Falak whipping the soles of a criminal. One of Antoin Sevruguin's historical Iran photographs
Foot whipping (foot/feet caning, sole caning, sole beating), variously known as bastinado and falaka (falaqa, falanga, phalanga), common German terms are Bastonade and formerly Sohlenstreich, is a form of corporal punishment in which the soles of a person's bare feet are repeatedly beaten with an object. The German term Sohlenstreich can be literally translated as striking of the soles. It is sometimes favoured as a form of punishment of prisoners or torture because, although intensely painful, it leaves few to no physical marks in the long view. Different forms of bastinado are also used in western countries, however it is associated mostly with middle and far eastern nations, where in some cases it is executed publicly and is infrequently documented by eyewitnesses and photographic records.
The use of bastinado is first documented in ancient China in the year 960, the first mention in Europe dates back to 1537.
Bastinado is predominantly used where individuals are held in captivity while principally barefoot and being subjected to the right of corporal punishment by authorities. The circumstance of being mostly involuntarily barefoot is generally caused by imprisonment, slavery, servitude or similar constellations of imbalance in power.
During the times of modern era slavery in Brazil or the American South it was used where so-called "clean beating" was indicated. For female slaves a loss in value should be averted which could occur through general whipping. As many slave-codes stipulated that all slaves had to go barefoot, bastinado was an obvious choice for corporal punishment. So for castigation of especially younger women with accordingly higher marketable value bastinado was used, as it proved to be as effective but left no physical injuries.
Bastinado is still used in secret police interrogations or acts of war. The French Sûreté used it to extract confessions, British occupants used it in Palestine, French occupants in Algeria. It was commonly used in Greek prisons, 83% of all prisoners reported the use of bastinado in 1967, it was also used against rioting students. In Spanish prisons it was used as 39% of the prisoners reported about it. Other nations with recorded utilizing of bastinado are Syria, Israel, Turkey, Marocco, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Tunesia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile, South Afrika, Venezuela, Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Paraguay, Honduras, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Cameroon, Mauritius, Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan and Nepal. Within Europa the bastinado was reportedly used in Cyprus, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ukraine, Portugal, Macedonia, Slovakia and Croatia. Within colonial India it was used for tax offenses. In national socialistic Germany it was commonly used within penitentiaries and labor camps as well as in occupied Denmark and Norway against natives. Romanian prisoners were punished through bastinado during the Ceausescu dictatorship.
Bastinado is mostly carried out with an auxiliary device such as a cane, a rod, a short leather whip, a flexible rubber bat, a leather strap or an electric cable. The prisoner is generally immobilized before application of the beating. The middle eastern falaka method includes tying and securing the person's feet into an elevated position while lying on the back and beating with a wooden stick. The Persian term falaka refers to a wooden plank which is used to secure the feet prior to beating. However there were different methods of securing the prisoner for the punishment. As a method formerly utilized in German national socialistic penitentiaries, labor camps and women's prisons where detainees were often kept barefoot, the person was restrained on a wooden bench or a plank lying prone with hands tied behind while the soles of the bare feet were facing upwards. The upper body as well as the ankles were strapped down plane onto the plank. The prisoner's feet were then repeatedly beaten with a leather strap or a flexible cane. Common to all different methods the person is secured in a way to restrain the movements, so the position of the feet cannot be altered during the procedure. This is mainly done to avert serious injuries that may occur, if the feet are moved out of position reflexively and hit in an unintended way.
The strokes standardly impinge on the longitudinal arch of the foot which is the area most susceptible to pain due to the clustering of nerve endings. Under the utilization of flexible instruments with a narrow diameter the sensation of pain is described as stinging or lightning, the aftereffect as searing or burning and is relatively intense. The sensation of pain radiates through the whole body, similar to foot reflexology. The pain sensitivity of the soles does not recede under the impact of continuous beatings, the soles do not go numb and there is no inurement unlike other skin areas of the body. The subjective perception of pain rather escalates with an increasing number of strokes through ascending activation of the nociceptors. As a result even a slight impact can be perceived as highly painful after the nociceptors are activated to a certain degree. So with unchanged intensity of the strokes the perception of pain is gradually increasing to the point of maximum activation of the nociceptors. The subjective sensations of pain can however diverge due to the person's individual pain tolerance and further amplification through sentiments of anxiety and helplessness. Hereby an apprehensive person is generally more susceptible to pain the more anxious he or she is about it. 
When implemented with the usage of the above method with a flexible object of a narrow diameter the physical effects remain temporary with no injury to the numerous bones and tendons of the foot. They are sufficiently protected by the muscles of the foot, the impact of each stroke is absorbed by the skin and muscular tissue so it does not affect or harm the bones. Hematoma rarely occur because of the high thickness and elasticity of the skin under the sole of the foot similar to that of the palms. So the affected person normally sustains no serious or lasting injuries indicating medical attention. Visible marks fade away within several hours, the aftereffects of pain also ease off gradually. A beaten person is normally still able to walk after the punishment. Because of the high effectiveness and the relatively minor efforts necessary the bastinado is still used as means of judicial punishment and torture in many countries.
If the bastinado is inflicted with heavy and inflexible objects using the middle eastern falaka method, it is a particularly brutal and cruel punishment. The wounds inflicted can take a long time to heal with lasting damage to the musculoskeletal system.
This punishment has, at various times, been used in China, as well as the Middle East.
The Prime Minister of Swaziland, Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, threatened to use this form of torture (sipakatane) to punish South African activists who had taken part in a mass protest for democracy in that country.
Kerala Police is supposed to have used this as a part of torturing Naxals during the emergency period.
In act I, scene XIX of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, Sarastro orders Monostatos to be punished with 77 blows on the soles of his feet: "He! gebt dem Ehrenmann sogleich/nur sieben und siebenzig Sohlenstreich'."
In Chapter 8, Climatic Conditions, of Robert Irwin’s novel The Arabian Nightmare, Sultan’s doppelgänger is discovered and is questioned. “He was bastinadoed lightly to make him talk (for a heavy bastinado killed), but the man sobered up quickly and said nothing.”
In Chapter 31 of Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, a member of Twain's party goes to collect a specimen from the face of the Sphinx and Twain sends a sheik to warn him of the consequences: "...by the laws of Egypt the crime he was attempting to commit was punishable with imprisonment or the bastinado."
In popular culture
Foot-whipping scenes were shown in the 1978 filmMidnight Express, where the main protagonist is punished in this manner in a Turkish prison. Later in the film the same is administered to a group of schoolboys, though less severely.