Did you know that each of your feet have more than 7000 nerve endings? The sensory feedback these nerve endings transmit to the central nervous system provide information about the surface being walked upon. This lets your body know how your feet are connecting with the ground and allow your system to determine the safety of the environment. Signals are then sent back to the feet to tell them how to move in order to maintain balance.
As massage therapists we can also use those thousands of nerve endings to relax and rejuvenate the body by providing our clients with foot massage. Even 5 minutes on each foot can be beneficial to our clients, so why not add a little extra effort into working the feet?
You can take your typical foot routine up a notch with these few simple adjustments.
Make sure to check with your client to be sure they actually like their feet massaged! Some clients may have an aversion to foot massage due to highly sensitive feet, injury or illness such as diabetes. You can often help these clients by working through the sheet and being very gentle with your movements.
Start your session with the feet. Foot massage can be an incredibly relaxing experience. Use this to your benefit! By working the feet first, you are really relaxing the entire body, making your job easier in the long run. I like to start by compressing and rocking the entire body starting at the head and neck and ending at the feet.
Once at the feet, compress into the ball of each foot with soft fists and hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat two more times moving up to the mid-foot and then to the heel.
Undrape one foot at a time and wrap it in a warm towel or cover with a heated bean sack. Allow the warmth to remain on the feet for 1- 1.5 minutes while you gently massage around the Achilles tendon and ankles.
Remove the heat mechanism, apply a light oil or lotion and perform your normal foot massage routine for 1 to 2 minutes per foot.
Using a small heated stone, gently press into the tips of each toe, holding the pressure for 3 seconds, start at the pinkie toe and ending on the big toe.
Continue this movement along the inside edge of the foot, holding 4 or 5 points, until you reach the heel.
Repeat movement in the center of the heel and in the middle of the sole of the foot. Press gently and add pressure to the client’s level of comfort.
Once complete, stretch the foot by flexing, extending and rotating the foot around the ankle.
Finish with 1 minute of gentle massage to integrate.
The above routine is quick and simple, yet it can have deeply relaxing results. Paying that little bit of extra attention to our client’s tired and weary soles can help wipe away the stress of the day and make the rest of your session that much more effective!