Massage therapy began thousands of years ago in ancient cultures who believed it came from divine origin, and used it as a natural way of healing injuries, relieving pain, and even curing illness. The first known recordings of massage were found in China and Egypt, and in fact, the Egyptians are credited with the creation of reflexology, a subset of massage that involves manipulation of acupressure points around the body.
Since then, massage has become a widely popular practice, all around the world. There are various types of massage including Swedish massage, deep massage, sports massage and trigger point massage, and all have varying benefits. The entire body can be massaged, and some studies believe massage may help issues like anxiety, digestion, headaches, insomnia, joint pain, soft tissue strain and much more. Foot massages especially can provide many health benefits.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of foot massage and reflexology.
1. Promotes Better Sleep
Sleep is vital to good health. It is impossible to be healthy when you’re lacking in the sleep department, because so many bodily processes occur while we’re asleep that when we don’t get enough, we begin to get run down. During sleep, our body is still working hard to heal damaged cells, recover from daily activity and recharge the brain and cardiovascular systems, readying us for the next day.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we begin to feel drowsy, irritable and often depressed. We might start struggling to understand or remember things, and we might crave more unhealthy foods which can contribute to weight gain. Many things can cause lack of sleep, such as stress, illness, medical issues or environmental factors like alcohol or drug use. It’s normal to have struggled with sleep every now and then, but if it happens too frequently it can become a real problem.
Not only does healthy sleep promote a healthy body, it also promotes a healthy mind. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people with insomnia are 10 times as likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression. Disrupted sleep can lead to emotional and physical changes, but luckily there are many different ways to get your sleeping back on track. Foot massage can benefit those with sleeping problems, and it’s easy enough to do every night before bed.
According to reflexology, there are certain pressure points that are also used in acupuncture to promote better sleep. Pay particular attention to the solar plexus, which can be found by squeezing the top of the foot gently and feeling for a small, dimpled space on the sole of the foot, near the big toe. This is the solar plexus, and it’s believed to encourage deep, restful sleep when it’s massaged. Do so by gently pressing in and massaging for at least one minute on each foot. Follow this with a whole-foot massage using warm coconut or olive oil.