Give a Leg Massage

Giving someone a leg massage can be a way to help relieve leg pain caused by things like overexertion. Help the person find a comfortable position and then work your way from the feet upward. If leg pain is persistent, it may be caused by an underlying health condition. If someone's leg pain does not pass on its own, they should see a doctor.


Establishing the Basics

  1. Find a comfortable position. To start, help the person you're massaging find a comfortable position. For leg massages, it's usually easy to lie down somewhere like a couch. The person can have their legs stretched forward. If you're only massaging one leg, you may want to have the person lie on their side with the leg you're massaging extending upward. You can also have the person lie with their legs stretched out and elevated slightly. A pillow can be used to elevate the person's legs.[1]
  2. Choose your oils (optional). If you want, it's okay to use oil for a leg massage. This can make it easier to run your hands and fingers over someone's legs and oils can also provide a soothing effect. For leg massages, go for oils like olive oil, avocado oil, or almond oil. Most of these oils can be purchased at a supermarket.[2]
    • Make sure the person you're massaging does not have an existing allergy to the oil you use.
  3. Figure out how to apply pressure. You should use a lighter pressure over bony areas like the shins and knees. Use more pressure for big muscles, such as the thighs.[3]
    • The body parts you use to perform a massage affect the pressure. The elbows generally provide the strongest pressure. The palms and fingers will generally apply less pressure.[2]
  4. Communicate with the person. Ask the person if there's a particular area where they want extra pressure or attention. For example, if someone's thighs are bothering them, they may want you to focus on massaging their thighs. You may want to linger on certain areas and give them more attention.

Massaging Both Legs

  1. Start at the foot. Starting at the foot helps promote blood circulation, which can help ease pain and tension in the legs. Sandwich the person's foot between your palms. Then, rub the foot firmly for a few minutes. When you're done rubbing the foot between your hands, give the foot a few gentle strokes moving from the toes to ankles.[3]
    • It does not matter which leg you start with.
  2. Use long, gentle strokes along the outside of the thighs and calves. Move upward from the foot towards the thighs and calves. For these areas, use a loose fist to make long, gentle strokes. Move from the foot upward when you make your strokes. This pushes blood towards the heart, increasing blood circulation.[1]
  3. Raise and rub one leg. Raise one of the person's legs. Use one hand to support the ankle. Place your hand on the person's ankle and push upward towards their knee. Apply pressure between your palms for the best effect. Do six strokes.[3]
    • It does not matter which leg you massage first.
  4. Repeat with the other leg. After raising one leg, raise the other. Repeat the same process. Hold the leg up by the ankle with one hand and massage the lower leg with the other. Do six strokes on this leg as well.[3]
  5. Finish by massaging the thigh. Finish with a few fast rubs to the thigh, using your palms. Then, do some more firm strokes using the heel of your hand. Repeat with the other leg.[3]
    • You can massage either the inner or outer thigh or both.

Taking Safety Precautions

  1. Be very gentle with swollen legs. If legs are swollen due to medical reasons, be very gentle. Make sure to check with the person to make sure they're comfortable. Use the lightest pressure possible when massaging swollen legs.[3]
  2. Avoid massaging the inner thighs on a pregnant woman. If you're massaging a pregnant woman's legs, stay away from massaging the inner thighs. Blood clots are more common in this area during pregnancy and massaging the area can dislodge clots. This can be a very serious, even fatal, problem.[1]
  3. See a doctor for chronic leg pain. Leg pain can indicate health problems such as a leg injury or chronic conditions like arthritis.[2] While massages can temporarily relieve, frequent leg pain should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Sources and Citations

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