Five minutes is all it takes to re-energize and de-stress! Your body is made up of a network of connective tissue that runs all the way up the back of your body to the crown of your head. Your feet are its starting point. When you massage the soles of your feet, you activate this network and enliven the entire body. Blood flows, anxiety lessens, and your immune system strengthens. All it takes is a 5-minute do-it-yourself foot massage. Of course, if you have a loved one there to do it for you, even better!
Health Benefits of Foot Massage
Perhaps the greatest benefit of foot massage is the positive impact it has on stress. Stress is the precursor of virtually every disease—of both a physical and mental nature—and a 5-minute foot massage helps decrease stress and promote relaxation.
Researchers administered 5-minute foot massages to 25 critically ill patients in intensive care. They measured physiological parameters before, during, and after treatment. Using the patients’ bedside monitors, researchers checked heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, respirations, and peripheral oxygen saturation. Results showed that during treatment patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, and respirations significantly decreased, indicating that a 5-minute foot massage promotes relaxation and improves health.
A 5-minute foot massage also boosts circulation. Your blood transports oxygen and nutrients to your cells, and clears out wastes and toxins. Unfortunately, stress blocks optimal blood flow. According to the principles of reflexology, a foot massage releases these blockages so that the blood can flow freely again.
How to Give a 5-minute Foot Massage
There are many methods to foot massage, and the best for you depends on personal preference, but here are three suggestions to get you started.
Deep Foot Massage: Hold your foot in your hands with your fingers on your sole and your thumbs resting on top. Press down with your thumbs and the heels of your hands, massaging up and in with your fingers. Vary the motion by moving one hand up and one hand down the foot simultaneously.
Reverse your hand position, moving your thumbs to the bottom of your feet and your fingers to the top. Massage with firm circles, especially over the soles of the feet. Be sure to massage your ankles and heels with your fingers! To release stress, activate the acupressure point called the solar plexus reflex, located in the hollow just below the ball of the feet and directly in line with the second toe.
Toe Stretches and Tugs: Hold your heel with one hand as you stretch your toes forward (by folding them down) with the other. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then reverse, stretching your toes upward and holding.
Move on to each toe, tugging gently with the index finger and thumb. Once your toes have been wakened, twist each from side to side.
Rolling Foot Massage: Use a tennis ball (or a frozen water bottle) as your massage tool. Roll your feet over the tennis ball, starting with the tips of your toes and ending at the back of your heels. This exercise energizes feet, and also helps to loosen tight hamstrings. Be sure to cover every part of your foot!