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Warm foot baths can help against cold feet, cooling foot baths refresh on warm days and a foot bath can also be supportive therapy for various illnesses. Depending on the type of health complaint and the desired effect, various additives can be added to a foot bath.
The foot bath is also a component of hydrotherapy, which has been used as a therapeutic support since ancient times. For example, Sebastian Kneipp's water applications are known here.
Foot bath - a brief overview
You can find all the important information about the foot bath in our short overview.
- Description: A foot bath is a partial bath up to hand width below the back of the knee.
- Effect: A foot bath can have a warming or cooling effect and support the immune system.
- Application areas: A cold or warm footbath is used for varicose veins (severe varicose veins), edema (water accumulation in the tissue), overheating, circulatory disorders, sweaty feet (hyperhidrosis pedis), difficulty falling asleep and strengthening the immune system. A warm foot bath is used, for example, for irritable bladder, cold feet, constipation or beginning infections.
- Possible side effects: There are no known side effects.
- Contraindications: A cold foot bath should not be carried out with cold feet, irritable bladder, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure (hypertension), during menstruation, with arterial circulatory disorders or arterial occlusive disease (stage III-IV) and acute cold. Likewise, people who freeze easily should avoid cold applications. Warm foot baths are not recommended for inflammatory skin diseases on the feet and / or calves, high blood pressure, massive varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency or arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). People with acute venous thrombosis should refrain from a foot bath.
- Note: The addition of alkalis (soaps) in the foot bath destroys the protective acid mantle of the skin and thus increases the susceptibility to skin diseases such as athlete's foot, nail fungus or eczema.
The circulation can be influenced by a foot bath. Warm water contributes to relaxation and relaxation. When using cold water, the vessels narrow first, which then widen again. This supports blood circulation, lymph circulation and the metabolism of the tissue. Since the skin absorbs a temperature stimulus in a foot bath, this can influence internal organs via so-called reflex arches (nerve conduction from the skin through the spinal cord to the internal organs).
The foot bath has different effects depending on the level of stimulation: Small stimuli can stimulate the vital force, medium stimuli can promote this and large stimuli can have an inhibiting effect. Too strong stimuli are counterproductive. The stimulus strength should be adjusted to the starting position of the person who wants to take a foot bath.
In the case of a foot bath, the container to be used should be large enough so that both feet can comfortably sit next to each other. It is also important to ensure that the feet are warm again a few minutes after each foot bath, whether warm or cold. If this does not work, start with increasing foot baths (see below).
A cold foot bath is refreshing at first, then relaxing and calming. The water temperature should be at least 12 degrees Celsius and not exceed 18 degrees Celsius. The duration is between 30 seconds and two minutes. After the feet have dried in the air, warm socks are pulled over them. Cold foot baths can be used to treat vein problems, headaches, overheating, gout or nosebleeds.
This is a special form of cold foot bath Treading water. This application belongs to the Kneipp applications and supports in case of sleep problems, beginning disturbances of the arterial blood flow, varicose veins, sensitivity to the weather and chronic fatigue. In addition, scientists were able to demonstrate positive effects in patients with polyneuropathies in a study. After several weeks of Kneipp treatments, the patients reported a decrease in their sensations.
In this application, the foot bath is filled with cold water between ten degrees Celsius and 18 degrees Celsius to such an extent that only three quarters of the calves are covered. The “treading water” is carried out for one to three minutes in the “stork step”: You stand on one leg while pulling the other up at an angle until the knee of the raised leg is approximately at waist level and the tip of the foot is approximately at knee level. Then you put the leg down again and repeat the whole thing on the other side.
Please make absolutely sure that you can hold on well during the "stork step", that your foot bath stands securely and has a non-slip coating. It is also important that the feet warm up quickly after the foot bath. Exercise or warm socks support warming.
A rising footbath warms the entire organism and dilates the blood vessels. This starts with a water temperature of 33 degrees Celsius and increases to 41 degrees Celsius every minute by continuously pouring hot water. A rising foot bath should not take longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Now the feet are taken out of the water, dried and it is recommended to take a rest period of 30 minutes. The increasing foot bath is used for cystitis, mild colds, sinus problems and menstrual pain.
A warm foot bath increases the general blood circulation and supplies the body with warmth. A warm foot bath is between 36 degrees Celsius and 38 degrees Celsius and a hot one between 39 degrees Celsius and 41 degrees Celsius, and both take about ten to 20 minutes. It helps with sleep problems, tendency to infections, constipation and chronic cold feet.
Foot bath according to Schiele
The "foot bath according to Schiele" is a special tub with a heatable plate on the bottom of the vessel. The water is heated up to 0.5 degrees Celsius per minute. The temperature rises from 35 degrees Celsius to 43 degrees Celsius. This passively trains the cardiovascular system. This special therapeutic foot bath is offered in naturopathic practices and some clinics.
