Feet ache for many reasons -- standing too long, walking too much, poorly fitted shoes or minor injuries. A good foot massage can help feet feel better, but professional massages can be expensive or inconvenient. With just a little massage oil, you can relax your feet, stretch and soothe the muscles, and reduce swelling that causes pain. Trigger-point massage involves looking for tender spots in your feet and pressing on them while stretching and flexing your feet. These tender spots feel like little sore nodules or bands. Oil massage helps to move blood and lymph, stretch muscles, and make the feet more flexible.
Use your thumbs to march across the bottom of your feet inch by inch to find tender spots.
Hold each tender point with medium pressure -- until the pressure "hurts good" -- while you wiggle your foot until the point stops hurting. Then search for the next tender point until you have found them all on the bottom of your foot.
Repeat the thumb pressure on the top of your foot, marching across the top of the foot, around the ankles and between the toes, looking for trigger points. Hold each trigger point with medium pressure, as you did on the bottom of your foot, and stretch and flex the muscles while you hold each point.
Repeat the trigger-point work on the other foot. At the end of the trigger-point work, your feet should feel warmer, more flexible and less painful.
Using Oil, Cream or Lotion
Warm 1 tbsp. of your chosen massage oil, cream or lotion in the palms of your hands. Apply the oil or cream to your foot, rubbing it lightly all over your foot, toes and ankles.
Wrap your fingers and thumbs, using both hands, around your foot. Use your thumbs and fingers to make circular movements all over the bottom and top of your foot and around your ankles. Take your time, rubbing slowly with moderate pressure.
Rub your foot lengthwise, from the heel to the toes and back on the bottom of the foot, from the ankles to the toes and back on the top of the foot. You'll be able to feel a long tendon on the bottom of your foot from the heel to the ball of your foot. Rub across and along that tendon. Try to rub between the long bones and tendons on the top of your foot.
Rub your toes, pinching and squeezing each one. If it feels good, pull on each toe to stretch it a little. Use your entire hands to rub briskly on the bottom and top of your foot, to make some heat with the friction. Repeat the massage movements on your other foot.
Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil in your massage oil, lotion or cream and use the blend to massage your feet. Peppermint essential oil makes the skin feel warm at first, and then cool and refreshed when it is exposed to air.
Freeze a couple of inches of water in small paper cups. When your feet are sore and hot, peel the bottom off one cup, revealing the ice. Use the rest of the cup as a holder and massage your feet with the ice.
Pour a little witch hazel in the palm of your hand and rub it over your feet, massaging it into the skin.
Elevate your feet for 10 to 15 minutes after you massage them, to assist in draining any swelling. When choosing a massage oil, vegetable oil, lotion for extra-dry skin or moisturizing cream for massaging your feet, you need something oily that won't dry out before you finish massaging your feet. That way, you won't have to keep reapplying it. If you don't like or are sensitive to peppermint essential oil, use eucalyptus essential oil.
For areas that have abrasions, cuts, scratches or blisters, don't massage them until they heal. You don't want to cause an infection in the open areas.
- Rub Your Feet, Improve Your Health; Thomacine Haywood
- Personal Trainer: Hand & Foot Massage; Mary Atkinson
- The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook; Claire Davies et al.
Ramona French owned a massage school and taught massage for 28 years. In that time she wrote textbooks on Swedish, acupressure, deep tissue and lymph drainage massage. She is the author of "Introduction to Lymph Drainage Massage" and "Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage." Her book, "The Complete Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage," published by Milady, was released in October 2011.