Picture this scenario: You’ve had a really long day at work, commuted 50kms in all, had to be on your toes at the office and are now home to find undone dishes, an uncooked dinner and a messed up bedroom, thanks to your children! Sigh! Of course, you get right to it and get everything tidied and everyone fed and it is then that your feet start to scream – “Hey, it is 11:30 at night, how about giving us some rest!” The saddest part is that no one will share your agony as they are all comfortably in bed…along with their pain-free feet!
It is at times like these that you wish that a Fairy Godmother would appear and grant you a wish for a personalized foot massage every night of your sore-footed life! Sigh!! Well, I am no Fairy Godmother, but being another lifelong sufferer of foot and calf pain, I can sure be of help.
Why Do Your Feet Ache?
Before you say “Duh! Because I’m standing for far too long!”, let me tell you that standing for many hours is just one of the causes of foot and calf pain. Here are some other common causes:
Obesity – those extra pounds take their toll on your knees and feet.
Calcium deficiency – If your bone structure is weak, the muscles have to do double duty.
Metatarsalagia – No, that’s not a European resort, it is swelling and tenderness in the bones that lie between the heel and the toes.
Tendon or ligament injury – Any past injuries might make your feet unable to bear weight.
Too little fat – That’s right! If your feet have too little fatty tissues, your muscles and bones have no cushioning to protect them from the strain of walking and standing with all that body weight.
Illnesses – Whether you know you have it or not, diseases like Osteoporosis, Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis can wreak havoc on your feet.
Other problems – Poor circulation, improper gait, high heels, too flat shoes, uncushioned shoes can all give you a bad case of foot pain.
So you see, that shooting foot pain can be due to so many other reasons. You can’t go running either to the doctor or to the spa every time the pain strikes. Rest doesn’t seem to have long term benefits either. So, what can you do?
DIY Foot And Calf Massage
Doesn’t the word Massage itself make give you a feeling of relaxation? That’s because you know massage can and will alleviate your foot and calf pain and breathe new life into your feet for the next day. Regular massage has been proved to improve circulation, relieve muscle tension, improve tendon and ligament health and give long term freedom from foot pain. Here’s how you can do it at home on your own (admit it, no one will agree to do it for you!).
What Do You Need?
Actually, not too much. All of these things are either already available in your home or very easily available at stores. You need:
a. A small tub or bucket
b. Hot water
c. Cold water (Use ice cubes or water from the refrigerator)
d. A towel
e. Mild soap
f. An essential oil (Lavendar, Eucalyptus or Peppermint)
g. A carrier oil (Coconut, Olive or Mustard oil)
h. Espom Salt
i. A chair and a stool
Treat Your Feet To A DIY Massage
Here’s how to relieve that foot and calf soreness and pain at the end of a hectic day. All it takes is a little patience and the will to do something nice for yourself. The extra benefit: you will get an excellent night’s sleep once your feet are no longer complaining!
Step I: Do The Soak:
Take hot water in the tub/bucket and soak your feet and calves in it. You can add common salt or Epsom salts to this water. The salts rid the feet of any built up fluids and give instant refreshment. Do this for about 5 minutes; then wash your feet with a mild soap using pressure with your hands.
Step II: Alternate The Soak:
Once your feet have relished the hot water soak, it is time to shock the nerves a little. Replace the hot water with the cold (use ice cubes or refrigerated water) and soak your feet and calves in it. This contrast bath is highly therapeutic as it promotes better circulation and eases pain very effectively. During the soak, keep flexing and stretching the feet as much as you can. Do this for another 5 minutes.
Step III: The Massage:
I bet your feet will already feel a lot better after steps I and II, but don’t stop now. The best is yet to come! Remember that when it comes to massage of any kind, it is the technique that matters more than the oils and aromas.
Once out of the cold water, pat dry your feet with a clean towel and put them up on a footstool. Take some carrier oil in your palm and add a drop or two of the essential oil to it. Begin with massaging the sole of the foot with short strokes from the heel towards the toes, paying extra attention to the arch. The arch might ache a little, but that’s because it works the hardest.
Then turn your attention to the toes. Massage each toe, back and front. Make sure you bend and flex each toe backwards and in front as much as they allow you to do so. Use your fingers and ball of the hand to apply as much pressure as the foot can handle comfortably.
Now, bend your knee and turn your foot so that the ankle rests on the stool. Massage the ankle and heel with short strokes. However, if you have a history of ankle injury, use very light strokes to avoid any further injury.
The top of the foot is rarely achy, but why ignore it. Go ahead and massage it from the instep to the toes. Next, turn your focus to those aching calf muscles and massage them using a milking motion starting just behind the knee and going downwards. Use as much pressure as they can bear. After about 20 strokes, switch to a press and release massage on both calf and foot. This will encourage better circulation and relieve muscle tension.
Voila! Your DIY massage is done and you can now shift to the other foot! At the end of the massage session, apply any overnight foot cream and drift into a blissful sleep! By investing a mere 15-20 minutes before bed time, you can make a world of difference to your foot and calf health.