I had no business signing up to run a marathon as I am not a runner. Actually, considering I got cut from every sports team I ever tried out for, I’ve never been any kind of athlete at all—so I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I committed to running the famous New York City Marathon this fall.
Had I done even five minutes of research ahead of time, I would have known what to expect during the training process, but because I went in completely naive, I was genuinely shocked at how much my feet hurt after every long run. Apparently, had I done even one minute of research ahead of time, I wouldn’t have been surprised at this—but there I was, six weeks out from the race with screaming, crying arches.
Thankfully, it was around this time that I got my hands on the Homedics Shiatsu Air 2.0 Foot Massager With Soothing Heat ($144), which not only elevated my self-care routine, but also made it a whole lot easier to run 10+ miles on a regular basis.
What makes the device so heavenly—particularly for runners, like me—is how well it mimics an IRL Shiatsu massage. “Shiatsu massage can help relieve trigger point pain and increase circulation in the feet, and increased circulations usually means faster recovery,” says Nam Tran, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist in Dallas, TX. Obviously, it isn’t quite the same as settling in for a 90-minute session with a therapist (Dr. Tran notes that the device lacks the knowledge and personalization an actual human can offer), but in terms of how good it leaves your feet feeling afterward, it’s pretty dang close.
It recreates the feel of someone ironing out your knots by using a combination of kneading balls (like what you’d expect from the massage chair at the nail salon) and air pressure. “The kneading devices can work on stretching out soft tissue structures in the foot such as the plantar fascia,” says Dr. Tran, adding that this is a commonly inflammated structure in runners. The air pressure takes this to the next level by squeezing your feet—in a good way, I promise—so that the kneading tools can get way down deep into your muscles.
It takes things up another notch with the addition of heat, which Dr. Tran says is a great way of increasing circulation to the feet. “As circulation increases, it brings healing factors to the areas that are in need of repair, which can be incredibly beneficial for people suffering from foot pain,” he explains.
Not only is the tool helpful for runners (“after a long run, stretching and massaging can greatly decrease symptoms of pain and achiness,” says Dr. Tran), but it’s also great for anyone who spends time on their feet. “If you work on your feet, using a foot massager can help you recover at the end of the day so that you are ready for work the next day,” says Dr. Tran. “Also, these massagers can be a great way to wind down and relax at the end of the day.”
Speaking from experience, I can confirm that this is 100 percent true. Though I started using the device in the lead-up to the marathon, I finished the race almost a month ago and have still been sticking my feet in it every day (… sometimes twice). It’s one of those lovely self-care practices that you can engage in while you’re sitting on the couch—I like to use it when I’m working on my laptop during the day or watching TV at night—and leaves your feet feeling better and better after every use.
Though there isn’t likely another marathon in my future, the Homedics Shiatsu Foot Massager is absolutely here to stay.