THE ART OF FOOT MASSAGE

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    Warning: This massage is not meant for women that are pregnant. There are pressure points in the feet and hands that stimulate contractions and can cause serious damage to the unborn child. If someone you know is pregnant and would like a foot massage, find a Certified Massage Therapist who specializes in Pregnancy Massage. Do not follow this protocol.

    By Wendy Edwards
    Part of giving a great massage is being able to set a mood and focus apart from everything else going on. Use dim lighting, tranquil music, and if you are using a small amount of oil or lotion, choose scent that you both find pleasing.

    Before the massage, free yourselves from distractions. Try taking deep, restful breaths. Upon releasing them, let your arms and shoulders rest. Let your head roll on your neck a little. Loosen up your hip joints.

    Massage Terms:

    Effleurage is a broad massage stroke used to warm up the muscle before doing any deeper work. This is a soothing, stroking movement that can be either firm or light, without dragging the skin, and is performed using either the padded parts of the finger tips, the palms, or the entire hand.

    Petrissage consists of kneading and rubbing parts of the body to increase circulation and promote relaxation. The massage motion includes gently lifting the skin and squeezing or rolling it between thumbs and fingers.

    Your lover’s feet may be on your lap, or this will work with her reclining face up. Rub your hands together to warm them and when you’re both ready, begin:

    General Warming: Effleurage from your partner’s foot to her knee with warmed hands. Petrissage your way back to her foot with general kneading. When you come to the foot, use thumb over thumb strokes down the soles of the foot, keep going until your thumbs work right off of the heel. Repeat these strokes until you notices that your partner is relaxed and there is a release of muscle tension in response to your movement.

    On the Outer Side: Use one hand to turn her foot inward. Effleurage with your other hand from the side of her foot, all along the side of her calf, keeping the foot turned. Glide your hand back to her foot and then follow the same procedure with Petrissage. Let her foot return to normal position and apply a few gentle strokes over the work you just did.

    Mmm, Ankles: Slide your open hands from the top of her foot to the curves of her ankle, then linger there. Let your fingertips circle each side of her ankle again and again. Keep your hands moving at the same pace and in the same direction (as if massaging someone’s temples).

    Soften the Achilles: From her ankle, you can move your hands toward her knee for a few, broad strokes. Upon return, let your hands move behind her leg. Pull one of your hands back to cradle the heel of her foot. Allow your other hand to lag behind and knead gently at the tough Achilles tendon. Switch your hands placement and allow your other one to do a little kneading.

    Check in on Your Massage: Talk to each other during the massage. Let her know that it helps when she tells you what feels good, and what doesn’t. Ask her whether she would like you to change the pressure or pace of the massage.

    Great Stress Relief: Next, with both hands, hold your lover’s foot as though it is a sandwich. Your thumbs will be against the sole of her foot while your fingers lay across the top. In one motion, squeeze with your fingers, pulling your hands down and away from either side of her foot. As your fingers slide off, use your thumbs to press deeply into the sole of her foot. Do this at the top and middle of her foot, and again below that. Give two broad strokes over her ankles, her leg, and back again, connecting all of the work you’ve done so far.

    Both of you should be feeling comfortable by now. Check to see whether you can make eye contact and smile.

    Those Cute Toes: Effleurage back to the very tips of her feet. When you come to her toes, give the entire set a comfortable squeeze – being careful not too grasp too tightly. Crowding the toes together can hurt.

    If she isn’t reeling back from feeling tickled, there is a good chance you can curl your fingertips around one toe at a time. Squeeze each toe in turn, slowly pulling toward you until the toe is no longer in your grasp.

    In between each toe is very sensitive space. For drier feet, be sure your thumb tips are damp with oil or lotion, then press the pad of your thumb into the webs between each toe, applying firm, but cautious pressure.

    Important Places: Remember the foot sandwich? Place your hands on either side of her foot again just like that. Your fingers on top, thumbs against her sole. Use your thumbs to press into any places along her sole that can use some loosening up. Common spaces are along her arch, in between the foot bones in the pad of her foot, and deep into the cushion of the heel.

    If your thumbs get tired, switch to lighter strokes that involve your full hands or fingers only to give them a rest. Finish tending to the whole sole by making a fist and gliding your knuckles from her toes to her heel a time or two.

    The Hardworking Heel: Finally, show some affection for the heel of the foot. You can easily hold her heel in one hand while cradling her ankle in the other. Squeeze the back of her heel in the palm of your hand. You can increase pressure, if she likes. Follow up with soothing rubs from your fingertips.

    Finishing Touches: As you come to a close, think “finesse” for the finish. Use long, gliding strokes that include her foot and lower leg all the way up to her knee. When you gently replace her foot to where it was resting, remove only one of your hands. Place your other hand on her waiting foot as a promise of what’s to come!

    Give yourselves a moment or two to share a smile or a kiss, then practice this massage on her other foot.

    Special thanks for the above Photograph: (CC) Grace Dolcini “Slightly Amazing Grace”

COMMENTS

2 Responses to The Art of Foot Massage

  • Liz wrote on February 7, 2011 at 2:40 // Reply

    Wow. I’m relaxed just READING that.

    • Wendy wrote on February 9, 2011 at 2:37 // Reply

      I am so glad to hear that, Liz!

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