What Does it Mean When Foot Massage Hurts?

Israel Galeano is laying down on a massage table and he is receiving a foot massage from Sarah Galeano. The words OUCH! appear on a green background.

It can be a shocking experience when you go to get a relaxing foot massage and instead of it feeling good, it HURT! Is it normal or ok for a foot massage to feel painful?

There are some reasons why you may feel pain during a foot massage such as having trigger points, muscle or myofascial tension, injury, or a chronic medical condition that affects the limbs like diabetes or arthritis. Foot conditions like bunions or plantar fasciitis can make foot massage painful.

If foot massages are supposed to feel good, then why did it feel painful? Learn the reasons why a foot massage experience can feel painful and what you can do to make your next foot massage a relaxing experience!

Why You Should Get Foot Massages

Foot massage??? They’re just feet! They did what feet are supposed to do, right? Some people may feel that it’s unnecessary to have their feet massaged. Have you ever taken into consideration how many hours you spend on your feet?

The amount of weight they have to carry throughout the day, bending and flexing in different positions, sustaining muscle contractions for long periods of time. In addition, the plethora of improperly designed footwear and inappropriate shoe sizes we squeeze our poor little feet into.

Our feet are like the Cinderella of our body parts. They do most of the hard work but are greatly ignored and underappreciated. If you’ve ever had a full body massage, it probably surprised you how much tension the feet can hold. Your feet endure a lot of abuse throughout the day….throughout your lifetime.

Getting regular foot massages can help not just your feet but your whole body to feel relaxed and refreshed. Foot massage eases chronic muscle tension, melts trigger points, and hydrates and increases the flexibility of the fascia. It can help to heal injuries and correct misalignment of the bones of the feet.

If you would like to learn how to do a professional foot massage on yourself or a loved one, please check out this video tutorial I made-

This is a full foot massage tutorial you can do on yourself or someone else!

Reasons Why Foot Massage Can Be PAINFUL

While it’s rare for a foot massage to feel uncomfortable, it does happen for some. There are a few reasons why a foot massage might feel painful:

  • Muscle Tension– Sometimes when we get a massage, we are informed about just how much tension our muscles are holding. This can initially feel painful but as the massage continues the feeling of pain should subside. I know that when my feet are massaged it can be almost unbearable to me if the person doesn’t use firm deep pressure because I’m sooo ticklish. Ticklishness is actually a form of pain caused by muscle tension.
  • Myofascial Restrictions -Our fascia is the soft tissue that envelopes and expands throughout our muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and organs. It pretty much holds our form together. If the fascia has become tight or restricted especially in the feet or lower legs, then this can put pressure on the muscles and nerves. This can result in our brain sending out pain signals as a way to prevent damage to these areas.
  • Trigger Points-These are areas of intense muscle contraction. Usually, if you have one trigger point, you have several trigger points. This can set off a chain reaction of heightened sensation when the trigger points receive pressure. Typically, a trigger point will release its contraction anywhere from 10-60 seconds but it’s possible that all the trigger points will need to be addressed for them to release.
  • Chronic Health Condition- Certain health conditions affect the lower extremities, such as diabetes. Other inflammatory health conditions such as arthritis affect the joints, or fibromyalgia that causes hypersensitivity in the pain receptors.
  • Foot Conditions-There are foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, that cause a tightening of the fascia of the bottom of the foot and up into the calf muscle. Bunions, a deformation of the toe joint, usually cause the bone to protrude out the side of the foot. Corns are calluses that build up on the foot and can cause pain when pressed on.
  • Injury– It’s possible for you to have an ankle, foot, or toe injury and not really be aware of it. Some people endure a toe fracture or ankle sprain and never see the doctor unless it becomes immobilizing. If a foot injury is manipulated without the intention of injury massage, this can cause excruciating pain.

How You Can Have a Better Foot Massage Experience

First off, you need to know what you are dealing with. If you suspect that you have an inflammatory health condition and/or a foot condition or injury, seek professional medical help. You don’t want to accidentally make your condition worse and the sooner you seek help the sooner you can heal or learn to manage your condition,

Second, learn to communicate with the person doing the massage. Tell them before the massage what you want and what you don’t want. During the massage, if something feels so painful that the massage becomes unpleasant, let them know right there at the moment. Tell them if you have a condition or injury that affects that area.

Know the difference between discomfort and pain. Discomfort is your body adapting to change. Pain is your brain telling your body to STOP.

When I was in Massage School, I gave a practice massage to a person with advanced fibromyalgia. During the massage, they would say the pressure was fine but later I learned from their spouse that they had actually felt a lot of pain during the massage. Even though they confirmed that they felt better overall after the massage, if they had just communicated with me, I knew with just a little adjustment they could have no pain at all and it would have been a fully pleasant experience.

With proper communication with your Massage Therapist or person giving your foot massage, proper knowledge, and adequate precautions, you can still enjoy your foot massage without experiencing pain. Remember to pay attention to your body, and let your therapist know if you’re uncomfortable at any point during the massage.

This article was written by and is the intellectual property of www.galeanomassage.com. If this article appears anywhere else on the internet it was stolen from the copyright owner.


The content in this article is for informational, entertainment, and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a trained qualified physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Galeano Massage nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, or supplements or those diagnosed with a medical illness should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.


I've been practicing Massage Therapy since 2014. I'm a health and wellness enthusiast. I'm always learning and experimenting with different techniques, recipes, and healing modalities. I believe that we need to approach health and wellness from a WHOLE-listic point of view and understand that it will constantly be changing and is never stagnant. We are all unique and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another person. As I grow, change, and experiment I will share what I have learned as it may help someone else in need.

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