You can stand because of your feet, they carry you throughout your lifetime. So caring for your feet is very important, but often neglected. In Indian custom, and as per Ayurveda tradition and medicine, the feet have been given utmost significance. Ayurvedic foot care goes beyond cosmetic purposes and feels more like a therapy.
According to Vagbhata, the author of the classical Ayurvedic text Ashtanga Hridayam, the human body is an upside down tree wherein the roots are located at the top and the branches are pointing downwards.1 The feet are the branches that keep us connected to nature.
The feet are an important Karmendriya, or organ of action, and their relation to eye health is described in detail in the Ashtanga Hridayam2, a principal source of Ayurvedic knowledge. This shows it is essential to take good care of your feet. Feet are connected not just to our eyes but have benefits for your entire nervous system and body.
Here are some of the basic principles you need to follow while taking care of your feet the Ayurvedic way. There are many therapies and recipes in Ayurvedic foot care but Padabhyanga (Ayurvedic foot massage) is the mother of all foot care regimens.
Ayurveda always emphasizes that prevention is better than cure. You can experience Padabhyanga (Ayurvedic foot massage) in spite of being healthy. It rejuvenates and enhances your health, and a foot massage may help keep diseases at bay.
Ayurvedic foot massage is done with medicated oils. It is a concept beyond massage. It is a holistic approach to psychosomatic healing.
Massaging your feet helps detoxify your body, balance emotions, and improve blood and lymph circulation. A foot massage before bed helps to create deeper sleep, and is also a quick way to recover from tiredness after travelling.
Ayurvedic master Charaka mentioned that maintaining personal hygiene including regular foot massage, relieves roughness, stiffness, dryness of the feet, tiredness, and foot fatigue.
Ayurvedic foot massage relieves numbness and tingling of the foot. Padabhyanga provides softness, attractiveness to the feet, strengthens them, and helps in improving and maintaining good eyesight. It prevents sciatica pain, cracks and fissures in the feet and heels, improves blood circulation, and prevents leg cramps.3
Ayurvedic master Sushruta, says that foot massage brings sleep, is pleasing and wholesome for the eyes, removes fatigue and numbness, and softens the soles of the feet.4
Foot massage can be done at any time of the day and on a daily basis too.
It is most effective when done late in the evening or before bedtime.
Foot massage or Padabhyanga also form part of Sarva-Abhyanga (full body oil massage).
Foot massage should not be done when you have a fever, cold, toxin-induced coma, lymphatic or blood infections, thrombosis, indigestion, abnormal skin conditions, circulatory disorders of the lower limbs, and during acute trauma to the foot.
According to reflexology, it is said that foot massages release any blocks that hold back energy, which should otherwise be flowing freely throughout the body.
Herbal Foot Bath
You can do an herbal foot bath every evening with warm salt water. Boil close to a liter of water (4 cups), add a handful of salt, and let it sit for a few minutes so that the water is comfortable enough to soak your feet. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. Since ancient times, salt has been used in many cultures due to its natural cleansing and purification ability.
If you wish to make your foot bath even more effective and relaxing, add up a few drops of lavender oil, tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil to your salt bath.
A weekly herbal foot bath can also be made with pouches of lavender, sage or rosemary. Put any one of these in a bucket or plastic tub and add boiling water. Let it sit for twenty minutes, and wait until the water is luke warm and comfortable enough to soak your feet in. Now gently rub (do not scrub) the herbs on your feet while soaking, for about twenty minutes. Dry your feet thoroughly with a soft towel. This is one of the easiest Ayurvedic foot care remedies.
Ayurvedic master Sushruta in his treatise mentions that washing the feet removes dirt and diseases of the feet and fatigue. It clarifies vision, wards off negative pranic energies, and provides pleasure.
Keep Feet Clean And Dry
Wash between your toes, and dry your feet just as carefully as you wash them. Athlete’s foot and other fungi can emerge from perspiration or dampness between the toes. If you are prone to skin irritation or foot odor, blow dry your feet after a shower, and before putting on socks and shoes.
Allow Your Feet To Breathe
Wearing synthetic socks does not allow your feet to breathe properly and contributes to foot odor. Opt for organic, cotton socks when possible. Or spend a portion of your day barefoot.
Keep Your Feet Comfortable
Wear comfortable footwear. If your shoes are too tight, or if you wear heels that are uncomfortable, it can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on your feet.
Ayurvedic master Sushruta again says that regular footcare alleviates diseases of the feet, provides pleasure, enhances comfortable walking, and the ojas.5