Offering foot scrubs to your clients during regular massage work takes the foot massage portion of their massage up a notch and can put a little extra money into your business.
Our feet are sensitive and they work hard for us—so even if your clients don’t work on their feet all day, as a massage therapist, you know that a foot massage releases a lot of tension and feels amazing for your clients—and again, foot scrubs are a level above foot massage.
What are Foot Scrubs?
“A foot scrub is used to soften the feet, allowing a moisturizer to penetrate deeper,” said Brooke Riley, a licensed massage therapist who is an operations specialist for Massage Heights, a family-owned therapeutic massage and facial services franchise company based in San Antonio, Texas. “A foot scrub can be added to any massage to enhance the experience.”
It is essentially a foot massage in which the massage therapist uses a sugar or pumice scrub to soften and exfoliate the skin of the feet, followed by the use of hot towels or a soak in a foot tub of hot water and finished with the application of a moisturizer.
Foot scrubs, just like foot massage, are not a form of reflexology, Riley noted.
Reflexology, while it offers some of the same benefits as foot massage, namely, releasing tension in the feet, improving circulation, and promoting relaxation and stress relief, is a complementary health therapy that uses specific, manual techniques that differ from massage techniques.
Reflexologists apply pressure to specific points on the feet (as well as other parts of the body, such as the hands and legs) that correspond to various areas of the body, for instance, the center of the ball of the foot corresponds to the lungs, and a particular point within that center corresponds to the heart.
The theory of reflexology is that by applying pressure to specific areas, say on the feet, the body area that relates to that part of the foot will benefit.
If you are a massage therapist with reflexology training, you, of course, can offer your clients a reflexology treatment during the massage portion of the foot scrub, Riley said.
You can do the foot scrub any time during a massage session, she said, but usually it is offered when the massage therapist gets to the foot massage portion of the massage session. “The therapist can add on a foot scrub to any service to increase their income,” Riley said.
“This add-on takes less than five minutes to do, leaving time to get a full body massage in.”
There are no formal techniques on how to do one, she said. “Most spas have set processes in place and they will train when a therapist is hired to ensure the therapist is executing proper protocols,” she said.
A foot scrub can be either “wet” or “dry.” In a dry service, the massage therapist will rub the sugar or pumice scrub into the feet of their client while doing a foot massage right on the massage table. Then hot towels are wrapped around the client’s feet, which feels good for the client, but also the towels are used to remove the scrub from the feet. A rich moisturizer is then applied to the feet and the massage continues as usual.
In a wet service, clients are taken out of the massage treatment room into a room where there is a warm foot bath or a Vichy shower. After applying the scrub to the client’s feet, you’d put the feet into the foot bath, or in the case of a Vichy shower, use one of the shower heads to wash off the feet. Once back in the massage treatment room, a moisturizer is then applied to the feet and the massage continues as usual. A wet foot scrub service will take more time than a dry service.
Whether wet or dry, foot scrubs are perfect for clients with tense, tired feet, said Riley. “The warm water or hot towels help to release tension and the foot scrub will help exfoliate the feet to allow the moisturizer to penetrate into the skin, leaving the client’s skin soft,” she said. The therapist can spend some extra time on the feet massaging after the foot scrub is over to continue releasing any tension.
Besides the sugar or pumice scrub itself, no special tools are needed for foot scrubs, she said. Some nail spas and salons use scrapers to remove dead skin from the feet, but those are used during a massage therapy foot scrub, she said.
Therapists can incorporate tools like massage balls, cupping, and heat and cold therapy into the massage portion of the foot scrub to enhance treatment and help relax any tension. Adding essential oils, such as lemongrass and lavender, to the scrub or the moisturizer that is used can further enhance the benefits of a foot scrub. “Each essential oil has its own benefits topically and aromatically,” Riley said.
For the most part, foot scrubs are great for all clients, but there are a few things massage therapists should look out for before starting a service, such as finding out if the client has any conditions that are contraindicated for massage Riley said. Clients with rashes, cuts, or skin irritations on their feet or the areas near the feet or with swelling or bruising of the feet should forego these treatments, she said.
Clients may have questions about how foot scrubs are incorporated into the massage treatment or what the products used are made from. “Be ready to answer the client’s questions about the process of the foot scrub and how it will help their treatment,” Riley said, and make sure you are knowledgeable about the ingredients of the scrubs, especially if allergies may be a concern for the client.
About the author
Stephanie Bouchard is a freelance writer and editor based on the coast of Maine. She frequently reports news and features for MASSAGE Magazine.