Friday, May 05, 2017

The Humble Foot Rub; Please explain?

Stimulation of the skin and connective tissues by mechanical means is likely to be one of the first medical treatments to be discovered and foot massage was certainly known to the ancients. We all do it, and even word ‘shampoo.’ means to massage and derives from the Hindi word, chāmo.

Shampoo bath houses were introduced to England in 1759 when Bengali entrepreneur Sake Dean Mahomed, opened 'Mahomed's Indian Vapour Baths' in Brighton. He was appointed ‘Shampooing Surgeon’ to both George IV and William IV.

In Biblical Times foot washing was a sign of friendship and ceremonially undertaken when guests came to visit. Foot washing (and massage) was usually done by the lowest servant and considered an act of humility.

Message has been a feature of both occidental and oriental societies for centuries but had its renaissance in the US, in the middle of the 19th century. Advancement in modern pharmaceuticals eventually saw medical massage finally subside but it was popular during the thirties for treatment for polio and again later on the 20th century with the rise of sport and alternative therapies.

The term message became associated with sexual services after the Second World War when it became obvious massage was a masquerade for sexual services when it became illegal to advertise offers of sex. Foot massage can be most sensual but no one can be sure how it works. Some experts believe it blocks pain signals to the brain which in turn activates the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulating the release of endorphins and serotonin.

The benefits of massage include pain relief and stress reduction and studies in aromatherapy message, indicate the immune system is stimulated which increases the peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) to help clean up the system.

Aromatherapy massage includes the use of sweet almond oil, lavender oil, cypress oil, sweet marjoram oil, and other oils such as neroli oil and pine oil mixed with carrier oils. Many other oils can be used including fractionated coconut oil, grape seed oil, macadamia oil, sesame oil, pecan oil, and mustard oil.

Another common practice is to use Arnica oil, made from the flowers or leaves of the Arnica montana. The use of oils, creams, or lotions help reduce friction over the skin which allows the masseur to apply smooth strokes. There are over 80 different types of massage but the more common modalities include: Acupressure (Reflexology), Shiatsu, Tui Na, Thai Massage and Barefoot Deep Tissue.

Reflexology, also called Foot zone therapy, is traditionally practiced without lotion, as the pressure points on the feet are stimulated by thumb and finger walking, as well as static pressure. Reflexology is similar to acupuncture (although the former involves pressure rather than puncture) and both are based on Chi or the energetic flow of "meridians" in the body. Like nerves these form pathways along the body and fingers and toes represent the beginning and end. With Reflexology ‘painful spots’ on reflexology points indicate illnesses of other parts of the body. As pressure is applied a healthy patient should not feel strong pain. The therapy involves finding the ‘ouch spots’ and applying gentle pressure.

Shiatsu massage originated as a form of Anma from China which was introduced to Japan about 1300 years ago. Anma is based on kneading movements and Shiatsu uses thumb pressure and works along the same energy meridians as acupressure but incorporates stretching.

Another form of Anma is Tui na which uses acupressure and is a modality of Chinese medicine to bring the body into balance. The practitioner may brush, knead, roll/press and rub the areas between each of the joints (known as the eight gates) to open the body's defensive (wei) chi and get the energy moving in both the meridians and the muscles. The practitioner can then use range of motion, traction, massage, with the stimulation of acupressure points and to treat both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, as well as many non-musculoskeletal conditions.

Thai Foot Massage is used on the lower legs and feet to “open” Sen (energy) lines and is combined with the use of a stick to stimulate the reflex points on the feet. Please note if you are unfamiliar with local custom when in Asia ensure you receive the right attention by asking for an ‘old lady massage.’ Thai massage is often used as a euphemism for a sexual service, so unless you require a "young lady massage," caution is necessary. In Asia foot message is frequently a service offered in the street by blind people. Chavutti thirummal is a traditional form of massage from India which involves the therapist suspending themselves form a rope attached to the ceiling. They then use their feet to manipulate their client’s body. A more recent adaptation is Barefoot Deep Tissue, where the barefoot therapist uses their bare feet instead of their hands to apply a broad range of pressure with ease regardless of client's size or build. Deep tissue techniques are generally used when working on a specific joint, muscle or muscle group, the practitioner can access deeper layers of the soft tissue.

This technique is similar to Myofascial Release which involves the hands.

These ancient forms of massage should not be confused with ‘tramping’ which is altogether different and involves standing on the human body (with or without shoes). Tramping is practised by some S&M enthusiasts. For some people a foot massage can be highly sexually charged thought to be due to the sensory nerve supply to the feet and genitalia lying adjacent in the brain. This means that ‘tickling’ the feet can have the same effect as ‘tickling your fancy’ (or genital masturbation).

A foot massage can last up to 90 minutes and should be completed with a pedicure (or as foreplay). A loving foot massage should be preceded by a foot spa in lukewarm water mixed with a handful of table salt (or oils of choice). Keep the feet immersed for no longer than 10 minutes then dry them thoroughly with a soft towel. Make sure to dry gently between the toes.

The foot massager should sit with a pillow or folded towel in their lap and topped with a hand towel. The hands are rubbed with massage cream to warm them (avoid greasy oils as the hands get slippery and it is difficult to apply pressure). Never apply the creams directly to the feet only the hands. Have your partner sitting in a relaxed position with knees bent, and feet in your lap. You can with work on one foot at a time or both feet. When you are working on one foot, keep the other warm by draping it with a towel.

Foot pad and arch massage
Place fingers lightly across top of toes, thumb against the sole. Use your thumb to press in a circular motion. Continue the circular motion as your hand moves across the foot in a horizontal path. Removing your fingers from the top of the toes, slide your hand slightly closer to the arch and repeat the side-to-side massage. Continue until you have massaged the area under the instep. Work the bones by pressing down with the thumb and heels of the hands, and up and in with your fingers.

Toe massage
Starting with the 4th toe rub each toe between fingers and thumb, pulling up gently, then press the flesh between the toes. Hold the heel firmly with one hand and use the other hand to push the toes forward and backward. Hold the stretch for several seconds each way, then repeat. Gently tug each toe with your index finger and thumb. Then, starting with the big toe, twist each toe from side to side; let the thumb and forefinger slide off the end. Never crack the toe knuckles.

Heel and ankle massage
Support the heel with your cupped hand and move your thumb in a circular motion around the heel pad, applying increasing pressure. Finish by pinching behind the ankle several times. Run your fingers along the top of the foot, then stroke the entire area from foot to knee. Repeat, more gently each time, until done. Starting at her heel, slide both thumbs up and out to the outside toes. Repeat, each time with a slightly narrower V, until your thumbs meet. If the person is ticklish, use more pressure. When your thumbs are about to give out, use the knuckles of your first two fingers to make small circles on the heel and ball of her foot. Hold the foot loosely with both hands like you would a baseball bat, then rotate them like you're wringing a towel.

The three techniques may be repeated as desired.

Please note the details above represent information only and should not be taken as actual instruction. Foot massage is a relaxing event but not everyone will benefit. You should first check with your doctor/foot physician and then seek out the professional services of a licensed massage practitioner.

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