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According to reflexologists, the human foot contains several reflex points that correspond to different organs and systems inside the body. In fact, the anatomy of your foot acts as a small map for your entire body.
Massaging these reflex points can stimulate and soothe the area they are connected to. This mechanism can be used to alleviate a variety of common pains, aches, and ailments without the use of medication.
Plus, a nightly foot massage can singlehandedly ease your mental and physical distress and induce restful sleep, (1) which is a prerequisite for good health.
This nonpharmacological intervention has long been used in Ayurveda as well, which claims that massaging the foot can help unblock the flow of energy throughout the body to prevent various diseases and promote overall well-being. (2)(3)
Reasons to Include Foot Massage in Your Bedtime Routine
Massaging your feet before going to bed can be therapeutic in the following ways:
1. Improves blood circulation
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, and any blockage in its flow can contribute to the development of various health problems such as poor sleep, anxiety, body pain, swelling, and heart problems. (4)
The feet are the lowest points of the body and are constantly under the strain of its weight and thus can suffer from poor blood flow.
A foot massage stimulates blood circulation under the skin, bringing more nutrients and oxygen to the area. This helps repair and rejuvenate the worn-out tissue, nerves, and muscles inside your overworked feet.
The topical stimulation also helps relieve muscle tension, pain, and swelling in the feet, which inadvertently has a relaxing effect on the entire body and thereby facilitates better sleep. (5)
2. Reduces fatigue and stress
Studies have found that massaging the feet with aromatic essential oils is more effective than regular massages for easing mental and physical stress. Essential oils are basically plant oils credited with multiple healing properties. Moreover, breathing in their fragrant vapors can help relax your mind and body.
Moreover, your feet contain various reflex points that are directly connected to different organs and systems. Massaging these points has a stimulating and therapeutic effect on the corresponding body part.
Thus, an aroma foot massage offers the double advantage of aromatherapy and topical stimulation of pressure points that soothe sore muscles in different parts of the body and relieve stress, fatigue, and anxiety. (6)(7)
Research studies also suggest that massage therapy is known for its therapeutic relaxation effects by relieving hypertension and maintaining blood pressure and heart rate. (8)
Doing this right before bedtime can help improve your sleep quality, and this nonpharmacological intervention is particularly useful for older adults and people with sleep disorders. (1)
3. Relieves constipation
Constipation makes you feel heavy and uneasy, which can keep you from getting sound restful sleep at night. In fact, digestive issues such as this can adversely impact your overall health, including your mental well-being.
But something as simple as a foot massage can help you overcome this problem. As mentioned earlier, your feet contain certain pressure points. Stimulating these points through massage can facilitate bowel movement and waste elimination, thus providing digestive relief.
This intervention has yielded great results for elderly patients who frequently suffer from constipation. (9)
4. Reduces lower back pain
Certain reflex points in the lower arch edge of the foot are directly connected to the lumbar region of the spine. Massaging these points stimulates blood flow in the lower back, relieving muscle pain and inflammation as well as promoting tissue repair after an injury. (10)
5. Eases pain in the feet
Your feet carry the load of the body and undergo a lot of wear and tear daily. This constant strain and injury give rise to pain and inflammation inside the feet. (1)
Massaging your tired feet can help relax the underlying muscles and joints to make them hurt less and improve their flexibility. Plus, it increases blood flow in the area, promoting faster tissue repair.
Pampering your feet this way will have a soothing effect on your entire body and thereby induce good-quality sleep. (11)
6. Improves headaches and migraine
Chronic headaches and migraine can make you dependent on pain medications, which will increase the toxic load on your kidneys and exacerbate some serious health issues. Thus, it is important to look for safer alternatives to pain relief.
A foot massage is one such way wherein applying sustained pressure on specific points on the feet can soothe your headaches to a great degree. (12)
7. Helpful for flat feet
The soles of the feet have a natural arch that allows proper balance and distribution of body weight. But loose ligaments can make this arch collapse and cause flat feet such that the entire sole presses into the ground when you stand. This deformity can lead to chronic heel pain, swelling in the soft tissue, and leg fatigue even after mild physical activity. (13)
Fortunately, specific foot exercises and deep tissue foot massage done regularly can help provide significant pain relief. (14) When massaging the foot, make sure to apply extra pressure in the arch area.
8. Relieves premenstrual syndrome and menopause symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by hormonal fluctuations, which trigger a combination of physical and psychological symptoms such as low mood, irritability, nausea, anxiety, lethargy, and headaches, all of which can disrupt your sleep. Lack of sleep and rest will inadvertently make the condition worse.
Massaging your feet daily during this period can help ease much of this symptomatic discomfort and hence improve your overall well-being and induce restful sleep. (15)(16)
Menopause is also associated with similar symptoms, which can be minimized through regular foot massage. In fact, one study found that this nonpharmacological intervention was quite helpful in improving the quality of life of premenopausal and menopausal women. (17)
9. Good for your sex life
A foot massage can help increase libido and is a great gift to give your partner after a long tiring day. A study also found that it was effective in correcting certain aspects of sexual dysfunction in male patients under hemodialysis. (18)
How to Massage Your Feet
Note: Use just enough oil to lubricate the skin rather than making it slippery wet.
- Wash and pat your feet dry.
- Pour some oil, preferably an aromatic essential oil such as jojoba oil, into a bowl.
- Coat your entire feet with a small amount of oil.
- Take some more oil and massage it around your ankles with your fingers using circular motions and along the long bones using a linear motion.
- Dip your fingers back in the oil and rub it on the upper side of your feet, moving back and forth from the toes to the ankle.
- Pinch your toes one by one and massage them.
- Massage the base of your feet, with a special focus on the heel.
- Interlace the fingers of one hand between the toes of the opposite foot and roll the ankle in both directions.
- Put on socks to prevent oil stains on your bed linen and slipping accidents.
A simple foot massage at night can help relax your mind and body and thereby promote good-quality sleep so that you wake up fresh and rejuvenated the next day.
It is a safe and inexpensive way to relieve a wide range of physical discomforts while also being a great stress buster. It has a soothing effect on your brain and body, which can lead to better sleep.
However, you must learn the proper massaging technique according to foot reflexology to yield the desired results. Fortunately, it is quite simple and straightforward as described in the article. If you have queries or concerns about foot massage, feel free to consult an expert.
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