We all know that a foot massage can work wonders, reducing stress and allowing relaxation. But did you know that a foot massage can help improve your mental, emotional and physical health as well?
Interestingly enough, the foot massage has been practiced in many different cultures over many centuries. And if you are wondering why such a technique has survived for so long and permeated so many cultures, here are 5 unexpected ways a foot massage can benefit you!
1. Helping and Preventing Pain with a Foot Massage
A simple foot massage can help reduce pain. Yep, you read that correctly, a foot massage has been known to help reduce pain.
Don't believe me? A study conducted by researchers from Indiana University School of Nursing was published in the Pain Management Nursing journal in 2004. They found that post-operative patients would report a greater reduction in pain symptoms after a foot massage than those who were on only pain medication.
Alright, so we now understand that a foot massage will help reduce pain after a foot or ankle injury, but did you know that a regular foot massage can help prevent injury?
By combining a foot massage with strengthening exercises, the foot and/or ankle will become stronger and more flexible thereby preventing any more injuries in the future.
Plus, getting a foot massage will help those with flat feet. The flat foot creates problems due to the absent arch. The lack of arch creates inflammation and/or deterioration of the plantar fascia within the foot thereby causing a high degree of pain.
Reduce the pain of having flat feet by getting a foot massage. Apply pressure to the bottoms of your feet will encourage blood flow and relax tight tendons. However, getting a foot massage can not only reduce the pain caused by this condition, but it can also improve the condition overall.
2. Improves Mental Health
Stress is a common trigger for chronic diseases. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, there is not too much we can do about the constant stress. However, a foot massage helps to put you in a relaxed state that allows for any stress to melt away.
Such a relaxed state allows for the mind and body to release/reduce the anxieties and depression that are plaguing your health. Plus, people who have had regular foot massages have been known to stop taking medications.
According to a study published in the Intensive and Critical Care Nursing journal in 1999, a simple 5-minute foot massage brought relaxation to critical care patients. This relaxation helped reduce the patient's stress levels, blood pressure, and heart rate considerably.
A different study conducted by Australian researchers from Griffith University indicated that those with high-stress, demanding jobs had a reduction in their anxiety levels and an improvement in their overall mood after being given a 10-minute foot massage.
Now that is something to consider if your job is demanding and stressful!
4. Lower Blood Pressure and Improves Circulation
With a continual sedentary lifestyle, it is difficult for the muscular structure of the body to be properly utilized. Without the proper exercise, blood circulation becomes difficult, a feat that is not improved by the constant weight of shoes and socks.
Getting a foot massage can help. The massage promotes blood circulation, which then allows for a reduction of any swelling in the feet and ankles (edema).
And, since a foot massage is known to help improve circulation and reduce swelling, it is also known to help reduce the swelling that occurs in the feet and ankles when pregnant. A helpful tip for anyone looking to get on a pregnant woman's good side!
High blood pressure is another common problem seen in society today. It can be caused by an unbalanced diet, not enough exercise, and even genetics. Thankfully, a foot massage can not only promote blood circulation but lower blood pressure.
This can be seen in the research conducted by a Spanish medical doctor and practitioner of reflexology, Dr. Jesus Manzanares. Dr. Manzanares found that patients with high blood pressure who received a foot massage showed improvement. So much improvement, in fact, that they were able to reduce dosages of medications while getting the massage treatment.
4. Reduces Symptoms of Menopause and PMS
Every female hates "that time of the month" and would gladly do anything to relieve the discomfort it brings.
Well, good news! Since a massage has the potential to rebalance hormone levels, it is a great way to reduce symptoms of menopause and PMS. Specifically, a foot massage has been proven to reduce the pain, fatigue, mood swings, and discomfort that accompany both PMS and menopause.
Some therapeutic benefits of the foot massage include: stimulating the release of serotonin and endorphins, increasing blood circulation, promoting sedation, preventing the formation of scar tissue, and even blocking the response to pain or raising the threshold.
Sound too good to be true? It's not. A study published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal found that women who got a foot massage reported a reduction in their PMS symptoms.
Not only will you be feeling better during your worst time, but it provides a fantastic excuse to get a monthly foot massage!
5. Migraines and Headaches
Headaches and migraines will suck the life out of you. Fortunately, there are ways you to help relieve symptoms immediately and ways to prevent headaches and migraines from occurring at all!
Getting a foot massage for headaches takes on the theory that the hands and feet are maps representing the entire body. Different areas on the foot will represent different areas of the body. By effectively using this map, you can relieve tension in muscles that create migraines and headaches.
For example, the second joint on each toe is said to help relieve the pressure from sinus headaches and a point just inside the big toe corresponds to the temple area.
This theory, derived from acupuncture, has been around for a long time. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence that a primitive form of what is now know as reflexology was used in ancient Japan, China, and Egypt for medicinal purposes.
If it has been around that long and is one of the most popular applications for reflexology, then it must be helpful!
Bonus!: Extra Energy
The constant fatigue that plagues your body may be related to a variety of contributions. Stress, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, diet and any immune system disorders are all known contributors. However, getting a foot massage has been known to help.
The foot massage is known to provide your body with improved blood circulation. With your blood circulating better, you will feel a renewed energy and your hormones will regain balance.
This is because the blood and oxygen with your body are being cycled more effectively. This effectiveness allows for more oxygen to reach vital organs thereby optimizing their function!
Furthermore, stress hormone levels decrease which will alleviate any stress related fatigue and allow for your energy to balance out. Another benefit is that your sleep will improve, and better sleep means more energy!
Of course, the benefits of a foot massage aren't too beneficial if you don't have a disposable income that can be spent on a weekly masseur (which can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 per week!). Plus, a masseur requires you to book an appointment a day in advance, take the time out of your schedule to travel to their office, and pay for any parking fees!
But don't worry! You can still get that relaxing foot massage without going through so much trouble and money!
So what are you waiting for? Go buy your own foot massager and enjoy reaping the benefits of a regular foot massage!