Our poor feet…day after day many of us tread along without giving them much thought let alone a good massage. We’re so wrapped up in our to-do list and meeting the demands placed on us that we forget how important our tootsies are to keeping us productive and limber.
Those of us who visit the occasional nail salon or spa understand the importance of keeping our feet healthy and could probably share some valuable insight, but what about the rest of us? Admittedly, this writer isn’t too adept at practicing foot care, which led to the creation of this (hopefully) valuable article.
Science has shed some insight on why foot massages are healthy, not only for our feet but also for our overall wellbeing. Contrary to popular belief, a foot massage has numerous health benefits. Let’s go over them individually and shed some light on these benefits.
A quick 10 to 15 minute massage each night:
This is especially true for those of us who work in a traditional, sedentary office environment. If this is the case, foot muscles rarely get any type of exercise. However, a quick massage session before heading off to bed helps improve blood flow in our lower extremities. Aside from giving our feet a quick massage, we can also ensure that we’re wearing comfortable shoes to help improve circulation.
Helps prevent injuries
Perhaps this has happened: we’re walking along just as we normally do, one foot in front of the other, when all of a sudden we twist an ankle or get a painful cramp. A short foot massage each night can help strengthen foot and ankle muscles and lower the risk of incurring these types of sudden injuries. For added benefit, slowly rotate the foot around the ankle to relax and strengthen these muscles.
Lowers blood pressure
In addition to improving blood flow, a short foot massage each night will help counteract rising blood pressure. The numbers of individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure are rising, partly due to increased stress and other environmental factors. In a promising study conducted at the University of Miami, dementia patients that received a 10-minute foot massage up to three times a week reported improved mood and lowered anxiety. Tests were taken that reported a decrease in these patients blood pressure as well.
Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
Studies that have been conducted in the field of reflexology show that frequent, short massages can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. One study revealed that varicose vein patients receiving reflexology treatment reported decreased anxiety while also shortening pain duration. In another study of postmenopausal women, reflexology and foot massage also reduced feelings of anxiety and depression.
Alleviates headache pain
In one study of patients suffering from headaches and migraines, reflexology and foot massage helped reduce the symptoms of headache pain. In Denmark, the subjects even ceased taking their medication to test this hypothesis. Just three months after completing the regimen, 65% of patients reported reduced symptoms while a small percentage of patients had their symptoms relieved completely.
Aids plantar fasciitis and flat feet
People that have flat feet (raises hand) don’t have normal arching of the feet due to “ligament laxity.” While this often doesn’t have many (if any) noticeable physical effects, it can eventually result in foot pain. Further, people that suffer from plantar fasciitis – pain and inflammation of tissue in the heel – also benefit from short, frequent foot massages. In some cases, massaging the feet each night before bed can help alleviate – in some instances cure – chronic pain due to these conditions.
Alleviates symptoms of PMS and menopause
Most of the commonly felt symptoms of PMS – anxiety, fatigue, headaches, mood swings, irritability, unhappiness and headaches – can be alleviated with short, nightly foot massages. Menopausal symptoms are generally similar and can also be minimized by nightly foot massages.
Reduces effects of edema
Edema is a health condition that results in excess fluid that concentrates in the cavities and tissues of the body. A very common condition during the late stages of pregnancy, the effects of edema can be counteracted by short and frequent foot massages. It should be noted that a healthy diet and adequate rest are also beneficial in minimizing the effects of edema.
This is more for the male readers, although women are welcome to take this nugget of wisdom into consideration as well. A foot massage is a simple, selfless, no-cost act of love that can strengthen the bond between two people. Physically, the feet are an erogenous part of the body that can really help to ignite passion as well.
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on how foot massages can help bolster our physical and mental health. Taking a bit of time to learn how to care for our feet is both worthwhile and valuable.