How To Give A Foot Massage

What is it?

A foot massage is done by rubbing the feet with lotion or oil. Lanolin, cocoa butter, olive oil, or any body lotion may be used. There are also creams made especially for the feet. Ask the person receiving the massage if they are allergic to a lotion or oil before using it. There are also products that you may buy which are specially made to give foot massages. A foot massage should be given after the feet have been cleaned.

Why is a foot massage necessary?

The foot has 12 different muscles. The muscles are designed to support the weight of the body, and provide a movable platform on almost any surface. Having your feet massaged may help you relax, and may improve blood flow to your feet. Tender areas, or areas where muscles are tight or cramping may feel better after being massaged.

What needs to be done before the massage?

  • Remove all footwear, and wash and dry the feet. Ask your caregiver for more information about foot care and how to clean feet.

  • Warm the lotion by putting the bottle in a pan with warm water.

  • Help the person into a comfortable position in bed or a chair.

  • Keep a towel under the person's feet while doing the massage.

How do I give the massage?

Ask caregivers if it is OK to receive or give someone else a massage. Caregivers may not want a massage to be given if a foot is injured, or has sores on it. Caregivers may not want a massage to be given if another medical condition is present, like diabetes, gout, or cellulitis. If feet are swollen, or have blisters or warts on them, ask caregivers before giving a massage. The following steps may help you when giving a foot massage:

  • To massage the foot:

    • Put a small amount warm lotion in your hand. Check that it is not too hot or too cold. Hold one foot and smooth the lotion or oil over the foot.

    • Firmly hold the foot with both hands. Begin rubbing the top of the foot using a firm motion with your thumbs. Start at the tip of each toe and move slowly all the way up to the ankle. Moving in the direction of the toes, rub with a lighter stroke. This step can be repeated two or more times.

    • Continue to hold the foot with both hands and move your thumbs to the bottom of the foot. Rub the bottom of the foot starting at the tip of each toe and moving your thumbs firmly towards the heel. Go back in the direction of the toes rubbing the bottom of the foot with your thumbs. This step can be repeated two or more times.

    • Ask your caregiver if you can massage your feet at home by rolling them over a rolling pin. Be sure to sit down while you massage your feet with the rolling pin.

  • To massage the toes by pulling:

    • Hold the foot with one hand grasping it under the arch.

    • With your other hand, hold the big toe with your thumb on top, and index finger under.

    • Gently turn and pull the toe until you reach the end of the toe. Slide your thumb and index finger back to the base of the toe. Do this to each toe.

  • To massage the toes by sliding:

    • Hold the foot with one hand, forming a cradle behind the heel.

    • Put in the index finger of your other hand between the toes.

    • Move your finger towards the base of the toes and back toward the end of the toes. Repeat this move two or three times between all toes.

    • Gently put the foot next to the other foot.

    • Repeat all the above steps on the other foot.

After the massage:

  • Help the person back to a comfortable position in bed or chair. You may want to keep the feet raised on a footstool or chair.

  • You may put socks or slippers on the feet.

  • Clean and put away all items used.

Call your caregiver if:

There are new sores or redness on the feet.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your illness, injury, or surgery, and foot massage. You can then discuss your treatment and care options with your caregivers. You always have the right to refuse treatment.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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