The washing of feet can be seen as an act
of hospitality, humility, or piety,
but also an act of love and respect.
It is a rite commonly practiced by many cultures and religions. There are references to historic religious figures reverently washing their disciples feet, and the current Pope Francis has frequently been seen washing the feet of his followers. In addition to being our point of contact with the earth, our feet are home to many acupuncture channels and their associated points. By massaging the feet, we interact with six of the twelve main acupuncture channels, and can create a smooth and healthy flow of blood and lymph throughout our bodies.
a basin large enough to fit both of your partner’s feet
lotion or oil to massage
access to warm water
How to make it happen:
1. Take the basin and fill it with warm water (test with the inside of your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot). Place it on top of a towel, in front of a comfortable seating area. Feel free to add bath salts or a few drops of essential oils to the water to create that soothing spa experience. My favorite choices are lavender or jasmine, but a tour of the essential oils in the health/body care section at your local grocery store will give you more options.
2. Place your partner’s feet in the water and allow them to soak for several minutes. While their feet are soaking, lightly massage their lower legs, working down towards their feet. Then, with one hand on each foot, use your thumbs to massage along the bone on the inner border of each foot, starting at the big toes and working back toward the heel. Next, rub your fingertips into the outer border of their feet, working back toward their heels, and softly rub around the base of the heel. Using a slow, circular motion, allow your thumb and fingertips to lightly press into the nooks of their ankle joints; then use the same circular motion with your thumb, moving back towards their toes along their inner arch. If your partner is ticklish, use more pressure – it is generally the light touch that creates a ticklish sensation.
3. Lift one foot mostly out of the water, and use the base of your palm to stroke the bottom their foot. Using your fingers, be sure to work the heel and in-between the toes. Spend as much time as you would like on this step, but do at least a few minutes per foot. You can also occasionally scoop more warm water out of the basin and run it down their ankle and over their foot. Adding a pumice stone to smooth out their calluses is another add-on option. Repeat with the other foot.
4. Lift their feet out of the basin and onto the towel below. Remove the basin. Use the second towel to dry off both of their feet.
5. Pour some lotion or oil onto your hands. (If using oil, confirm that they are not allergic to any of the ingredients. You can simply ask if they are “allergic to any nuts or oils,” as many body oils contain peanut or almond.) Rub your hands together to warm the lotion/oil, and lift one foot at a time to massage. See below for massage pointers. Repeat with the other foot.
* Keep in mind that you don’t have to have any massage training to give a good foot massage. Remember that your partner will love that you are giving them this experience; they will not expect you to give the world’s best foot massage.
Suggestions to consider:
Ask: Ask if there is an area of their foot that they would like you to focus on. If not, then try to hit the areas I have listed below.
Heel and ball of the foot: We put a lot of pressure on the bones in our heels and the balls of our feet. These areas respond well to pressure points or slow circular motions.
Arches: Our arches have muscles and tendons that can often get tight or knotted, especially in runners or people who wear heels. This area responds well to a stroking motion. Use both of your thumbs (with your fingers holding the top of the foot) and stroke from the heel up to the ball of the foot. The soft area in the middle of the foot, just behind the ball of the foot, is a key point in Chinese Medicine for grounding and relaxation. Focusing on this area can help your partner relax and get “out of their head”. Try to spend a little extra time and love here.
Toes: Don’t forget the toes! Now, not everyone likes their toes touched, so you may want to check in with your partner about this one. If they are okay with it, try lightly tugging on each of their toes individually, by starting at the base and pulling toward the tip, letting your fingertips slide along the length of each toe. Then work your thumb or forefinger between each toe, massaging the webbing. You can softly pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger (one on top, one below), to stimulate blood flow to the area. Slide your finger/thumb up their foot, in between the bones of the toes.
The whole foot: Finish with moving both of your hands along their foot, remembering to use your fingers, thumb, and palm of your hand to massage their entire foot.
Worried you won’t remember all of that? Print this post out and leave it next to the basin, or make yourself a cheat-sheet with the highlighted points. Your partner will appreciate your commitment to doing a good job! This activity has been my practice for each Valentine’s Days I have shared with my husband, and they have been the best Valentine’s Days that I have ever experienced. I hope you are able to have as much loving success with this practice as I have!
Looking for more simple and romantic ideas? Check out my suggestions for a heart-felt Valentine’s Day.