In a word, your feet look luminous. Your pedicurist carefully cut and trimmed your nails, and either coated them in a bright lacquer, or buffed them to a brilliant shine. Steady hands carefully filed away rough skin, leaving your feet smooth and supple. Absolutely perfect.... or is it? Although your feet maintain a flawless appearance, are you giving the same level of attention to their health?
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, each of us will walk an average of 100,000 miles during our lives! This can be quite stressful on our often undervalued extremities. Enter reflexology, an alternative healing modality that may not only benefit your feet, but the rest of your body as well.
Reflexology is occasionally confused with foot massage, which is a different form of bodywork. The Reflexology Association of America defines reflexology, in part, as “a protocol of manual techniques, such as thumb and finger-walking, hook and backup and rotating-on-a-point, applied to specific reflex areas predominantly on the feet and hands.” Stimulation of these reflex areas is said to encourage self-healing throughout the entire body.
According to the International Institute of Reflexology, reflexology has its inception in ancient Egypt. The noteworthy individuals who pioneered reflexology in the United States include Dr. William Fitzgerald, who introduced the concept of dividing the body into different zones which were reflected in the feet. Later, Eunice Ingham determined that each area of the foot corresponded with parts of the body, including organs and glands.
The University of Minnesota provides a comprehensive summary of information on reflexology research, noting that reflexology has positive effects on circulation, kidney function, depression, and anxiety. The studies also indicated encouraging findings related to Type 2 diabetes, cancer symptoms, and multiple sclerosis. So, what do recipients of reflexology have to say? My clients have various reactions, the most common being relaxation, stress relief, and the temporary alleviation of foot pain. Some have almost fallen asleep during the session!
These results are quite impressive, given that we periodically mistreat our feet, two of the most seldom seen parts of our bodies. Shoved into sneakers or teetering atop tall heels, they spend much of their time in dark, and sometimes moist places. When the warmer months do present themselves, sandals or flip flops with insufficient arch support can cause pain. The effects of improper and ill-fitting footwear, or just spending too much time on our feet, is yet another reason to experience reflexology. A session may be the perfect remedy after a long day visiting store after store at the expansive outlet mall, or a wild night partying in those brand new pumps (a size too small, but they were so cute)!
Even with the reported benefits of reflexology, note that reflexologists are not medical professionals, and do not diagnose or treat illnesses. However, reflexology can be used in conjunction with medical treatment. To be safe, always check with you doctor first, as there are certain conditions where the administration of reflexology is not advised.
When seeking a reflexologist, keep in mind that reflexology laws vary based upon location. Some states require reflexologists to be licensed massage therapists. Others necessitate separate licensing or registration, while some states do not regulate reflexology at all. You should also be aware of the type of reflexology education your practitioner received. An internet search yields results for dozens of training programs, but your state may have specific requirements. An excellent place to begin your research is the American Reflexology Certification Board. The Board, established in 1991, provides certification for reflexologists, information on reflexology education, and a list of board-certified reflexologists across the nation.
Our feet provide us with many advantages, including the gifts of balance and movement. We frequently take them for granted until, for one reason or another, we become incapacitated. Incorporating reflexology into our lifestyles is one way in which we can focus on the wellness of our feet. In addition, even if we have lost the use of our feet, reflexology can still be helpful, due to its impact elsewhere in the body. So continue to beautify those toes, but treat your feet properly on the inside as well. Give reflexology a try! You may become a believer.
~ Shelby Fizer