How to Give A Foot Massage [Infographic, Video, & Guide]

How to Give A Foot Massage [Infographic, Video, & Guide]

But whilst we know what we're doing, we know that to the general public, massage can seem somewhat of a dark art. British comedian, James Acaster demonstrates on BBC's Live at The Apollo some of the questionable massage techniques some partners find themselves using when attempting to give their other half a romantic, sensual backrub… (Fast forward to 1:13 for his massage skit or watch the whole thing for some more laughs)

So that's why we've decided to create a short tutorial showing the average Joe how to do a lovely foot massage in a simple, step by step guide.

Tending to an individual's feet has long been a humbling sign of respect, and that's why we think giving a foot massage one of the most caring massages you can give - plus they are really simple to do once you know how. Whilst a foot massage isn't quite in the same league as a full backrub (it's not even the same sport) it's still a really beautiful way to soothe away weekday stress and look after your partner, friend or loved one. Check out our video guide below.

What you need to give a foot massage

Not much! All you need is a towel and your choice of oil: baby oil is cheap and readily available online or in most supermarkets, or you can opt for grapeseed or almond oil.

The only other thing you need is a few massage techniques to bring to your command and some understanding of foot massage, so you not only know what feels good, but also what not to do! Then when the time is right you can show off your incredible skills and wow your loved one.

How to give a foot massage

Below is our video tutorial, but before we get to that, there's a few key tips you'll need to know:

  • Press gently but firmly - this not only shows confidence in your movements, it also means that you're less likely to tickle sensitive feet
  • Don't be afraid! You can massage any part of the feet, because all skin has nerve endings and so soft touch will always stimulate a relaxing response. The fear comes with pressing hard on bones, which can be painful, so go gently and you can't go wrong.
  • Be attentive - see how the person reacts to your movements in certain areas, try different pressures and ask them to let you know what they like best. Massage is a very personal act, and every body is different, so all treatments should be bespoke.

So let's get to the massage techniques and movements you can use to give an amazing foot massage straight away. You can also check out our infographic below for some visual pointers on where and how to press for each of the moves. 

Oil up your hands

To start you'll need to oil up your hands and warm up the oil a little, as it can be cold coming straight out of the bottle, so rub your hands together a little first.

Warm up the feet

Rub the top and bottom of the feet - Begin by gently rubbing one hand over the top of the feet and the other up the bottom and around the back of the ankle - this movement is called ephlorage and helps spread the oil and warm the foot " Rub the sides of the feet - You can then continue these wide ephlorage rubs on the side of the foot, with hands running up either side of the foot

Top of the foot massage

  • Alternating thumbs - The first move demonstrated in the above video (best seen at 3:10) are some alternating thumb movements which are a type of what is called petrissage. To do this rub alternate arcs up and down the top of the foot, ensuring to keep the moves smooth and soft.
  • Metacarpal sweeps - Next run your fingers up between the bones of the feet (called the metacarpals). Do this by starting just above the gaps between the toes and running your thumbs down the foot in long alternate strokes.
  • Circular metacarpal movements - Then follow the same lines along the metacarpals up and down the foot but this time doing circular thumb motions, following the movements round to the side of the foot. You can reinforce your thumb by resting the other hand on the back of the massaging hand for a more comfortable and firm massaging position if you wish.

Massaging the bottom of the foot

  • Gentle palm press to begin - Run the hand along the foot and around the back of the heel, sweeping under the foot and press gently as you pull it forward
  • Circular sweeps - Imagine five points along the foot, and then press firmly in a sweeping circle around those five points. See the infographic above for details.
  • Point presses - Now work your way along the same points, working them through with your thumbs. These points are called meridian points, and massaging these is a way of bringing chi to the individual by releasing stress through these spiritual points.
  • Cross presses - Sweep your thumbs across the feet horizontally in opposite directions. Travel this movement up and down the feet.
  • Knuckle rubs - Close your hand into a fist and use the joints of your fingers instead of your thumb for a firmer touch, following the same points as before, up and down the foot.
  • Transition with some broad ephlorage sweeps over and under the foot, and along the sides

Toe massage

  • Coin movements & toe pulls - For this you will do what is called a coin movement, quite simply named for the shape you make (best seen at 4:40). Hold the foot with one hand, and with the other, work down each individual toe rubbing the thumb in small circular coin-shaped motions right down to the end of the toe. To finish each toe, squeeze the toe firmly between thumb and forefinger and pull away from the foot, increasing pressure until you finally let go. Repeat for all toes.
  • For a bonus move, you can go back and repeat the above motions on the sides of the toes, pulling and rubbing with both thumb and forefinger until you let go. Some may find this ticklish, but if you are firm, it should be a wonderful move since the area between the toes is more sensitive to touch and so this will offer a lovely sensation.

Bonus bits

Want to do more? Spend some extra time in these areas to really put the cherry on top!

  • Rub the heel - spend time firmly massaging the pad at the heel of the foot. You can do this with alternate thumb rubs, knuckle rubs or palm rubs (use the heel of your hand). Whichever movement you choose, work your way around the edge of the pad (which are the more sensitive areas), and press firmly in the centre.
  • Rub the fleshy part of the foot - once you've spent some time at the heel, move to the middle, more fleshy part of the foot, where lots of people hold a lot of tension.

To summarise:

  • Oil your hands and warm the oil
  • Rub the top and bottom of the feet
  • Rub the sides of the feet
  • Alternating thumb sweeps across the feet
  • Sweep up between the bones of the feet
  • Rub circular motions between the bones of the feet
  • Gently sweep and press under the foot to begin massaging the underside of the foot
  • Do circular presses along the underside of the foot around 5 meridian points
  • Do alternating thumb presses along these points
  • Alternating thumb sweeps across the foot horizontally, up and down the foot
  • Knuckle rubs up and down the feet " Sweeping movements to finish
  • Toe massage, use coin movements to rub the toes and pull them gently to finish the massage
  • More sweeping ephlorage movements to complete the treatment

 You can remember your massage sequence easily by thinking:

  1. Oil 
  2. Rub all over
  3. Thumbs on top of feet
  4. Between bones
  5. 5 points on underside of foot - circle them, press them and rub with knuckles
  6. Toes - rub and pull

Foot massage is a wonderful treatment for absolutely anyone, and the absolutely perfect way to show you care, either at Valentine's, or any other time of the year! So why not look after your loved ones and help them de-stress with a relaxing foot caress.