Foot Massage

How To Give A Foot Massage

A foot massage is a great way to pamper someone special and help them unwind after a long day. As an added benefit, foot massages can also help to treat issues like headaches, insomnia, and stress.Start by massaging the tops of the feet as well as the heels, soles, toes. You can do deeper massage moves on the ankles, soles, and pressure points to release any tension and create a positive massage experience for the person.

If you’re considering booking a reflexology treatment, you might have a lot of questions. What exactly is reflexology? What are the benefits? And is it just another word for a foot massage?

There’s a lot to dig into, but we’ll cover the basics of what you need to know about reflexology in this article.

What is reflexology?

In reflexology, pressure is applied to specific reflex points on the foot. These points correspond to organs and areas of the body. The treatment is said to induce a healing response, even alleviating some ailments.

Reflexology is one of the most popular types of massage. Beyond the feel-good effects of the treatment, the practice and purpose go deeper than the skin and muscles. Kneading the soft fleshy ball of the foot, pulling on the toes, tracing around the heel and pushing deep into the arch are just a few of the movements you’ll experience during a treatment.

But what is all of that for? Well, there is a method to the treatment, and it all revolves around the charted areas of your foot.

Understanding a foot reflexology chart

The image on the left is an example of a reflexology foot chart or map. It shows which part of the foot connects to each organ or area of the body.


A reflexologist will use a diagram like this one during the session. Reflexologists sometimes also work on the hands or ears to trigger relaxation, but foot reflexology is the most common treatment.

As you can see, there’s a spot on the map for every organ or system in the body. A reflexologist can treat specific parts of your body by targeting that area of the foot.

How reflexology differs from a foot massage

These two treatments might seem similar, but there are some key differences. Both can be beneficial! Here’s what you can expect during a foot massage versus a reflexology massage.

Massage therapy is the manipulation of tissues to relax the muscles, relieve tension, and improve circulation. This can improve overall health and well-being.

Reflexology, on the other hand, uses a targeted, pressure-point massage to restore the flow of energy throughout the body. The treatment usually focuses on the feet, but it can also include the hands and ears.

There can be many potential benefits of this kind of treatment, which leads to the next question you might be asking.

What are the benefits?

Reflexology can address anything from headaches to sinus problems to stomach issues. If sensitivity or tenderness is experienced when an area is stimulated, it usually indicates bodily weaknesses or imbalances within the corresponding organ.

With repeated pressure and manipulation of nerve endings, reflexology can help to clear any channels of blocked energy. It is said to do so through moving the flow of blood, nutrients and nerve impulses. This ultimately improves overall health and balance.

Other potential benefits:
Cleanse the body of toxins
Boost the immune system
Increase circulation
Promote healing
Balance energy

What to Expect At the spa

Ok, so you’re ready to book a reflexology massage. There’s a lot to know about booking a treatment and what one is like. We’ll take a detailed look at everything you need to know about the process so there are no surprises.

Things to know before you go
To be effective, a reflexology practitioner must be certified and understand the meridians related to each pressure point.

Most spas offer reflexology. At Spafinder, we make it super easy to find popular spas with the services you want. Use our search tool to find a spa near you, read reviews, and book a session online.

But you might have some questions about the treatment. Let’s answer those.

How much does a reflexology massage cost?

Similar to any spa treatment or massage therapy, prices for reflexology will vary from spa to spa. However, the pricing is usually similar to a traditional massage. You can expect to pay anywhere from $40-90 for a 1-hour session, or $30-50 for a 30-minute session.

What is a reflexology session like?

The treatment typically lasts approximately 30 minutes, but it can last up to an hour. Have a conversation with your reflexologist beforehand to discuss issues like constipation, tension headaches or trouble sleeping.

During the session, you’re clothed and seated or lying down. The therapist will rub, press on and squeeze points on your feet. The therapist may concentrate on specific areas to alleviate ailments. For example, if you have sinus trouble, she’ll focus on your toes. But the therapist might also work on the whole foot in order to strengthen every system in the body.

