Can a foot massage make a podiatric issue worse?

Updated on 25 March 2023

Can a foot massage make a podiatric issue worse?

A foot massage may appear to be harmless at first look. This form of treatment, however, is not appropriate for everyone. A massage can be risky if the person getting it has certain disorders, chronic pain, or specific podiatric conditions, despite its image of well-being and relaxation. Here we explain why a foot massage can aggravate an already existing problem.

Foot massage: several foot pains to treat

The feet, which are always in use, seldom stop functioning and bear the whole weight of the body. Many people suffer from foot pain, which can range from minor to severe and chronic. Foot massage can help to relax any stress that has built up in the foot, which can cause a variety of problems (heavy, tired feet, slight throbbing, etc.).

If the individual has a major injury or persistent illness, such as a fracture, diabetic foot, or subluxation, it is advisable to seek medical advice first. Based on the patient’s health and any pathologies, he or she will be able to establish a clear diagnosis and decide whether or not foot massage is appropriate.

Risks associated with foot massages

Although a massage may be very soothing and enjoyable, it can also have negative side effects, ranging from minor discomfort in the case of a moderate massage to more serious implications in the case of a deep tissue massage (aggravation of an injury or pathology, appearance of new pain, feeling of discomfort, stress, muscle crushing, etc.).

It is possible to have headaches, emotional outbursts, aches and pains, exhaustion, or even a change in the digestive system after receiving a foot massage (nausea, gas, etc.). These side effects should, in most cases, fade away shortly. If this is not the case after one or two days, get medical assistance right away.

In other circumstances, foot massage might go beyond these minor side effects and pose genuine dangers. Some instances are as follows:

  • Massage with joint mobilizations can cause neurovascular damage.
  • A foot massage can cause a change in insulin production through repeated and applied movements. It is therefore not recommended for diabetics. 
  • In the case of an athlete’s foot, wart or nail fungus, massage can lead to contamination of other parts of the foot, but also of the hands of the massage therapist. 
  • In general, foot massage should be avoided by people with heart problems, respiratory problems, inflammation or infection of the feet. If you are pregnant, it is best to seek the advice of a physician beforehand. 

Before starting the therapy, the massage therapist must have as much information as possible about the person and his or her health to prevent taking needless risks.

Tips for a relaxing foot massage

What is the best way to offer a nice foot massage? The following are the fundamentals to be aware of:

  1. The first step is to clean the feet and then dry them well. The application of a little oil in the palm of your hand will give a more fluid massage; 
  2. Start with the ankles by gently rotating the foot in one direction, then the other, and continue by alternating a few flexion/extension movements (up and down);
  3. Place your hands on either side of the soles of the feet, moving back and forth from toe to heel. Be sure to apply the right amount of pressure (not too much, not too little);
  4. Move to the toes, using gentle flexing and extending movements. Then move your fingers down the bones of the top of the foot (tarsus), sliding and pressing gently; 
  5. Finally, make a few circular movements around the ankle bone before sliding back to the toes.

It is critical to listen to your body and be gentle whether self-massaging or massaging another person.

If you are thinking of getting a foot massage, see a specialist

Foot massage, as you can see, is not a therapy to be taken lightly. If you are in good health, you may pamper yourself by choosing a massage therapist wisely. If you have a podiatric problem, on the other hand, do not take any chances and see a specialist at one of the FootNetwork clinics. Not only will they be able to address your ailment, but they will also be able to advise you on whether or not a foot massage is necessary.

Find a clinic
A member