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Foot Reflexology: Magical, Soothing and Healing

Foot reflexology reference pointsWhat is Reflexology? Contrary to occasional misinterpretations I have read on the internet stating that Reflexology is not massage, it can be an extremely effective form of therapeutic foot massage, according to Inge Dougans, author of ‘Reflexology, Foot Massage for Total Health’.
This ancient holistic healing technique treats the person as a whole with the goal being to induce a state of balance and harmony in the body which, in a word, is called homeostasis. The word homeostasis was one of the first important words I frequently heard during my training in massage therapy school. Almost 12 years have passed since then and the word is as important as ever.

Amazingly, our body can heal itself if given the chance. Reflexology can help by activating the body’s natural healing powers and re-establishing the equilibrium to facilitate normal functioning.
Our feet ground us, literally and figuratively. They are our base, our foundation, and our contact with the earth and all its flowing energies.

As I write these words, I am reminded of my granddaddy’s constant reminders for me to put on my shoes. I have never been fond of wearing shoes; they constrict me. I like the feeling of my feet against the earth, on soft vibrant green grass sprinkled with 4 leaf clover bordered by hard orange clay earth. This was the foundation of my grandparents’ Virginia homestead that I loved to visit during school breaks. I think part of the “constricted” feeling stems from the fact that my shoe size has increased from a size 9 as a teenager, to an 11 ½ narrow as an adult. Somehow the narrow description makes it sound better.

“You’ve got a good understanding, but it’s a long way from your head,” Granddaddy would recite throughout my childhood visits. I didn’t understand what he meant then but now, in his memory, I often recite, “It takes a big woman to fill my shoes,” or “I’m outstanding in my field…or anybody’s field.” (I just realized these quips would not be funny had I been born in ancient China!)

  • Today, after subjecting my cute little feet to the environment for many years, I am a proponent of Foot Reflexology. I’ve learned that the feet are a perfect microcosm of the body. All the organs, glands and other parts of the body are laid out in the same arrangement on the feet as reflections/reflexes of the body parts, according to author Inge Dougans.

Dougans states that a reflex is an involuntary or unconscious response to a stimulus.  In Reflexology, when the reflexes on the feet are stimulated, an involuntary response is elicited in organs and glands connected by energy pathways to these specific reflexes. Then the reflexes, when correctly stimulated, can have a profound influence on our state of health.

Reflexology can be performed on the ears and hands, too, but the feet encompass more specific reflex points that cover a larger area, giving the therapist optimal access to the abundance of nerve endings present.

How does Reflexology work? When pressure is applied to certain points on the feet, electro nerve impulses are activated and form a message. The message passes through afferent neurons to a ganglion and then passes from the ganglion via efferent neurons to the specific organ, which will respond.

Does it hurt? When there is tenderness or sensitivity in a particular area, your therapist will make a note of it as it is an indication that more work is needed in that area of your foot (your body). Gradually, as the area is worked, sensitivity will diminish. In my own experiences of receiving foot reflexology, any “hurt” has been a “good hurt,” and seemingly, my feet talk, always asking for more.

The most important step towards achieving normalization for the body is to reduce tension and induce relaxation. When the body is relaxed, circulation can flow unimpeded and supply nutrients and necessary oxygen to the cells; body organs can then return to a normal state and function efficiently. Professional massage of the reflex areas on the feet serves to establish which parts of the body are out of balance. Examples of conditions or complaints we treat on a regular basis are: tension, sinus, and menstrual headaches, neck pain, low back pain, and hip pain with and without sciatica symptoms. And to introduce clients to the magically soothing modality of Foot Reflexology, we give all clients who desire foot massage “a touch of reflexology” during their massage or facial session.

It is important for you to know that we, as Florida and Georgia Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT’s), do not diagnose, prescribe, or propose a cure for your condition or dis-ease; rather we help your body to relax, while decreasing pain levels, improving your circulation and assisting in the elimination of toxins.

When was your last Foot Reflexology session?

Remember: Foot Reflexology is not advisable if you have:

•    A contagious or acute infectious disease
•    Had recent surgery for a malignant tumor
•    Foot wounds, burns or infection
•    Deep vein thrombosis/phlebitis
•    Pregnancy (treatment should be done with caution to certain reflexes and caution should be taken particularly in the early stages or first trimester of pregnancy).
•    Recently taken strong medications or used alcohol
•    Extremely ticklish feet (we duct tape your feet to the massage table and proceed)   – Just kidding!

Nancy Shores, LMT, Esthetician

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