We all know love can't be bought, and while it's lovely to receive a special pressie every now and then, let's face it, spending $200 on roses and chocolates isn't
a) in everyone's budget
b) isn't a great idea if your partner is on a diet or allergic to flowers
or c) isn't always the best way to show you care if your person is a teenager, older parent or aunty.
So, with Valentine's Day out of the way and the danger of this blog interfering with our February Gross National Profit figures, it's time to learn a very special and useful skill that I bet your mumma never taught you...
Welcome to foot massage 101 - learning to treat the tootsies of the one you love. (And no, we're not talking foot fetish or toe sucking people... this is purely about touch with a loving, caring intention - to make someone feel special. Nothing else. Got it?)
On that note, you can think of this as romance made practical, or as a caring, loving nurturing touch to share with any loved one or family member.... Foot massage is a perfect way to relax a stressed out teen, pamper an older parent or show love and kindness to your partner.
(Just a word of caution here - if you plan to use essential oils, be aware they should always be diluted in a carrier oil. Not all oils are suited to all people or medical conditions, so please do your homework here. Also, foot massage on a pregnant person is not advisable - check with a health professional before proceeding.)
Having said all that, most people would agree that a generous foot massage is a pretty nice way to finish a long, hard day. Even super ticklish people can often relax under a firm touch, but if there's just no getting near their feet, you could try a neck and shoulder massage with a relaxing scalp massage to finish.
Just remember it's about massaging with loving intention and taking your time.
Don't be rough, jerky or massage for two minutes and ask 'is that enough?' Think about slow, flowing hand movements, taking your time and giving all of your attention to the person you are pampering.
Ok, so, let's get started.
In my mind, there are four main steps to giving the perfect foot massage... and three of them don't involve massage.
1 - set the scene. Create a quiet space, set the mood and minimise the chance of interruptions. Burn some essential oils or incense. If it is an attempt to romance your partner, add some quiet background music, turn off the phones and maybe in this case, wait til the kids are in bed.
2 - explain what you are doing. Tell your person you would like to make them feel special and help them to relax. If it's a teenager, they might take some convincing... some love it, some don't - you'll know what yours is like! Littlies under about 8 or 9 tend to love a foot rub, bubbas even more so, especially just before bed time.
Special note here for the romancers: If the victim is your partner, you might want to emphasise the point that you AREN'T EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN. This is more important than you may think... your intention is what matters here. Most women I have asked say they know when their partner offers them a massage, they usually mean 'special massage' not just a relaxing foot rub. It will mean more if you don't expect it to 'mean more'... so, in case you hadn't got the message yet...all you are doing here is helping them to relax with a loving foot or shoulder massage.
3- technique & timing (I'll help you with that in a moment)
4 - clean up and caring. After all, there's no point relaxing your partner, teen, or Aunty Mary, making them feel loved and cared for, then walking off with a 'job done' attitude leaving them to clean up a mess. Total waste of time.
Setting the scene.
Now this will vary, depending on who you are massaging.
If you want to go full on relax mode, you can try dimming the lights, lighting the candles, burning some essential oils in a diffuser, having quiet music playing and maybe a glass of wine or tea and a comfy chair. Grab some massage oil or body lotion, a cushion, covered by a towel for their tootsies and make sure you are showered, clean and relaxed. Oh and if possible, the pets are elsewhere and the phones and TV are definitely off.
Explain what you are doing
Tell your person you'd like to treat them to a lovely foot massage and maybe suggest they have a nice long shower while you set up. (This also makes sure their feet are clean in case you are feeling a little foot phobic.)
Technique and timing
A rushed or careless massage is no fun for anyone.
Take your time. I'm talking at least 15minutes per foot. We need a smooth and flowing motion and a firm pressure... but we aren't talking deep tissue massage here, just firm enough not to be ticklish.
No chatting, no grabbing, pulling or poking. Just firm, relaxed pressure.
And please people, watch for their reaction. Don't get so focussed in what you are doing that you forget there is a person attached to that foot. If they are squirming, jumpy or doing anything other than relaxing, foot massage might not be for them, so ask the question and be ready to bail if need be - don't be offended if this happens - foot massage isn't for everyone and they will love the fact that you bothered to try at all :)
Sit yourself on the lounge or bed, facing your person, at their feet. Have the oil or lotion within reach. Place the cushion on your lap, with the towel on top and carefully take your partner's foot by cradling the heel gently and place it on the towel.
While there's no right or wrong to the actual massage techniques you use, you may feel more comfortable with some basics to retreat back to if you get stuck for what to do. So, let's dive in.
Massage move 1 - relax the arch.
Start by using the thumbs of both hands to work up the arch of the foot from the heel end of the arch to the base of the big toe. Use slow, deliberate waves of firm pressure. Move across the arch of the foot as you continue with slow waves of upward pressure, to cover the whole mid-section of the foot. Ask your person if the pressure is OK and adjust accordingly.
Massage move two - thumbprints on the heel.
Alternating thumbs, press into the heel of the foot ... pretend you are texting in slow, deliberate presses, all over the heel. Cup your hands under the heel to support the foot while massaging around both sides of the heel with the thumbs in small circular movements. Don't forget to keep the pressure firm enough to avoid the tickle-factor.
Massage move three - outward pull, ball of the foot.
With the thumbs together in the centre of the ball of the foot, and the finger wrapped around the top of the foot, slowly apply pressure and drag your thumbs in opposite directions in an outward motion to the edges of the foot. Repeat this slowly 5-8 times.
Massage move four - top of the foot.
Gently bend the foot down (without hurting your partner or reefing their foot downward) position your fingers under the foot on either side and thumbs together in the middle top of the foot and again, drag outwards across the top of the foot. Repeat this slowly, several times before alternating thumbs dragging upwards gently between the tendons at the top of the foot towards the base of the toes. The top of the foot often gets left out, so take some time here.
Massage move five - finish with the lower legs
Work your hands around the ankles with your fingertips circling the ankle bones on either side and outside of the foot simultaneously. Five or six slow, deliberate circles will work well here. From there, using your thumbs, drag them up the lower legs in either side of the shin. Work half way up the calves, with your thumbs, drag your fingers down and repeat. Slowly and deliberately.
Repeat all this until you've spent around 15 minutes on the first foot, then use the towel to gently pat the foot dry and lift it gently off the cushion, replacing it with the second foot. Repeat all of the steps to make the second foot feel lovely and relaxed.
Finish by patting the second foot down with the towel. Ask your partner if you can get them anything, tell them you love/appreciate them, return their feet to the bed or lounge, grab the towel, cushion and oil/lotion and leave the room quietly.
Now, here's the big trick - leave them alone. They are probably nice and relaxed, they feel loved and cared for and you need to let them enjoy this bliss for a little moment, without chattering, clanging plates in the kitchen breaking the mood by switching the lights or to on.
And there you have it..
Foot massage for absolute beginners - a perfect way to show you care to anyone of any age. Good luck!
I'd love to hear how you go...
See you in the clinic,