10 surprising benefits of foot massage

There are many foot massage benefits you might not be aware of, from injury prevention to improvements in mental health

Woman giving herself a foot massage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A foot massage is something many of us see as a luxury. But whether you’ve convinced your partner to treat you to one or invested in one of the best foot massagers yourself, you’ll probably find yourself surprised at just how enjoyable the experience is. 

On top of that, there are so many foot massage benefits you probably don’t know about. From improvements in mental health to increased muscle recovery, reflexology might be one of the most underrated treatments out there. 

Natasha Bausdev, the founder of Kensington MediSpa (opens in new tab) and a trained masseuse, says that foot massages “are designed to promote healing and improve energy flow throughout the body, whilst highlighting weaknesses through any tender spots”.

Yet our feet can be an area we neglect when it comes to looking after our bodies, often left out of stretching or skincare routines. So here are 10 reasons why you should start giving your feet some extra love.

 1. It improves blood circulation 

If you’re someone who always has cold feet, this may be due to poor circulation. According to Basudev, foot massages can help with this; making your muscles more flexible whilst improving the appearance of your overall feet.  

2. It helps you destress

It’s no secret that foot massages are relaxing, but according to research they could help people suffering with anxiety and depression. In one study (opens in new tab), individuals who were undergoing heart surgery were split into two groups, with one group receiving a short foot reflexology treatment every day. These individuals reported significantly lower levels of anxiety than those who received no treatment at all.

“The art of massage and human contact is something that we have all missed over the last two years,” says Basudev. “The physical touch of an expert working their way around your muscles and pressure points to ease tension, stress and general anxiety really helps with mental health.”

man relaxing on a sofa

(Image credit: Getty)

3. It provides relief from headaches and migraines

Reflection points are an important part of reflexology, based on the principle that different parts of the feet are connected to different parts of the body. For headache or migraine sufferers, foot massage could work as an alternative therapy. In fact, a 2018 study (opens in new tab) assessed the effects of reflexology massage on migraines induced by nitrate therapy, finding that the intensity of headaches could be reduced by targeting a specific part of the upper foot.  

 4. It helps to manage blood pressure 

Bausdev says that regular foot massages are great for those who suffer from high blood pressure, of which stress can often be a contributing factor. In one 2020 study (opens in new tab) in particular, it was found that foot reflexology helped to decrease blood pressure for people with hypertension. 

5. You can get a good night’s sleep 

There are various ways you can relax before bed, but Bausdev says that a foot massage can be one of the most effective ways to ensure a deep and peaceful sleep. As reflexology has been proven to decrease stress levels, it’s the perfect way to help yourself wind down for the evening.  

Two pairs of feet poking out from under the covers

(Image credit: Getty)

7. It eases hormonal symptoms 

If you struggle with PMS, several studies have found (opens in new tab) that foot massages can help to ease pain and psychological symptoms. Bausdev also says that reflexology is particularly useful for woman going through menopause who are struggling with sleep disturbances and mood swings.  

7. It prevents and aids recovery from injuries 

people warming up before exercise

(Image credit: Getty)

Bausdev says that when massage is combined with foot and ankle strengthening exercises it can prevent future injuries and speed up the recovery of existing ones – making it ideal for athletes. Massage therapy is also recommended by many physiotherapists for injuries, although it’s best to consult a qualified professional before attempting anything yourself. 

8.  It alleviates swelling and inflammation 

Edema is the name given to swelling caused by fluid retention, which often occurs in the feet and ankles during pregnancy. A foot massage using firm strokes and pressure can help to move fluid out of the area, reducing swelling as a result. 

Image of man stretching

(Image credit: Getty Images)

9. It deals with DOMs

If you’re struggling with delayed onset muscle soreness after a difficult leg day, a foot massage might help. Whilst you might not be training your feet specifically, there are 29 muscles associated with the human foot, so chances are most of them are engaged in nearly every exercise you do.  

10. It's enjoyable

Living in such a solution-focused world, we’re often looking for tangible results in everything we do. But one of the main benefits of a foot massage is simply that it’s an incredibly enjoyable experience. “The foot has thousands of nerve endings so having it massaged is usually very pleasurable,” Bausdev says. 

With so many great benefits, why not make a foot massage part of your self-care routine?

Alice Porter
Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.