Pressure therapy has been practiced for over 4,000 years and was first used by the Ancient Egyptians as a healing method on the body. The same method began to be used in India and China until Marco Polo was responsible for bringing it to Europe after traveling to China. In the 1890s, German Physician Dr. Alfons Cornelius discovered that foot massage mitigates pain and prompts a healing process.
The practice evolved as Dr. William Fitzgerald began researching Zone Therapy in the 20th century in the U.S. with the use of devices that anesthetized specific areas of the body during minor surgeries. He then worked with Dr. Joe Shelby Riley to create the first accurate reflex chart for the hands and feet and began using a manual technique of applying pressure without the use of tools or equipment. Today, foot massage continues to be used as a natural healing method that offers many tyes of health benefits.
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1. Helps Control Blood Pressure
Foot massages are proven to control blood sugar when all seven endocrine glands are massaged, which is responsible for controlling the metabolic system. It can also alleviate stress, which can prevent blood pressure levels from spiking. Studies show that individuals who are diagnosed with high blood pressure and get a 10-minute foot massage three times each week have lower blood pressure while also experiencing less stress and anxiety.
2. Improves Nerve Sensitivity
Foot massages can be effective in improving nerve sensitivity by encouraging relaxation of superficial and deep muscle by manipulating the fibers and tissues. It also reduces nerve sensitivity by increasing the blood flow due to friction that is created between the fingers and skin. Eventually, the friction can begin to heal damaged nerve fibers and will encourage more sensation. Blood and lymph flow can also improve with deep massaging of the feet, which will contribute to increased sensation throughout the body and will begin to heal the nerves.
Effleurage, kneading, and mobilizations are common techniques used specifically for alleviating nerve sensitivity with soft pressure that boosts circulation and also reduces the experience of pins and needles. Kneading improves circulation to reduce nerve compression and dull aches by pulling the muscles. It begins to alleviate compression or damage of the nervous tissue throughout the body.
3. Improve Blood Circulation
Improved blood circulation is one of the main benefits of getting regular foot massages, especially for those who have sedentary lifestyles. The massage can improve blood flow in the lower extremities and can also flush lactic acid from the muscles, which can prompt better circulation throughout the body.
4. Helps Promote Sleep
You can improve your quality of sleep and circadian rhythm by relaxing the nerves and alleviating stress. With over 15,000 nerves in the feet, the massage can have a calming and soothing effect that makes it easy to feel drowsy and begin to relax at night. Many people often have insomnia and other types of sleep disorders due to an overactive nervous system, which can slow down involuntarily due to the massage on the feet as it begins to relax.
5. Treatment for Migraines and Headaches
Although the feet are the farthest body part from the head, they can have a significant influence on headaches and migraines that develop when they’re massaged. Massaging the feet for at least 60 seconds can smooth the flow of Qi, especially when targeting the point inside the big toe to reduce discomfort with temple-centered headaches. Similarly, the left foot controls the left side of the headache. For headaches in the center, front, or back of the head, massage the outside base of each toe, which is associated with the brain.
Massages are also proven to alleviate spasms and decrease tension that is often associated with headaches and migraines for increased relief that is immediate and can also prevent the pain or discomfort from returning
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