Foot massage: The pause that refreshes and is good for you!

Healthbeat

Your feet work hard for you every day. Especially at this busy time of year for many people — shopping, get-togethers with family, friends, co-workers, school events — there is no shortage of time spent on one's feet.

Just like your neck, back, and shoulders, your feet can also benefit from a regular rubdown. Foot massage improves circulation, stimulates muscles, reduces tension, and often eases pain. It also gives you a chance to check out your feet so you can get a jump on treating blisters, bunions, corns, and toenail problems.

A professional foot massage is a treat, but not necessary to get the benefits. Here is a guide to a do-it-yourself foot massage:

  • Sit in a comfortable chair. Bend your left leg and rest your left foot gently on your right thigh.
  • Pour some skin lotion or oil into your hand. Rub it gently into your foot and massage your whole foot including the toes, arch, and heel.
  • Do a deeper massage. Press the knuckles of your right hand into your left foot. Knead your foot as you would bread. Or work the skin and muscles by holding a foot with both hands and pressing your thumbs into the skin.
  • Using your hands, gently pull the toes back and forth or apart. This stretches the muscles underneath.
  • Repeat on the other foot.

Massage devices in local drugstores or health stores can also help relax and restore your feet. Foot rollers are low-tech devices that can provide fast foot massages at home or at work. Simply remove your shoes, and roll your feel over the massagers for a quick pick-me-up.

More than three out of four Americans will suffer some kind of foot ailment in their lifetimes. Find out how to keep your feet fit and healthy and how to treat problems when they occur buy Foot Care Basics, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.