Follow the simple 6-step foot massage guide below and learn how to massage feet just like a professional.
But let's start by watching a professional foot massage in action. So that's how a professional therapist performs a rejuvenating and relaxing foot massage.
We promise you it's easy to learn to get something close to that. And the great news is the only supplies you need are your fingers, thumbs and palms with a bucket of warm water and some cream or oil as your tools. It doesn't matter whether you want to do a DIY foot massage or massage a friend, the basic techniques that you will use are the same.
Massaging the feet is one of the easiest parts of the body in terms of preparation. Foot massages are best done on clean, bare feet - so prep is little more than taking off socks and washing feet. You can use a favourite moisturising cream for the treatment, but a good rub feels just as good if done with oil, talcum powder or no lubricant at all.
To prepare, grab a towel and find a warm and comfortable place to sit. Remove socks, ideally uncovering the legs up to and including the whole of the calf. Optionally, soak feet and ankles in a bucket of warm water for about 5 minutes before starting. The soaking procedure has the dual benefit of not only cleansing but also warming the underlying muscles in the feet and softening any hard skin.
You'll be pleased to learn that you don’t need any special equipment to perform foot massage therapy. However, various tools are available on the market - like Thai massage sticks - but in our opinion using just your fingers, thumbs and palms mixed with a large dose of genuine empathy does the very best job.
All the techniques described below work on socked feet too, so if you prefer to keep your feet dry and your socks on, that's not a problem!
Start by grabbing a foot with both hands.
Using the fleshy parts of your thumbs, apply light to medium pressure to the various pressure points which run along the sole from the ball of the foot right down to the heel.
Identify any particularly tired points and in these parts, you can hold the pressure steady in the same position for about 10 seconds.
Never push too hard and always ensure that it feels comfortable throughout. Sometimes the compression of massage techniques can be quite intense but it should never cause undue pain or discomfort. Specialist sports or deep tissue massage therapy should only be performed by appropriately trained professionals.
Squeeze the heel of the foot by using the edges of your hand between the thumb and forefinger as shown in the image above.
Increase the force of the squeeze as far as feels comfortable and hold this position for about 10 seconds. Then release the pressure gradually before repeating the same movement. You can continue this squeeze, release, squeeze, release cycle for a minute. Do not rush it, as the more slowly you do it, the more relaxing the therapy feels.
The heel can usually take a deeper intensity of massage than other parts of the foot, as the skin and nerves in this area are less sensitive. Some Thai massage techniques use a wooden stick to effectively jab the foot with quite intense pressure to the heel, but we feel you can do a more than adequate job using your hands.
Follow the heel massage with a little light scratching to awaken nerve endings. Using the tips of your fingers and nails, scratch the bottom of the foot, with a light to medium pressure.
Try not to be too light as it may tickle - a medium pressure is probably best. It may still feel a bit ticklish, especially if you have sensitive feet, but persevere and you should get used to the feeling quite quickly.
This technique is an excellent way to awaken and invigorate nerves in the soles of the feet, which in turn increases healthy blood circulation to the area.
This might sound a little scary at first, but when done correctly this gives a lovely stretchy feeling in a part of the body that is used rigorously every day.
Slowly and gently bend all the toes on one foot back towards the shin. Bend them only as far as feels easy and once you reach a position of resistance simply hold the toes in that bent position for about 10 seconds. Slowly release and then repeat this 3 times. Depending on the flexibility of the recipient, you may find that you are able to bend the toes a little further back each time - but if not, then just stick with the same position.
This is a real "aaaahhh" part of the foot massage, which you or your lucky recipient should really appreciate. Grab all the toes on one foot with one hand and once again bend them back slightly.
This time, whilst the toes are still bent back, use the fleshy tips of your thumbs of both hands to apply pressure to the ball of the foot, as shown in the image above.
With the pressure still applied, slowly move your thumbs around the base of the foot searching for any points that feel tender or tight. If you find any such points, rotate your thumbs around the area using small concentric circular movements, gradually increasing the intensity of your massage in those parts. Hold the pressure in the tight spot for about 10 seconds, before gradually releasing.
Refer to our foot reflexology map to identify which specific foot pressure points may be most relevant to fixing any specific ailments you or your friend have been suffering from.
Finish off your foot massage therapy by spreading the fingers of your hand slightly. Gently insert each finger in-between the tips of each toe. A bit like how toe separators are inserted.
Then, slowly move your fingers down towards the base of the toes, causing them to spread further apart. This technique effectively massages the sides of each toe whilst also providing light lateral stretching.
Pause at the base of the toes and hold this position for about 5 seconds. Then lightly and smoothly extract your fingers by pulling the towards you and away from the foot.
Massaging your own, or a friend's feet, takes just 5 minutes per foot. If you have time to spare and you feel like you could do with some further foot therapy, then simply repeat the whole process from the start.
Use these free tips and techniques on yourself to grab a moment of pure and simple relaxation whilst at work or to quickly revive yourself after a long walk.
Or, if you are feeling generous and decide to use what you have learnt in the steps above to give someone else a treat, then it can be a great way to improve a relationship. Or help someone who has been feeling lonely or down, to feel more emotionally connected. This easy foot massage guide is also especially useful on special occasions like anniversaries or Valentine’s Day, allowing you to quickly and successfully fill a last minute gift gap!
Finally, don't worry if you get it slightly wrong the first few times. The worst you can probably do is end up tickling and since laughing is also good for health that's no bad thing either!