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The best way to the heart...

Is through the feet.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it's a good excuse to create a romantic night at home, treating your partner to a little pampering.

While many couples may decide to give one another a massage, it is often limited to the back and shoulders. More often than not the feet are neglected despite being one of the main areas to be in pain. When the feet are given a little bit of attention it can have reverberating effects into your posture and gait, in some cases, helping to alleviate chronic pain in other parts of the body.

Maybe your partner has a problem with their feet. Or, maybe it is as simple as they have worn restricting shoes recently or spent a long day on the job standing.  In any case, a therapeutic foot massage can go a long way to making a person not only feel cared for but also move them in the positive direction of being pain free.

There are definitely some hard and fast rules for the person giving the massage that, in our opinion, ensures the foot massage will be a success. First, make sure your hands and nails are clean.  If you have a nail fungus, it is best to abstain from giving the massage. Second, use a nice fragrance free oil or lotion. This not only helps with any friction and makes the massage easier, but can also be of help if your partner has a callous or two.  Lastly, light touch is not really useful. It can cause the other person to be ticklish and therefore not enjoy the massage, but also won’t work out any of the issues. (It should be noted, unless requested, a really firm touch should not be used either, as it may cause pain and more harm than good).

    • Start by soaking the feet in a tub of warm water for 10 minutes. You are welcome to add Epsom Salts to the water to start the relaxation process. Dry the foot thoroughly before starting the massage.
    • When you start the massage begin at the ankle. A light rub all around the ankle will start the release of tension and will loosen the tendons in that area. While you may not think it is being very helpful, the biggest help is that it is sending a message to the foot that it can start relaxing, too.
    • Begin the foot massage at the toes. Twist the foot such that the small toe is being pushed toward the sole of the foot, and back again. This is loosening the ligaments and supporting blood flow.
    • Next use the fingertip of your index or middle finger to gently get in between the metatarsals from the top of the foot. Use a small wiggling maneuver of the wrist. This will help to release any knots in the top of the foot and thereby allowing relief to any tension build-up from the day.
    • Lastly, for the toes, give each one a little attention. First, twist each toe to the left and the right. Then, gently push each toe toward the sole of the foot. Hold the toe in that position to give a bit of a stretch to the top of the toe. You can then stretch the toe in the other direction, just slightly hyper-extending them toward the top of the foot.
    • Once the top of the foot and the toes have been given their attention, move to the sole of the foot. Using your thumbs, gently press into the bottom of the foot and heel. Use small rotations, all over, to release any lingering tension.
    • Use your fist to massage the arch of the foot. Roll you hand back and forth to knead the skin gently.
    • You may also try the Petrissage technique for the bottom of the foot. This is best performed when the person is lying face down with their leg bent at a ninety degree angle at the knee. Stand at the feet, and hold the foot by one hand.  Using the knuckle of the hand, rotate in a circular motion, up and down the sole of the foot. This will release any remaining tension.
Please note, if your partner is suffering from plantarfasciitis, you want to be extremely gentle, unless told otherwise. This is a painful condition due to an over-stretching of the ligament that runs from the heel to the base of the toes.  While massage is a great way to release this tendon and relieve the pain, you want to make sure you a pressing at a level that is comfortable for your mate.

This should be an enjoyable experience for the person receiving the massage. Check in with them often to make sure the pressure is good for them. When you are done, take the time to wipe off any excess lotion or oil - this is beneficial to make sure their feet aren’t slippery when getting up, but also to prevent any (albeit, unlikely) occurrence of fungus. (Sorry for the digression away from romance).

From all of us at Evo Advanced Foot Surgery, we hope you have a very happy Valentine’s Day and use these techniques to give a little pampering to the one you love.

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