Hand and foot massage can leave you feeling calm and relaxed but did you know that targeting pressure points in the hands and feet can unlock a range of other benefits for your body and mind? Check out these 5 unique benefits of hand and foot massage:
Hand and Foot Massage Reduces Pain in Other Parts of the Body
In a 2019 study, people who got foot massage (reflexology) after surgery to remove their appendix experienced less pain and consumed fewer painkillers. In another study, participants who engaged in hand and foot massage once a week for six weeks experienced a reduction in lower back pain. And one exploratory study showed that hand and foot massage can even bring relief to the severe throbbing of a migraine headache.
Massaging the Feet and Hands Can Help You Sleep Better
Proper sleep is essential for all bodily systems to function properly, from regulating hormones and weight to sustaining focus and memory to healing from illness and injury. A 2021 study found that foot massage is a non-invasive and convenient complementary therapy to improve the sleep quality in adults with sleep disturbances.
Fortunately, any gentle type of massage (such as Swedish) can be highly effective at improving sleep for insomnia sufferers. But adding a reflexology focus to a massage can target specific pressure points in the hands and feet that enhance the release of serotonin and melatonin, contributing to a better night’s sleep. This targeted pressure can also deepen the effect of reducing pain that can interrupt one’s sleep.
Hand and Foot Massage Can Relieve Period Cramps
Menstrual pain (scientifically known as dysmenorrhea) is experienced by 84% of menstruating women, and up to 20% of women report that their daily lives are disrupted by it. Fortunately, OTC pain medications like ibuprofen and Tylenol are far from the only source of relief! A 2010 study found that hand and foot massage can actually be more effective than OTC painkillers in relieving the symptoms of menstrual cramps.
The reason behind this lies in the pressure points of the feet, as specific areas in the feet correspond to the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. A professional massage therapist who applies reflexology techniques can do so in a way that activates signals to these organs to ease the inflammation that causes cramps.
Massage of the Hands and Feet Can Ease Depression and Anxiety
The power of human touch cannot be underestimated when it comes to fighting depression. Research shows that a one-hour massage lowers the “stress hormone” cortisol while also triggering release of wellbeing-centric hormones serotonin and oxytocin. This has been shown to reduce depression and enhance overall feelings of wellbeing.
Getting specifically to the hands and feet, a 2020 meta-analysis of twenty-six randomized controlled trials involving 2,366 participants found that foot massage using reflexology was effective in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or sleep disturbance. Additionally, a clinical trial published in 2017 showed a measurable decrease in anxiety for patients about to enter surgery.
A massage therapist versed in reflexology techniques will be able to target pressure points in the hands and feet to address specific mood issues like depression, anxiety, and stress. And even a massage not focused on hand or foot reflexology (such as a standard Swedish massage) can have a profound effect on mood, so there’s no reason not to book one today!
Foot and Hand Massage Can Improve the Symptoms of Many Chronic Conditions
A vast 2017 review of existing research found that massage therapy can have beneficial effects on a wide range of conditions including autism, hypertension, HIV, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and autoimmune conditions like lupus and multiple sclerosis.
The body’s major organs like the heart, intestine, kidney, thyroid, gallbladder, and appendix all have nerve endings in the hands and feet. These organs can be stimulated through hand and foot reflexology, boosting circulation and aiding in illness and injury recovery, while also keeping muscle and fascia supple. This is especially valuable for those with underlying health issues that degrade circulation or cause nerve damage—such as arthritis or diabetes. Of course, always consult your physician if you have any serious underlying condition to make sure that massage is safe for you.