s needed, so focus on rubbing and rolling instead of slamming or scraping. Keep in mind that it takes time for circulation to increase. The more you use a product like that, though, and perform self-massage regularly, your toes will be as happy as can be!

9) Don’t Settle For Just Any Old Massage, Get An Appropriate One
First, pay attention to what you feel when using a foot massager. A good one won’t cause pain in any part of your feet and legs—it should be relaxing. But if it hurts, don’t use it! Those little motors and rolling balls can actually be damaging. If you have diabetes or neuropathy (nerve damage), for example, your nerves may not be able to handle being pressed on. If that’s true for you, then there are other options like foam rollers or a handheld massage tool that will work better for you. You might also want to look into getting an electric blanket or heating pad instead of an electric foot massager. These two things provide comfort by warming up your muscles and easing stiffness, but they won’t put pressure on them like a vibrating device would.

Final Word
If you’re like many of us, then chances are you take for granted just how incredible our feet are. Each and every day, we use them for everything from driving to standing in front of a classroom and everything in between. But when did you last treat yourself to some much-needed love from a professional foot massage therapist? If it’s been a while, then you might find that after receiving a professional pedicure treatment (including a basic manicure) your feet hurt more than they feel refreshed.

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Lynn has been writing at our blog for over two years. She currently writes about topics such as sleep, massage therapy, and cooking. Recently, she has teamed up with other bloggers to write about their life stories. Lynn is also a certified massage therapist who loves to express herself through cooking recipes she finds on Pinterest or food blogs. Lynn's blog is an outlet where she can share her passions with others while encouraging them to live the best version of themselves.

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