Massage has many therapeutic benefits, ranging from the promotion of rest and relaxation to improvement of circulation in various organs in the body. Adults aren’t the only ones who benefit from therapeutic massage, even infants as well! According to traditional Chinese medicine, the feet benefit most from massage, because of the belief that the soles of feet are connected to different systems in the body and stimulating a particular area of the foot also stimulates a specific organ or system.
Foot massage is an excellent way to promote relaxation, blood flow, and over-all wellbeing in people of different ages and with different health conditions. Even if you are physically healthy, you will still be able to benefit from a daily foot massage by improving your mental and emotional health. A simple self-administration of foot massage for 10 to 15 minutes each day before bed can do wonders for your health.
Over the past several decades, there have been numerous studies done on the therapeutic benefits of touch and massage. They focus on the physical and psychological benefits of massage on a variety of health conditions and ages:
Scientific Research On Foot Massage
– A 2014 study on the geriatric population of a care facility showed that a 15 minute massage was able to improve their physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.
– A 2015 study on Chinese massage revealed that it is able to stimulate the body’s parasympathetic response (the rest and relaxation response), with the effects reaching their peak after 10 minutes. Heart rate was significantly reduced as well.
– A study on self-acupressure in 2015 revealed that it was able to alleviate the signs and symptoms of different conditions – from allergies, nausea, vomiting, pain, and stress in healthy subjects.
– A 2014 study on infants with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and massage therapy revealed a decrease in GERD signs and symptoms and infant stress and an increase in weight after regular massage was done for 30 minutes each session, for six weeks.
– After a period of two weeks wherein diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy were administered Thai foot massages, the subjects’ range of motion, balance, and foot sensation improved significantly. In fact, results were seen as early as after the first session.
– Post-operative pain is a common problem among surgical patients, especially those affected with cancer. According to Ucuzal and Kanan (2014), foot massage was able to reduce pain scores and vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate) after five minutes of foot massage, effectively reducing post-operative pain in post-operative breast cancer patients.
– Another common problem among surgical patients is pre-operative anxiety. Patients undergoing either major or minor surgery often experience some form of anxiety. In a 2014 study, anxiety levels were significantly reduced after 20-minute sessions over four days. A decrease in anxiety was also seen in the experiement’s control group who were given gentle foot rubs with oil for one minute over the same period of time.
– Foot massage was studied in relation to patients affected by dementia, showing a positive change in alertness, relaxation, and mood compared to a therapeutic technique called quiet presence.
Foot Massage Before Bed
The most beneficial time to receive a massage is at night. Why? According to a study published in 2013 about the best massage timing, massage is most beneficial when performed after an exercise, because the benefits are reaped after strenuous activity. This concept can be applied to simple activities of daily living — your body is in the best condition to receive the benefits of a foot massage at the end of the day, after all your activities have been done and it’s a perfect way to relax and nurture in preparation for a restful sleep.