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How to Give a Foot Massage

Three Parts:Preparing for the massageGiving a basic foot massageMastering other techniques

There's no better way to treat a friend or loved one than to give their sore feet a wonderful foot massage. Here are a few techniques for giving a foot massage anyone would enjoy.

Part 1
Preparing for the massage

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    Put the person into the proper position. Begin with having them lay in the supine position, on their back with face up, then have him or her remove his or her shoes and socks. Over the course of the massage they will rotate onto their stomach to allow for different movements of the feet and ankles to take place.
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    Cover the resting area of the foot with a towel. This will help to prevent any cream or massage oil from staining the work area.
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    Give a foot bath. Allow feet to soak in a tub of warm to hot water for up to ten minutes.
    • Add scented essential oils or foaming gel to the water if preferred.
    • Softly rub the feet after soaking to remove any dirt while helping the person to relax.
    • Towel dry feet when finished.
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    Choose a cream, oil, or lotion to work with. Creams tend to be thicker than lotions and work well for foot massages. Oils work to soften the rough calluses on the bottom of feet.
    • You can purchase creams and oils that are created for the purpose of foot massages at many beauty supply stores.
    • Create your own unique combination of creams and oils to use for the foot massage. Combine scents to your liking; some favorite combinations are lemon and eucalyptus, lavender, or almond and vanilla.
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    Warm the oil or cream. This will make it more comfortable for the person receiving the massage.

Part 2
Giving a basic foot massage

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    Hold the bottom of the foot with both hands. Begin rubbing the top of the foot, slowly working your way down to the sole of the foot. Apply more pressure as you get closer to the sole. Reverse directions and rub the foot moving slowly towards the top, reducing pressure as you go.
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    Rub the heel of the foot. Use your thumbs for this, making small circles with medium to heavy pressure. Work your way around the entire heel. Repeat this action on the ball of the foot.[1]
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    Use cross-fiber friction on the heels of the feet. This means you use your thumbs to push up and down on the heel. While one thumb is pushing up, the other should be pushing down.
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    Massage around the ankle bone. Use both hands to rub in a circular motion around the bone on either side, and gently rub your fingers over the top of the bone.
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    Use a fist to massage the arch of the foot. With your hand closed in a fist, use the tops of your fingers to apply pressure to the arch. Roll your hand back and forth to knead the skin gently.[2]
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    Massage the toes. Spend time on each individual toe.
    • Go to each toe and gently pull on it. This may cause the joint to pop, but unless it causes the person discomfort, continue to do this to each toe.
    • Slide your index finger in the gap between each toe. Spend time moving it back and forth, rubbing the base of each toe with your index and thumb if desired.
    • Gently slide all five fingers between each of the toes simultaneously, while rubbing a small amount of massage oil or cream between each one. [3]

Part 3
Mastering other techniques

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    Apply the milking stroke. To do this, hold the foot in both hands and give ten short, strong pulls on one side and then the other. Imagine the pulling motion of milking a cow while doing this.
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    Use the Indian rub technique. Hold the side of the foot with both thumbs placed on the inside center of the arch. Move your hands back and forth as if you were wringing out a wet towel. Allow a lot of movement of the foot while applying this technique.
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    Try petrissage on the achilles tendon and lower foot. Petrissage is a type of massage that involves lifting and squeezing muscles to stimulate them.
    • Starting at the back of the heel and ankle around the achilles tendon, use one hand to gently squeeze and pull the foot. Start softly, but apply more pressure and speed the longer you do it.
    • Push the muscles starting at the achilles tendon and working towards the toes. Doing this will lift the muscles of the foot, helping to work out impurities.
    • Slowly work your way up to the lower calf using this technique. The muscles here attach to those in the foot, and using petrissage in this area can help to further relax the foot.
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    Massage the long muscle of the foot. The long muscle begins near the achilles tendon and ends at the knee, and is closely tied to muscle movements in the foot.
    • Have your partner straighten their leg vertically, and use your forearm to apply pressure downward into the foot. Slowly move your arm so as to use your elbow to apply more pressure into the foot.
    • With your partner laying down, grab their foot with one hand at the heel, with the foot running up your forearm. Push their whole foot towards the knee, applying light pressure at first and slowly adding more.
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    Perform ankle rotations. Hold the foot up, and use one hand to rotate the foot around the ankle. Move the foot in circles ten times in one direction, and then ten times in the opposite direction. The ankle joints may pop, but unless this causes the person any discomfort there is no need to stop. [4]
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    Give a foot massage using an electric massager. Add the usual requirements (see manufacturer's instructions) and also put a little Epsom salts and spa oil in the foot massager's base. Leave feet in for 20 minutes. They should feel wonderfully rejuvenated; finish up with a friend or family member massaging your nicely cleaned feet.


  • Try to give equal attention to both feet, as the body abhors asymmetry.
  • Have the receiver lean back against a pillow or a couch, and make sure he or she is relaxed and comfortable. Consider including some relaxing background music or lightly scented candles to set the atmosphere.
  • Throughout massage, if you feel tension building up in your hands, periodically shake hands loose of energy and continue massage.
  • When you wipe their feet,a hot towel might feel nice.
  • Massage slowly and gently to induce relaxation, and massage more quickly but deeply to induce stimulation.
  • Use a calm, soothing voice while giving the massage. Don't speak too rapidly or in a strained voice. Let whatever you say soothe the receiver of your massage even further.
  • Make sure your patient clears their mind of all stress.
  • Something useful and effective is playing soft music while giving the massage.
  • Look at the person - make eye contact - smile at them. It induces confidence and trust in your massage, and a sense of companionship and wellbeing.
  • Put on some relaxing music! It helps relax the person.
  • Speak nice to them and treat them with respect!
  • Continuously ask the receiver if they are enjoying the massage. They may have painful corns and pressure points on the bottom of their feet you must be careful not to hurt them if you are not professionally trained.
  • Massage for a long time, don't rush it.
  • Don't spend too long doing the same technique. You will over work it and end making the receiver uncomfortable.
  • Dim lights while massaging; It may help relax the person.


  • Do not overuse the oil or cream, or your hands will be too slippery to give an effective massage.
  • Be careful not to use too much pressure so as not to cause discomfort, but apply enough pressure so as not to tickle the soles. This can ruin the mood.
  • Make sure that the knees of the receiver are not locked (stretched all the way) while you massage. It will make them stiff and inhibit the blood circulation. Place a cushion or a rolled-up towel under the knee of the leg/foot you're massaging to help keep it relaxed and slightly bent.
  • If the receiver's feet are painful or overly sensitive, seek medical advice or care from a professional.
  • If you are massaging a person who is either pregnant or suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes, avoid using strong pressure on the feet, as this could induce labor in pregnant women or aggravate existing health conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Towels
  • Cream and/or oil
  • Warm water in a tub or basin

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