To begin the foot binding process, the foot binder would gently soak the child’s feet in a solution of animal blood and herbs. Her toenails were trimmed and groomed, and her feet were thoroughly massaged. Once the skin was softened and the muscles were relaxed, the foot binder would curl the child’s toes down towards the sole of the foot as far as the bones would allow. The binder would then curl the toes farther than the bones would allow, snapping the toddler’s phalanges and forming a kind of twisted foot-fist. No manner of pain relief was employed during this process, so the binder was required to disregard any agonized screams. Next, the arch was broken.
But that's just the beginning of the process. Read the rest of it, and how foot binding finally fell out of style, at Damn Interesting. Link