As we get ready for the Holiday Season, I hear a reoccurring theme from my clients; Sore Feet! This time of year places our feet under a lot of stress. From long hours of prep in the kitchen, extended shopping trips and long days of travel, our foundation takes a beating. To provide a little relief, I’d like to share five benefits from treating yourself to an extra-long foot massage.
1. Improved Circulation.
On these cold winter days, it’s hard to keep our feet warm. Thick socks and stiff winter footwear can compress the blood vessels and limit blood flow to the extremities (like our feet). This is where massage becomes a great tool to move blood and increase the speed at which toxins are flushed out of the body. Certain massage techniques generate the right amount of friction, allowing feet to warm and tissue to move more freely.
2. Musculoskeletal Pain Relief.
Whether you’re dealing with injury recovery or just a little maintenance following a hard workout, massage has many benefits for your muscles. These range from stimulating cell activity, increasing range of motion and muscle flexibility to decreasing tensions or restrictions, influencing posture or alignment, aiding neurological and sensory feedback and nourishing damaged cells for tissue regeneration. For all of these reasons and more, massage will lessen symptoms, and foster comfort so you can better use your body the way you want to!
3. Skin Rejuvenation.
Dry, cracked skin is common with the changing seasons, especially during cold months. The Integumentary System (our skin), is the body’s largest organ. Skin is easy to overlook, and often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Massage actually helps to hydrate tissue with external moisturizer, and (as we’ve discussed above) is a great tool for the movement of fluid throughout the body. Massage also stimulates skin sensory receptors and tissue repair, removes dead cells and enhances texture and tone of skin.
4. Systemic Balance
When scheduling a massage, most clients are eager to prioritize their musculoskeletal problems. It’s easy to gravitate toward goals of decreasing aches and pains, and forget that massage will impact more than just our tissue. Studies have demonstrated that massage directly aids almost every system within the body. This includes the cardiovascular system by increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissues (perfusion) and decreasing both blood pressure and heart rate. Massage releases tension in the Gastrointestinal System, improving digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Massage also assists the Endocrine System (which will dive into a bit deeper in the following paragraph) by balancing mood, controlling stress and decreasing anxiety.
There are many reasons why massage aids in relaxation. Touch is naturally soothing and calming, but the impacts of massage go far deeper. The Endocrine System is mainly responsible for controlling our hormones, or chemical messengers used within the body. Within just five minutes of massage contact, hormone levels begin to adapt. Massage decreases cortisol and epinephrine, hormones released when we are stressed. Massage also has the benefit of increasing dopamine and serotonin, hormones that help us feel happy and good. Because of these hormonal changes, the relaxation you feel from a massage will last even after your session has finished.
No matter your current concern, therapeutic massage is a great tool for body recovery, maintenance or some pampering. Happy Holidays!
Rebecca Shapiro is a Licensed Massage Therapist, specializing in the treatment of lower limb and foot massage. She has a background in Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology, and nearly 5 years of experience working with podiatric patients at NWFA and Correct Toes. If you are in the Portland area, massage appointments can be booked online or by calling the NWFA clinic at 503-243-2699.