Feet are perfectly engineered to do their job of providing stability and mobility to our whole body. They contain thousands of nerve endings, help us stay up against gravity all day, and yet, feet are probably the most ignored part of the body. As a yoga teacher, I shower feet with a lot of attention in my classes and am amazed at how many people have never given them a second thought.
This simple five-step routine says thank you to your feet for supporting your body weight all day long. It can also be done by people who are not able to walk and works very well for people with decreased sensation or decreased blood flow in their feet.
Sit comfortably in a chair or in bed for this routine that will provide you with deep relaxation to leave you feeling refreshed. You can exchange this simple foot massage with your partner as well. In my house, a foot massage is what we bet on for every difference of opinion! Children who grow up appreciating a good foot massage every night have a natural calming and relaxation technique to turn to for the rest of their lives.
You will need to be able to bring your feet close to your body by crossing it over your knee for this routine, so people with total hip replacements should check with their doctor prior to doing this movement.
1. Bring your right foot up on your left knee. Hold your foot with one or both hands and sit like this while you take five to ten deep breaths and feel a gentle opening of the right hip.
2. Use your left hand to massage the foot using your thumb and tips of all fingers. You can use your right hand to stabilize the foot. You can also use your knuckles to provide extra pressure. Use the amount of pressure that feels good. Feet are built to withstand a lot of pressure. Massage the bottom of your foot like this for two to four minutes.
3. Grab all five toes with your left hand and gently push them up and down 10-20 times. You can also weave your five fingers through your five toes and stretch all the tiny muscles in your toes with an interesting little foot handshake.
4. Lower your grip to the center of the foot and make your ankle go in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise 10 times each.
5. Repeat on the other foot. You can use any kind of massage oil or lotion for this routine but it is not necessary. It is best done at night before hitting the pillow to allow for complete relaxation. Follow it with some deep breathing and/or meditation to get a deeper and more refreshing sleep at night.
If you are unable to bring your feet up towards your knee, try using a tennis ball as a massager for your foot. A tennis ball works best because of its perfect foot size and also because it has a little give to it. You can sit in a chair and put the tennis ball under your foot. Push the ball down with the ball of your foot; move your toes up and down 10-20 times. Roll the ball forward and back gently with your whole foot and in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise. This is an effective alternative to the massage listed above.
Start loving your feet today!
About the writer: Ritu Kapur is an occupational therapist and a certified Yoga teacher who likes to teach gentle and therapeutic yoga to people with injuries and disabilities in group or private settings. She is the co-founder of Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio in Westborough, MA. Visit www.Sohum.org or email [email protected]