The best way to massage a person's legs for better circulation is to begin with a comprehensive plan in mind and then to work that plan to its completion. Circulation difficulties are common in the leg, since blood and nutrients have to travel such a distance from the pumping heart to reach the entire leg. In addition, the returning deoxygenated blood must rise against the pull of gravity to return to the filtering organs and heart once again. Massage is an excellent method for enhancing circulation. The therapist should work both legs.
Reasons for Leg Massage
To massage properly, first determine why the circulation needs increased. If the patient is suffering from a circulatory or cardiac condition, be sure to discuss the treatment you plan with his physician so you know whether his circulatory system can withstand the pressure of massage and greater blood flow.
If the patient's circulatory system is fine, ask why she desires increased circulation in the legs. To help warm chronically cold feet, to address occasional swelling or to relieve pain from physical activity are all common reasons. Others may be interested in better athletic performance.
Strokes and Direction
You will need to use a combination of pressure and friction to cause the circulatory vessels to increase in diameter and permit additional blood flow. Most massage therapists begin with long strokes to warm the tissue throughout the target area and then continue with deeper pressure and shorter, more stimulating techniques.
Begin at the top of the thigh, then move down approximately 12 inches and cover both this new area and the area initially worked. By continuing to add additional areas, circulatory pathways are opened up, bringing new circulation down into the leg and simultaneously encouraging flow in the vessels returning to the heart from the leg. Gradually move down to the ankle and the foot.
Finishing the Massage
Once the tissue of the entire leg has been warmed up, use long strokes of moderate pressure, alternating with shorter, more intense strokes. Use small friction strokes of moderate intensity to bring the increased flow down to the foot.
Finish with long, soothing, lighter strokes to sedate the nerve endings in the area and avoid the sensation of itching or tingling. Encourage your patient to apply cold packs at home if the massage results in any pain or soreness and also to drink plenty of water to flush out toxins.