The feet are the hands that touch the earth.

Debbie Rosas, The Nia Technique

The twenty-six bones in the foot are always being stepped on. Getting on one’s nerves takes on a whole new meaning when considering that each foot contains an estimated 200,000 nerve endings. With health enthusiasts recommending 10,000 steps per day, which translates to approximately five miles, is it any wonder that the often-abused soles deserve a little self-care? 

What Research Tells Us

Nurses in a 2008 study logged an average of three miles during a 10-hour daytime shift. A previous study demonstrated similar results: 146 nurse participants walked an average of 4.5 miles during a 12-hour shift. 

Standing and walking over a long nursing shift can result in tired, achy feet. However, by spending as little as five minutes per foot, oncology nurses stand to gain the same benefits noted in the following two separate studies. 

Eighty-seven patients with cancer experienced increased relaxation and decreased perception of pain and nausea after a 10-minute, nurse-performed foot massage intervention.  

In a small study involving 19 nurses caring for patients in a long-term care facility, researchers noted a significant reduction in blood pressure among nurses who received a 10-minute foot massage when compared with the control group who rested in a quiet environment without the addition of a foot massage.

Regular foot massage has been associated with improved circulation, decreased muscle tension, and overall relaxation.

How to Practice

  1. Sit in a comfortable position resting your bare foot on your knee or a stool.
  2. Lubricate your foot with your favorite scented lotion or oil (unscented works too).
  3. Gently massage the heal of the foot using circular movements with palm of the hand.
  4. Use stroking movements over the top of the foot.
  5. Massage in between the toes, and use your fingers to gently pull the toes back and forth or apart.
  6. Curl and uncurl your toes.
  7. Point and flex your entire foot.
  8. Circle your ankles in a clockwise and then counter-clockwise direction.
  9. Repeat on the other foot.