Many people, including myself, become slightly obsessive in their quest for good health, and in doing so, ignore simple daily practices that could improve it greatly. One of these ways of improving natural health is to take a few minutes out of your day to give yourself a foot massage.
While many think of foot massages as just being for relaxation purposes, there are actually numerous other health benefits you can gain by doing them.
The Health Benefits of Reflexology
Not only is reflexology a completely safe and natural way of enhancing your quality of life – it also stimulates nerves, mainly in the palm of your hand and the bottom of your foot. When a specific nerve branch is touched in either of these areas, a different area of the body will be affected.
Reflexology is reputed to be able to alleviate headaches, cold symptoms, stress and many other daily inconveniences that we deal with regularly during our lives. Its roots can be traced all the way back to ancient times, and is believed to have originated in Asia. The fact that the practice has maintained a following over the millennia is a testament to how effective it really can be at providing relief and promoting good health.
The Health Benefits of a Foot Massage
Reflexology works on the principle that the key to virtually every part of the human body lies in the sole of the foot, as well as the palm of the hand. A daily foot massage before bed will relieve sore feet after a long day, as well as bring wellness to your entire body by stimulating its pressure points. Here are 7 health benefits of a foot massage:
1. Promote Mental Health and Well-Being
A daily foot massage can do wonders for your mental well-being. A 1999 study conducted at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK found that a five-minute foot massage served to bring relaxation to critical care patients, reducing their stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate.
In 2010, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing showed that massage of the soft tissues in the hands and feet comforted those grieving the death of a loved one.
Yet another study, this time conducted in 2013 by researchers at Australia’s Griffith University, showed that a 10-minute foot massage significantly reduced stress levels and improved the mood of participants who had a demanding, high-stress job.
2. Natural Pain Reliever
A 2004 study conducted at the Indiana University School of Nursing found that post-operative patients experienced reduced pain symptoms following a foot or hand massage, when compared to patients who only used pain medication.
The Applied Nursing Journal published a study in 2010 which indicated that women who received a foot massage after giving birth by C-section reported reduced post-op pain in comparison to the placebo group.
3. Relief from Cancer Symptoms and Side Effects
Cancer patients were found to experience both reduced pain symptoms and nausea thanks to foot massages, according to a 2000 study conducted by researchers from the University of Canberra.
Furthermore, a 2012 study conducted at Michigan State University found that breast cancer patients undergoing treatment reported a dramatic reduction in their physical symptoms, such as lessened shortness of breath and improved energy levels.
4. Relief from Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
In addition to cancer, foot massages have also proven to be effective at alleviating the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In the March/April 2015 edition of the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, findings of a study conducted by a multi-campus team of Iranian researchers were published, indicating that reflexology was found to provide relief from the crippling fatigue that so many MS sufferers experience.
5. Reduce High Blood Pressure
Researchers at Pusan National University in South Korea found that systolic blood pressure, together with triglyceride levels in the blood, both improved dramatically following a therapeutic massage.
A similar study conducted in Spain by Dr. Jesus Manzanares found that hypertensive patients receiving massages specifically targeted at reducing blood pressure, in contrast with members of the placebo group, experienced a reduction in symptoms – to such an extent that doses of their high blood pressure medications could be reduced while they were undergoing reflexology-based treatment.
6. Relief from PMS Symptoms
A 1993 study conducted at the California Graduate Institute’s Division of Behavioral Medicine, and published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal, found that women who underwent reflexology treatments reported a marked reduction in their PMS symptoms.
7. Reduce Swollen Legs
Peripheral edemas in the body occur when fluid builds up in a particular area of it. These edemas can be symptomatic of an underlying issue that may require medical attention. Examples of these are kidney disease, heart failure or liver disease.
A study conducted in Turkey in 2010 found that pregnancy-related peripheral edemas were significantly reduced thanks to regular foot massages.
How to Give a Healing Foot Massage
1. Put a small amount of lotion or oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil, in your hand and smooth over the foot.
2. Using both hands, hold the foot firmly and rub the top of the foot using a firm motion with your thumbs. Start from the tip of each toe and move slowly all the way to the ankle. Move back toward the toes and rub with a lighter stroke. Repeat three times.
3. Continue holding the foot with both hands and move your thumbs firmly down towards the heel. Go back towards the toes and then rub the bottom of the foot with your thumbs. Repeat three times.
4. Repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 for the other foot.
Video – How to Perform a Foot Massage
Content Source: Healthy and Natural World