By Jenni Miller
“How Do You Keep Your Feet So Soft?”
Ashiatsu students and clients ask me this often, so I’ve decided to share my tricks!
Ashiatsu (or barefoot massage) is an incredible modality with a wide range of benefits for both clients and massage practitioners (see my blog article for more on the benefits here). While I encourage students to make sure that having rough feet doesn’t stop them from continuing their education and growing their skill set by learning Ashiatsu, I do also need to emphasize that foot care is a make or break component for any Ashiatsu massage practice. There is simply nothing like sand paper feet to ruin the experience for your clients.
But don’t despair! There are some great new strategies for you to implement right away that I’m happy to share with you! Simply put, the two most important keys for effective foot care is persistence and diversity (by which I mean utilizing multiple methods) in your foot care regimen.
It’s important to recognize that pretty much any goal worth having takes some time to achieve: losing weight, getting stronger, building a business are all examples. Getting your feet nice and soft is admittedly a much smaller goal than these particular examples, but nonetheless dedication and the persistence to create new habits is going to be the key. It took me a few months to get my feet to become as soft as they are. One plus is that using your feet as tools as a massage therapist means that you will be lotioning them up regularly anyway, which definitely helps! However, towards to beginning of your Ashiatsu practice you are going to have to put in a little more effort to get your feet ready for this new realm you’re entering into.
Step 1: Treat yourself to a pedicure (or multiple!) and get some professional advice specifically for your feet. I’ve definitely compiled a list of ideas below that have worked for me and my students in the past, but professionally tailored advice specifically for your feet can save you time experimenting and help you on your way!
Step 2: Once you find the strategies that particularly work for your feet: Create a daily habit. Make a routine to stick to in the shower every morning, or have a routine right before you go to bed.
Most importantly: Don’t let impatience get the best of you. Your feet can definitely improve. Give them time to.
Okay, let’s talk methods here. They all fall under two basic categories of exfoliation and moisturizing. Both are going to be necessary to get your feet soft.
There are a wide range of exfoliants, including mechanical/physical exfoliant metal tools that look an awful lot like cheese graters. (I don’t like them… they kinda freak me out!) I prefer finer grain and less aggressive tactics, like pumice stones or wands with a very fine and sand-paper-like quality to them. You’ll want to use these daily, and not so aggressively that you give yourself blisters or make your skin raw. This is counterproductive!
Also, you may want to consider a chemical exfoliant (and don’t freak out by the word “chemical” here because water, alcohol, and salt are chemicals!). There are lots of fruit acid peels and masks out there to choose from, many with all natural ingredients. These can be a nice, gentle way to switch up your exfoliation routine and perhaps get better benefits.
One excellent DIY chemical exfoliant you can make at home is a Listerine, epsom salt, and water mixture. This remedy is both inexpensive and effective, and I’ve seen the results firsthand.
To make this mixture you’ll want to combine…
- 1 cup Listerine brand mouthwash
- 1 cup Epsom salts
- 3 cups water (or vinegar if you prefer a more aggressive tactic, this also has some mild antifungal properties)
Put all these ingredients in a small bucket or bowl that is big enough to put your feet in. The mixture should cover any areas of your feet that you’d like exfoliated. Keep your feet in for up to 45 minutes. (Please note that putting your feet in a colored Listerine may temporarily discolor your feet if you leave them in for too long.)
Moisturizing your feet may seem like the straightforward part, but just slathering your feet in lotion every once in awhile doesn’t usually cut it. First big rule is to avoid using lotions or products that contain petroleum products. Lots of evidence suggests that not only are these products ultimately bad for your skin, but won’t effectively moisturize it either.
Here are some examples of ingredients to avoid:
- Paraffin wax
- Mineral oil
- Anything with PEG (polyethylene glycol)
- Anything ending in ‘eth’ indicates that it required ethylene oxide (a petrochemical) to produce e.g. myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth
- Anything with DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine)
Find a natural lotion that you enjoy and apply it regularly. However, when you apply lotion directly to your feet, it’s easy to immediately lose it all walking around on your floors, making your hardwood floors slick or your carpet gross. A simple and fabulous way to enhance your moisturizing step is to purchase gel socks to help give your feet a chance to sit in and soak up all the healthy oils from your natural lotion. These are easy to purchase on Amazon.com, or at Bed Bath and Beyond or a similar establishment. Use them every night or every other night, and your feet can soak up the lotion without making a mess.
There are lots of ailments and special situations that will also need to be taken care of if you’re wanting to learn Ashiatsu and massage others with your feet.
- Athlete’s Foot and other fungi will need to be completely gone. (Look into antifungals.)
- Regular and plantar warts will need to be removed or burnt off. (Talk to your doctor/dermatologist, or purchase a DIY kit from the drugstore.)
- Anything else contagious. (Talk to your doctor.)
If you have concerns about these or other issues, please reach out to the Prana Endura support staff and we will make sure to provide advice and suggestions.
Hope to see you in class soon!