I have taken on a challenge of changing up my daily routine, in any way I can, for seven days. Basically it’s a way to shake up my way of thinking and allow for new inspirations. One of the many adaptations I am planning on is how I start my massage protocols. For this week I am going to start at the feet. Feet are vital to our overall wellness and quality of life, so I am always shocked to hear from therapists and clients, how few of us give them little or any attention. This makes them another excellent region to amp up our skills and efforts.
I know all of us have learned foot massage but I’m going to challenge you to go deeper. Once you have introduced yourself to the feet with some warming techniques, really look at them and the adapted distortions that have developed. Are toes twisting, curling, saluting, crammed together or buried? Are there signs of the beginning of bunions, or calluses on the top of the toes? Do the arches (we have three) experience rebound when pressed? Are the ankles mobile? Are the feet pointing down to the table while in supine or are they showing inversion/eversion?
Amped Up Techniques:
Loosen Achilles (Calcaneal) tendon – Perform Myofascial, Petrissage and Effleurage by reaching under the leg. , I typically utilize Geothermal (hot/cold stones) therapy, starting at the calves.
Mobilize ankles – Place the ulnar side of your hands superior to ankle bones and perform a rhythmic back /forth and up/down. Take ankles thru full range of motion with the Alphabet Stretch (like drawing the cursive alphabet with their foot). This is a great assessment and relaxation tool, as well as great self care.
Mobilize arches - 1. Place hands on dorsal and plantar surfaces of feet and press/release. Gently wring the feet. Feel for rebound. Place hands on lateral and medial side of foot resting your fingers on the dorsal side. Alternate pressing one hand up while pulling the other hand down. Move fingers closer to midline and repeat several times- allowing you to work between each metatarsal.
2. Place both hands side by side on the medial side of foot and twist one hand away from you while holding the other stationary. Repeat on the entire midline of foot.
3. Place flat fist along the diaphragmic line (inferior to the ball) of the plantar side of foot. Place other hand enveloping the toes. Create a push and pull between your two hands.
Toes – If toes are distorted, look to the direction they are pulled to. Place a finger over that area and just inferior, applying gentle but firm pressure. If there is tenderness, hold pressure on the area until you feel softening of tissue. Release and reassess. Keep moving around the area until you see improvement. Sometimes I will utilize cross fiber, piezoelectric and myofascial to aid in the release.
As always, this work may be tender but it has to be tolerable and never torture! Finish off with a pleasant application of fast absorbing Biotone’s Polar Lotion: cooling, refreshing and therapeutic (a great retail item)
Most of us chose this profession to make a difference in people’s lives. There is no greater calling then to help people stay active and pain free, feet are a fundamental component of that. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish if your eyes, head, heart and hands are working together.
Be well, Do good work, and Write us about your favorite tips for working on the feet.