Foot bath for care
A foot bath does not necessarily have to be carried out for health reasons. It can also be used to prepare subsequent foot care, for example to remove cornea. For this, the foot bath should not be hotter than around 38 degrees Celsius and have a bathing time of ten to a maximum of twenty minutes. A little vinegar can be added to the bath to soften the cornea. This makes it easier to remove afterwards.
Additives in the foot bath
Various plant additives, salt or mustard flour can support the effect of the foot bath. If essential oils are to be added to the foot bath, they must be mixed with an emulsifier beforehand. Cream, milk or whey powder serve well here. The mixture is then placed in the foot bath.
When using essential oils, the principle "less is more" applies. A few drops of oil are enough. It is possible that the essential oils cause allergic reactions. If you are unsure about the application, you should discuss this in advance with a doctor.
Recipes for soothing foot baths
Foot baths can be very beneficial. Most of the recipes are also easy to use and the ingredients are available in almost every household.
A Anti-stress foot bath is carried out with warm water between 36 degrees Celsius and 38 degrees Celsius. Essential oils, such as lemon oil, orange oil, lavender oil or thyme oil, help to lighten the mood and relieve stress. A few drops of a high-quality oil, mixed with an emulsifier such as milk or cream, are good for adding to the bath water.
With sweaty feet one can Foot bath made from sage leaves or oak bark alleviate the symptoms. A tablespoon of boiling water is poured over a tablespoon of dried sage or dried oak bark and strained after about ten minutes. This decoction is added to the bath water.
If the sinus infection starts and / or the cold begins Foot bath with mustard flour be helpful. The bathing vessel is filled with water at a temperature of 36 degrees Celsius to 37 degrees Celsius. Ground mustard flour is mixed with lukewarm water to a pulp, put in a cloth, squeezed out and the mustard flour water is added to the foot water. The towel is tied tightly and also placed in the bathing vessel. This can then be expressed several times with the feet during the bath. In order not to get the rising mustard flour smell in the nose, the vessel is covered with a towel.
The bathing time is five minutes to a maximum of 15 minutes, depending on skin sensitivity. If the skin turns red, the bath is ended. After bathing, the feet are rinsed lukewarm, dried and then oiled. As long as the skin is still red, another mustard meal foot bath should not be taken.
Cold foot baths are not recommended for cold feet, irritable bladder, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure (hypertension), during menstruation, for arterial circulatory disorders or arterial occlusive disease (stage III-IV) and acute cold. Likewise, people who freeze easily should avoid cold applications.
Warm foot baths are not recommended for inflammatory skin diseases on the feet and / or calves, high blood pressure, massive varicose veins or arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
People with acute venous thrombosis should refrain from a foot bath.
If you are unsure about the application, you should consult a doctor in advance. (sw, sm, kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Pschyrembel Dictionary of Naturopathy, 2nd edition, 2000 Berlin, New York: de Gruyter
- Uehleke, Bernhard & Wöhling, Heike & Stange, Rainer. (2008). A prospective «distance study» (Study by Correspondence) on the effects of Kneipp hydrotherapy in patients with complaints from polyneuropathy. Swiss Journal of Holistic Medicine / Swiss Journal of Integrative Medicine. 20. 10.1159 / 000286300, ResearchGate
- Kim, Eun-Young & Kim, Min-Kyung & Kim, Sun. (2018). Comparison of the relaxation and calming effect of a foot bath and a lavender foot bath, through EEG and emotional responses analysis. Journal of Odor and Indoor Environment. 17. 122-131. 10.15250 / joie.2018.17.2.122, ResearchGate
- Otaki, A. & Kawashima, Y. & Takagi, M. & Tsugawa, H. & Fukuoka, E. & Asano, K .. (2017). Influence of foot bath on body temperature change. Journal of the Showa Medical Association. 77. 82-87, ResearchGate
- Aydın, Duygu & Hartiningsih, Siti & Izgi, Melike & Bay, Sevgi & Unlu, Kubra & Tatar, Meryem & Alparslan, Ayse & Ozeri, Mohammed & Dane, Senol. (2016). Potential beneficial effects of foot bathing on cardiac rhythm. Clinical & Investigative Medicine. 22.214.171.12411 / cim.v39i6.27501, ResearchGate
- Son, Yu & Yoo, Myung. Effects of a Footbath Program on Heart Rate Variability, Blood Pressure, Body Temperature and Fatigue in Stroke Patients. Journal of Korean Biological Nursing Science. 18. 51-59. 10.7586 / jkbns.2016.18.1.51, ResearchGate