5 Self-Massage Techniques for Achy Feet

by Dave Pratt

One of the best things to do between massage treatments is to treat your own feet to a treatment. This is easy to do, costs nothing but a wee bit of your time (10 minutes or more if you’d like), and can help you feel both calmer and more energized. Some people like to do this routine first thing in the morning and find that it helps get them going for a busy day. Other folks find it a calming way to end a long day on their feet. Either way, you’ll be happy to took the following steps:

     1.     Drop Everything Else

     This is perhaps the most important step. Give yourself permission to have a break from hurry and worry, the past and the future, and (shriek!) turn off your cell phone. Simply follow through on this step and you will benefit enormously from whatever your foot massage session turns out to be. Begin by just sitting and experiencing that your body is breathing for a few breaths.

2. Mobilize the Ankle

     Remove your socks, and give them a short soak in warm water. (Depending on the feet in question, soap may also be necessary.) You can add epsom salts to your tub if you’d like. Next, prop one foot on the opposite thigh and use both hands to move the whole foot in circles 5-10 times both clockwise and counterclockwise, then flex and extend the foot 5-10 times each way.

3. Soleful Kneading

     In the same position, take one fist (gently clenched) and rest the knuckles against the sole of the foot on the heel. Place your other hand on the opposite side of the foot for support. Now move the fisted hand in a rolling fashion up and down the bottom of the foot. You can experiment with using the opposite hand for counter-pressure.

4. Tippity Tap

     With both palms and fingers, vigorously tap/clap up and down the sole, being careful that your whole body is comfortable. You can do this by just letting the activity be playful and enjoyable. If you notice you are tense in your shoulders or back, feel free to shift around to a better position. You are your own therapist, so you get to decide how to adjust the treatment.

5. Fanning the Foot

     You’ll need a small amount of olive oil, massage oil or lotion for this one. Spread some oil on each palm, especially on the thumbs. Wrap your fingers over the top of your foot, so your thumb pads rest against the sole. Make fanning movements up and down the sole by spreading the thumbs apart - toward the edges of the foot. Adjust the depth for your preference.

Repeat all of these steps on the opposite foot. If it is more comfortable, you could alternate feet throughout. One other addition would be to take a tennis or racquet ball, put it on the floor and simply roll it back and forth under your foot. This feels amazingly good. Like the other 5 techniques, it can help increase blood flow, stimulates nerve endings and relaxes both the body and the mind.


Dave Pratt is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Breema bodywork instructor who has been serving Holmes County Clients and its visitors since 1997. He practices at True Nature Holistic Retreats, in Millersburg, where he offers treatments, classes and retreats with his wife, Alana Pratt, an experienced yoga and meditation instructor. Dave and Alana are the founders and co-owners of True Nature and can be reached at An edited version of this article originally appeared in Daily Record Publishing.