Important Things to Remember:

Wait at least one hour after the massage before eating
Don’t receive reflexology if you are pregnant. Try a prenatal massage instead.
Drink water following the treatment to eliminate toxins and lactic acid buildup that occurs during the massage
Consult a doctor first if you have foot problems, an injury or a blood vessel disease associated with clots or varicose veins

Massaging the Foot’s Top, Heel, Sole, and Toes

Rub the top of the foot with your thumbs. Start at the tip of the toe and move slowly up to their ankle. Move back down their foot, starting from their ankle. Apply firm pressure with your thumbs, cupping their foot in your hands.

  • Move up and down their foot two to three times. Keep their foot close to your chest area, with your body leaning towards them. This will help you apply the right amount of pressure to their foot.
  • Make sure you use the strength of your body weight, rather than the muscles in your thumbs, to massage their feet. Using only the muscles in your thumbs can cause them to cramp up and get tired easily.
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Massage the arches of the foot. Use your thumbs to apply light pressure to the arch of their foot, right below the ball of their foot. Move one thumb clockwise and the other thumb counterclockwise in small circles. Do this for at least 30 seconds.

  • Place your thumbs on opposite ends of their foot and move them toward one another. Do this at least three to five times, moving up and down the bottom of their feet.
  • Make sure you are gripping their feet firmly and with some pressure as you massage them. Light, soft touches can be ticklish to most people and distract from the massage.
  • If the person has any sore spots on their feet, do not put too much pressure on them as this can irritate the area.
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Rub the heels of the foot. Move your thumbs up and down their Achilles tendon, which runs from the heel and ankle up to the calf muscle. Rub the heel of their foot in circular motions using your thumbs.

  • You may need to lift their foot up with one hand so you can access their heel.
  • The skin on this area tends to be dry or hard, so you can apply massage oil or lotion to your hands to help reduce any friction.
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Squeeze and pull each toe. Hold their foot with one hand, right under the arch. With your other hand, place your thumb on top of their big toe. Your index finger should be underneath their big toe. Rotate the toe slightly to one side and pull the toe from top to bottom. Go back to the top of the toe and squeeze it with your thumb and pointer finger. Do this for each toe to help loosen and relax them.

  • Do not yank on the person’s toes, as this can injure them. Instead, simply rotate, pull, and squeeze each toe slightly, applying even pressure.
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Slide up and down each toe with your fingers. Hold the foot with one hand, right behind the heel. Place the index finger of your other hand between the person’s toes. Slide your finger toward the base of the toes and then back toward the end of the toes. Do this two to three times between their toes.

  • Make sure you use your body weight to apply even pressure as you slide up and down their toes.
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Focus on one foot at a time. Leave the other foot soaking in warm water or relaxed on the pillow. Do a basic massage on one foot first and then turn your attention to the other foot. Repeat the same movements for each foot so that they both feel equally relaxed.
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Expert Advice

Use these tips to give a relaxing foot massage:

  • Work the calf first to loosen the foot muscles. A person’s foot muscles are often too tight to start the massage there. You can loosen these muscles by applying pressure to the calf muscles, which are connected to the foot. This will loosen the foot muscles so you can move down and give a much more soothing massage.
  • Focus on the area just above the heel. This part of the foot is where the plantar fascia muscles are. These muscles connect the heel to the toes and support your foot arch. Applying pressure here works well to relieve foot pain and cramping.
  • Use your elbow to give parts of the massage. Have the person you’re massaging lie face down and use your elbow, which has a broader surface to do a couple of initial, gentle strokes. Use this technique to check where the person has pain and whether their feet are overly sensitive to pressure.
  • Try using your fists, too. Stand over the person and hold your arm out straight. Use your knuckles to massage from the heel down toward the toes with a broad stroke. Check-in with the other person throughout the process to make sure their feet aren’t cramping and that they don’t feel any pain.