In an article written by Vaidya Vandana Dhir, Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar, in the YogSandesh magazine, she says that massaging your feet everyday has an immense benefit for your body. It not only increases the circulation in your feet, but it also helps beat fatigue, invigorate the nervous sytem (as the feet have vital nerve endings) and increases strength and tone of the muscles. A foot massage also helps relieve eye strain and stress due to all the acupressure points present on the sole of the foot. It also helps ground your energies when you stand and balances the energies in all your seven chakras. Apart from all this the application of oil on your feet everyday also helps prevent common skin conditions like cracked heels and the chances of bacterial and fungal infections.
How you should massage your feet:
Step 1: Gather everything you will need
- You will need a small tub of warm water, some ginger and salt.
- A towel to wipe off your feet
- Any massage oil – you could use coconut oil, sesame or mustard oil. While coconut oil is the best, you could use sesame oil as well. Mustard oil can generate heat in the body and therefore should be avoided in the summers.
Step 2: Create a foot soak and relax
Take a tub of warm water. Add some crushed ginger to it, or you could choose to squeeze some ginger juice in the water as well. Now add a tea spoon of sea salt to the tub as well. Soak your feet in the tub and just relax. Rest your back on a chair and use a pillow to support your head. Close your eyes and simply enjoy the relaxing feeling of the soak. You could add a few rose petals to the mix on those special days when you are extra tired. Their aroma will help you relax and unwind.
Step 3: Wipe of your foot and apply the oil
After soaking your feet for about 20 to 30 minutes (remember this is supposed to be a relaxing process, so take your time and remove your feet from the water as and when you feel ready), take them out and gently pat them dry. Now, take some massage oil in your hand and apply it liberally all over your feet. Make sure there is enough oil on your feet so that there is very little friction between your hands and feet when you start the massage. Ideally you should start with your right foot, finish massaging it and then move on to your left foot.
Step 4: Massage your feet
The massage of each foot should last about 15 to 20 minutes. Here’s how you can do it.
- Start massaging around your ankles first, starting with the area where your calf ends. Use your fingers and thumb to press the muscle from the base of your calf to your heel. The motion should be downwards and gentle. Use only as much pressure as you are comfortable with.
- Now, using your fingers and thumb, massage the part just below your ankle, moving your fingers from the inner portion of your foot to the outside.
- Next, move to your toes and massage the area between each toe with your index finger and thumb. Gently press each part and pull away from the finger.
- Wrap your finger around the base of your big toes and pull it away from the toe, gently loosening the muscles there. Do this for all five toes.
- Now, glide your thumb along the tendons of your toes on the top of your foot. Make sure you use the pad of your thumb for this, and press down gently. Start from the webbing of the fingers and press along the depression on the top of your foot to the ankle.
- After this you can move to the base of your foot. Bend your leg at the knee and place your foot on the thigh of the other foot such that the bottom of your foot is facing upwards.
- Hold your foot with both your hands, so that your thumbs are on your sole, and placed just below the ball of your foot. Now, applying pressure move your thumb outwards in opposite directions.
- Next, bring your thumb to the centre of your foot and massage down the centre (also known as the arch of your foot). Do this several times and them start massaging your heels. Use the base of your palm to press down, in circular motions on your heel.
- For the last part of your massage, intertwine your fingers with your toes by passing them in between your toes. Hold your foot and gently move it in a clockwise, then anticlockwise manner to loosen up the muscles of your ankles and feet. Next clasp your big toe in between the palms of your feet and rotate it in a similar fashion.
- Finally, using the palm of your hand, massage the base of your foot making a figure eight pattern. Now, slap the soles of your feet to increase circulation and get rid of excess vayu(the element air that is present in the body according to Ayurvedic principles) from your body.
- Now repeat the entire process on the left foot.
Step 5: Clean up
You can choose to wash your feet with some warm water at the end of the massage. You do not need to use soap, as this step is just to get rid of any excess oil on your feet. After you have washed them wear a pair of soft cotton socks and you are ready for a night of restful sleep.
Things you should remember:
- Apply only as much pressure as you are comfortable with. Do not continue the massage if you feel any pain or discomfort.
- If you have swollen feet, add a little extra salt to the water to help bring down the swelling.
- You can choose to do this massage at any time of the day, but doing it just before bed-time is a great way to relax, unwind and it aids in a good night’s rest.
- If you’ve ever injured your ankle, toes or any other part of your foot, please do this after you have consulted a trained doctor.