Massage therapy is a form of treatment that involves the manipulation of the muscles and soft tissues of the body. It is performed to help people relax, relieve stress and pain, rehabilitate sports injuries, deal with anxiety and depression, and help with overall general health and wellness.
Types of Foot Massage
There are many different forms of foot massage therapy and some of the more common include:
- Swedish massage uses long strokes, kneading, tapping, vibration, and deep circular movements.
- Sports massage uses a technique similar to Swedish massage but is specifically adapted to meet the athlete's needs.
- Gliding strokes on top of your foot and deeper strokes with the fist around the ankle and sole of the foot.
- Lymphatic drainage massage uses light strokes which help reduce edema around the foot and ankle. It provides relief for those who are involved in prolonged standing jobs, or for pregnant women who experience fluid build-up.
- Reflexology adds a therapeutic value to reinforce what is already done.
Massage therapists practice in a variety of settings such as private offices, studios, hospitals, nursing homes, and sports and fitness centers. Some massage therapists may also travel to a patient’s home or workplace to provide services.
Preparation before Massage Therapy
Massage therapists will ask questions about symptoms, previous medical history, and the desired results from the massage. To locate the painful or tense areas and to find out how much pressure to apply, your massage therapist may also perform an evaluation through touch.
Massage therapy can last for 1 hour or longer and is usually performed on a massage table lying down or while you are seated in a massage chair. The patient is usually undressed (covered with a sheet, except the area being massaged) or wears loose-fitting clothes. Your massage therapist may use massage oils, lotions or creams to reduce friction on your skin.
Possible side-effects associated with massage therapy include temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling and a sensitivity or allergy to massage oils.
The following cautions should be considered before undergoing massage therapy:
- Avoid vigorous massage if you have bleeding disorders or low blood platelet counts and if you are taking blood-thinning medications.
- Do not massage an open wound or any area of the body with blood clots, fractures, skin infections or weakened bones, or at the site of recent surgery.
- If you have a chronic condition such as cancer, talk to your doctor before having massage therapy.
- If you are pregnant, inform your massage therapist.