|Photo by Visitor7|
Ahhh . . . summertime . . . the season to relax, chill out, and unwind. But it can also be a rather hectic season, too, with all the gardening and lawn chores to tend to, company to entertain, parties to attend, vacation travel, and the shuttling of children from one activity to another. If your nerves are becoming frayed, your energy level is running on empty, and your poor feet have seen better days, then by all means partake of an aromatherapy foot massage. It will soothe your spirits, reduce stress, put the spring back into your step, and soften your feet. What’s good for the body is good for the “sole”!
Here are some standard foot-massage techniques that a professional nail technician might perform on a client during a pedicure. If you do not have a willing partner to give you a massage, never fear. These techniques are just as easily done by you on your own feet. Foot massage can be performed on dry or, better yet, slightly oiled feet, using any quality vegetable oil. My favorite massage oils to use are extra-virgin coconut oil, which penetrates quite easily and is energetically cooling, or St. John’s wort–infused oil (available from herbal supply companies such as Jean’s Greens or Mountain Rose Herbs), which has potent anti-inflammatory properties that soothe and relieve pain. Place a half teaspoon of oil in your palm, and add a drop or two of your favorite cooling essential oil, such as peppermint, spearmint, lavender, or geranium; rub your hands together; and begin to relax and recharge.
Techniques of Foot Massage
“The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day.”
Step #1: Stroking stimulates circulation and warms the muscles of the feet. Holding your partner’s foot in your hands, on the top of the foot, begin a long, slow, firm stroking motion with your thumbs, starting at the tips of the toes and sliding back away from you, all the way to the ankle; then retrace your steps back to the toes with a lighter stroke. Repeat this step three to five times. Now, firmly stroke the bottom of the foot with your thumbs, starting at the base of the toes and moving from the ball of the foot over the arch to the heel, then back again. Repeat this step three to five times.
Step #2: Ankle rotations will loosen the joints and relax the feet. Cup one hand under the heel, behind the ankle, to brace the foot and leg. Grasp the ball of the foot with the other hand, and turn the foot slowly at the ankle three to five times in each direction. With the repeated foot massages, any stiffness will begin to recede. This is a particularly good exercise for those suffering from arthritis.
Step #3: Toe pulls and squeezes can be unbelievably calming because toes are quite sensitive. Grasp the foot beneath the arch. With the other hand, and beginning with the big toe, hold the toe with your thumb on top and index finger beneath. Starting at the base of the toe, slowly and firmly pull the toe, sliding your fingers to the top and back to the base. Now repeat, but gently squeeze and roll the toe between your thumb and index finger, working your way to the tip and back to the base. Repeat on the remaining toes.
Step #4: Toe slides are also very soothing. Grasp the foot behind the ankle, cupping under the heel. With the index finger of the other hand, insert your finger between the toes, sliding it back and forth three to five times.
Step #5: The arch press releases tension in the inner and outer longitudinal arches. Hold the foot as you did in step 4. Using the heel of your other hand, push hard as you slide along the arch from the ball of the foot toward the heel and back again. Repeat five times. This part of the foot can stand a little extra exertion, but don’t apply too much pressure.
Step #6: Stroking is a good way to begin and end a foot massage. Repeat Step #1 above.
— Stephanie Tourles
Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic esthetician, certified aromatherapist, and gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She is the author of eight books, including Hands-On Healing Remedies; Organic Body Care Recipes; Raw Energy; Naturally Healthy Skin; 365 Ways to Energize Mind, Body & Soul; and Natural Foot Care. She lives in Orland, Maine.