The Magical Power of the Foot Massage

It helps with "growing pains".

I love baby feet: unused, soft, and free of stink… Well, usually.

I’m not a fan of touching other people’s feet. If I do, chances are:

A) I married you, you just took a shower, and I want one in return


B) I gave birth to you and your feet don’t stink…. yet.

But I LOVE getting a foot massage.

Sadly, they are in short supply after almost ten years of marriage and a lack of visits to a masseuse.

Still, there is just something magical about foot massages.

This simple fact hit me one night when my six-year-old awoke, SCREAMING.

“MY LEG HURTS! OWOWOW!” Over and over.

Nothing I did distracted The Tackler from his pain and I finally removed him from his room. I took him downstairs and grabbed some lotion, thinking a leg massage might do the trick.


“OW! It’s hurts, Mommy!” Tears streamed down his eyes, and I hit the Parenting Point of Desperation: where you will try anything you think might work.

I switched to rubbing his feet, and like a switch, his cries stopped.

“Does that feel better?” I asked.


After a few minutes I convinced him to go back to bed if I kept rubbing his feet—fearing the logistics of maneuvering him into a top bunk bed if he fell asleep.

Less than ten minutes later, his deep breaths were audible and I left the room—amazed something so simple helped.

The mini bike rider.

Lil Diva was a bike riding machine at the park–riding more than she ever had before. I wonder if it was part of the cause of her leg pains. And no, she isn’t in the street here. This park has a kid-size town, complete with streets and stoplights for bike and scooter riding.

Then Sunday night, after a very active day at the park, my three-and-a-half-year-old Lil Diva woke up two hours after falling asleep. SCREAMING.

It’s more challenging to get her to speak while incoherent, but finally I deciphered her words: “My leg hurts!”

At first, I chalked it up to her banging it on her toddler bed—she sleeps in the strangest positions.

When nothing worked after twenty minutes—even a video on the iPad failed to quiet her sobs—I was reminded how this resembled her brother’s cries.

I brought her downstairs and gave her some ibuprofen (to avoid having a reoccurrence). Then I brought out the lotion and started rubbing her tiny feet.

It was the classic light switch scenario again: her cries stopped.

She was exhausted and after only a minute I convinced her to continue the foot rub in her bed and she capitulated easily.

After five minutes of a foot massage, my daughter was quiet when I paused, and I escaped to the chair in her room to make sure she didn’t scream again.


Naturally I consider myself an expert on this situation after a 2/2 success rate and consider it my duty as a parent to share how something actually worked when I hit the Parent Point of Desperation.

So if your child wakes up screaming, and claiming of leg pain—which according to my mother and Google is often credited to “growing pains”, although some medical sites claim this to be a “myth”—whatever the cause, try a good old fashioned foot massage with some lotion.

It’s magical.

* * *

Anyone else had a child wake up with these “growing pains”? What did you do?

About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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13 Responses to The Magical Power of the Foot Massage

  1. visitingmissouri says:

    I loved your depiction of getting foot rubs. I’m okay giving them (basically on the same grounds as you, although I never expect to give birth ever), however, because it’s good quality time. And it gets me brownie points within minutes. Also, I like how science dismisses ‘growth pains’ as a myth? Do they at least have an alternative explanation or are they saying there is no pain?

  2. Foot rubs are excellent for brownie points (HINT HINT dear husband).

    The sites don’t seem to argue that the children are in pain–it is very obvious the kids hurt a lot. I think the issue in question is whether it’s pain from actual growing, or caused by a muscle cramp or other medical issue. Since “growing pains” happen during the early years–sometimes before a child can talk–it’s hard to know why they are hurting. The term “growing pains” might be assigned to this because older children have complained of leg pain during growth spurts and toddlers and young children grow very quickly.

    I asked my mother about it (the expert in all things, naturally), and she says my brother had the same problem when he was little–and he was very tall for his age as a child.

    I’m just glad I found something that seems to help, because there is nothing worse than hitting that Parent Point of Desperation and being completely helpless when your children are in pain.

  3. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    I will give this a shot. FWIW, as I type this, I am waiting . . . for a foot massage, my first in many years. 🙂

  4. thealaskan says:

    I remember having “growing pains” as a child. They are real. I LOVE foot massage too. Can’t seem to even get enough of them.

  5. thealaskan says:

    You need to teach the kiddos to give foot massages. If only I could teach my dogs to do that…

  6. Mimi says:

    Not a bit surprised. Feet first by Laura Norman a “Guide to Foot Reflexology” is a wonderful book about ways to massage your feet to alleviate certain physical symptoms. I have used for migraines, neck & back pain.

  7. I wake up with foot cramps lots of times. Can you come over to my house? It’s just a short plane ride away. 😉

    • Foot cramps suck.

      The only time I remember having leg cramps while during my pregnancies, when I quickly learned that stretching was THE WORST thing I could possibly do. The only way to avoid a full onslaught of pain was to stand up immediately (I’d get them after sleeping).

      I don’t know if a foot massage would’ve helped those…

      And I love to visit you, but I don’t do feet unless I’m related to you. I do, however, give great back rubs…

  8. I must try this the next time Lucas has an episode.

    Poor kiddos

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