Eastern Medicine and Western Medicine often clash on the surface. But when it comes to matters of the heart, there may be at least one indulgence that improves health while offering relaxation too. With the stresses going on around most people on a day-to-day basis, blood pressure concerns are at an all-time high across vast segments of the population. We want to discuss how the humble foot massage can have a drastic positive impact on blood pressure.
Let’s start with an odd question that may help to illustrate an important point.
Have you ever gotten a small pebble stuck inside your shoe? Do you remember how sharp the pain was when you noticed it? That’s because the bottom of the foot has an incredibly large number of nerve endings. That is simultaneously why feet can ache after standing all day, and why additional pressure on certain parts of the foot can have a dramatic effect on soothing those aches. Basically, the foot is sensitive to pressure and yet, receives manual therapy and its benefits easily.
Anyone who has ever had a legitimate foot massage for therapeutic purposes doesn’t need to be told that relaxation is a side effect. Furthermore, anyone with stress and heightened blood pressure knows that clinical studies https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0964339799800032?via%3Dihub and common sense both tell us that an increase in relaxation is a very good combatant to overall stress levels and absolutely (at least temporarily), lowers blood pressure.
But there are some important things to understand about these studies:
that have been performed and the presumed courses of enhanced treatment of stress through practices like reflexology and other massage techniques. We will highlight some of them below.
- Reflexology is just one method that can help to alleviate blood pressure symptoms (like elevated blood pressure numbers, change in physical comfort caused by stress or elevated blood pressure, etc.)
- You can do this type of foot massage by yourself or have it performed on you, with excellent results either way
- Effects can feel immediate, and can be long-lasting
- When combined with other techniques, including aromatherapy, enhanced results can be attained
- This is not a complete treatment for elevated blood pressure, rather a way to improve overall symptom manifestation and work in harmony with other treatments
- While efficacy can be achieved with this method, it doesn’t mean that you may not ALSO need “western medicine”, or pharmaceutical treatments in some cases. This is not intended to be given as medical advice and you should always seek the advice of your qualified medical practitioner
- There are several other proven methods to improving your blood pressure symptoms in short and long-term scenarios. One other way might be deep breathing therapy. Yet another could be reducing sodium, caffeine and alcohol intake
- While every person is different, and one of the most important relationships between Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure readings is the difference in the extreme spread between them, this type of therapy can improve both numbers independently - seen by most medical practitioners as a positive thing
- Certain areas on the foot are believed to correspond to different parts of the body. This is usually linked in some way to the architecture of the skeletal and muscular system. (See below for a quick reference to the body part correlations.)
The reference to Reflexology is an important one, mostly because it is the “hardest science” we have with relation to the impact of pressure on body parts, on reduction in overall stress levels. It is still not a fully understood practice - even some 4000 years after historians believe it emerged on the scene.
For the purpose of this article, it’s important to understand that reflexology and those who practice it, rely in putting pressure on key points on the body, in this case the foot, to effect change in other parts of the body.
Here are some common correlations between where on the foot to touch, and where you might find ancillary relief. Not all reflexology has immediate returns, though many techniques will.
- The heel and the ankles on both sides can be linked to the reproductive system.
- The ball of the foot can be linked to the chest and upper abdomen.
- The arch of the foot can be linked to the internal organs that have to do with digestion and the gut.
- Along the toe-line, on the bottom of the foot, starting just above the ball of the foot and ending just below the pinky toe can be linked to the upper back, shoulders and lower neck.
Interestingly, while you may not feel the immediate effects in those corresponding areas, you often CAN feel the effects immediately. Regardless, it’s important to note that when you are in a focused, yet relaxed state, your body’s natural inclination is to lower it’s heart rate and relax the system that moves blood through your body. It can also heighten the amount of blood flow in areas where pressure is being used, which can aid in therapeutic benefit at that location. There is absolutely a harmonizing effect as a result of treatments like these when used properly and for acute symptoms.
What’s the takeaway? Science is proving more each day, that stress, inflammation and other deteriorating factors are leading to quality of life issues for many people. Furthermore, the heightened risk for damage to organs, like heart disease, and chronic fatigue can cause lasting problems that can eventually lead to death or other severe consequences.
So in a few sentences:
Stress is not good. Foot massage can immediately reduce stress. When stress is addressed in real time, it can lead to other ancillary benefits, such as improved sleep, improved quality of life and better functionality. When used with a bevy of other options, foot massage can form the core of a smart self-care routine that can put you in a better state of mind, and improve the way you feel with very little downside. Oh yeah, and foot massage feels amazing, too.