How to Use Pressure Points for a Foot Massage

Different areas of the feet can be massaged with varying amounts of pressure to stimulate or relax the nervous system, induce deep relaxation or even reduce pain in other parts of the body. Here's how to tap into each pressure point for a foot massage.

Acupressure massage techniques involve applying pressure to certain areas of the body in order to release pain and induce relaxation.  There are a number of pressure points located on the soles and tops of the feet, and you can use a number of different massage techniques to make the session a truly relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Both reflexology and acupressure target these pressure points to stimulate a response; different areas of the feet can be massaged with varying amounts of pressure to stimulate or relax the nervous system, induce deep relaxation or even reduce pain in other parts of the body.

Key Benefits of a Foot Massage

A foot massage that uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve the energy flow throughout the body can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.  Using different pressure points in a foot massage can help to:

  • Treat vision problems
  • Correct hormonal imbalances
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Induce a state of deep relaxation
  • Reduce low back pain
  • Improve posture
  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Relieve migraines
  • Reducing anxiety


Anyone who learns the basic massage techniques and understands how to find key pressure points in the feet can do the foot massage at home. Using varying amounts of pressure and treating only some areas in each session can help to treat a number of health problems and improve overall health and mental well-being.

Where to Find Key Pressure Points in Your Feet

A reflexology chart is a valuable resource for anyone interested in giving a foot massage.  This chart is a visual map of the different pressure points located on the soles of the feet and how they are linked to various parts of the body.  For example, the small area at the top of the thumb is directly connected to the brain, while the area right under the balls of the feet is linked to the stomach and spleen.  If you are experiencing health problems in these areas, you may benefit from a foot massage that focuses on these key ‘reflex zones.’

Preparing for a Foot Massage

Giving a foot massage to another person or to yourself begins with sitting in a comfortable room and putting the feet up so that they are pointing upwards.  Soft music and a slightly warm room can help improve the massage experience.  The feet can be soaked in a foot bath of Epsom salts to reduce stress and pain before the massage and improve flexibility in the joints and base of the feet.  The feet must be clean and completely dry before the massage begins.  Massage oils made with lavender, chamomile and other relaxation-inducing herbs can be used to deepen the massage experience.

Ways to Use Pressure Points for a Foot Massage

Pressure points can be used to treat certain symptoms of illness or simply to reduce stress.  The acupoints used for treating an illness or health problem may be different than those used to induce relaxation.  An experienced reflexologist or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner will be able to identify the key areas that can provide relief. However, the following basic methods and techniques can be used for a basic stress relief foot massage:

1. Apply pressure to the area at the top of the ankles to reduce stress in the knees and calf muscles.
2. Apply pressure to the tops of the toes to clear up the sinuses and improve vision.
3. Apply pressure to the soles of the feet to improve breathing and open up the chest area.  This large area right beneath the toes is also connected to the liver which can help to flush out toxins from the body.
4. Apply pressure to the arch of the foot to stimulate the stomach, kidney and spleen.  This area is connected to the digestive system and may help alleviate indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome or other types of discomfort after eating.
5. Apply pressure to the inner soles of the feet near the arch.  This area (see image) is connected to the adrenal glands and pancreas which help control blood sugar.  Improving energy flow in this area may reduce excessive fatigue and other side effects of blood sugar imbalances.
6.  Apply pressure to the area under the second toe.  This area is responsible for flushing out the lypmphatic system; gently massaging this pressure point may help the body eliminate toxin buildup caused by stress and improve overall well-being.

Techniques Used to Apply Pressure to the Feet

After determining where the key pressure points are, the massage practitioner will need to use a number of techniques to apply varying amounts of pressure.  These may include kneading, finger walking, pivoting and stroking certain areas slowly and methodically to achieve the desired results.

Stroking involves applying very little pressure to the area in order to stimulate a response.  Stroking can be performed using the fingertips and pressure can be applied in a downward motion in sets of 5-10 strokes.  This is typically the first technique used in a reflexology session.

Pivoting is the technique of holding an area of the foot in one hand and massaging the area with medium to high pressure using the other hand.  This technique is often used to pull back the toes and target the balls and soles of the feet.

Finger walking is a technique that involves massaging a small area using a series of small ‘presses’ up and down the area using the thumb or forefinger.  This technique can help to stimulate the nerves and pressure points more directly and often results in an immediate reaction.

Kneading is the technique of using the thumb and knuckles to press and massage a large area back on forth in order to stimulate the pressure points.  This technique is commonly used on the ball of the feet and the large fleshy area near the arch. It can be particularly effective for a quick and simple massage that provides instant stress relief.

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