During the 1960's pictographs of reflexology being practised on a daily basis were found on the walls of an Egyptian pharoahs tomb - dating back to approximately 2,500BC. In spite of reflexology having been an established healing art for centuries throughout China, Japan and Egypt - it had, for the most part, been long forgotten and only began to re-surface during the 1960's, when a whole new generation rediscovered it's benefits and considered it to be an important contributor to the vast spectrum of natural therapies healing arts on offer. As a result, the popularity of reflexology gained momentum cumulatively up until the mid 90's when its popularity dwindled with Australia's change to a more conservative federal government. However, I believe, reflexology will become a highly respected natural therapy once more - when it's true value and benefits for nurturing wellbeing are fully understood and appreciated.
Before I continue, let me add the following precautionary note:
Always consult a medical practitioner when you experience any form of pain that causes you to be concerned about your wellbeing. A medical opinion and diagnosis - along with a natural therapy practitioner's assssment if desired - will put things into perspective and give you a choice as to how you proceed in regard to a diverse range of treatment options. We are very fortunate in the modern era to have various healing options and treatments available, the full span of which include both natural therapies and conventional medicine. It is a blessing to be well informed and to be able to make an informed choice about one's treatment options. Ultimately, it is the individual who has the responsibility and right to choose what one feels is right for them.
My personal discovery of reflexology began as a teenager when I began carrying a wallet sized reflexology foot and hand chart in my handbag. Frequently, I would ponder the tiny anatomical images of various organs and skeletal structures as related to our hands and feet - wondering if this really could be a possible and effective pathway to therapeutic healing. Many years later, I discovered how truly effective reflexology can be when I visited a professional reflexologist for the first time, in the United States, over three decades ago. A business associate recommended I make an appointment to visit her Reflexologist to alleviate ongoing pain I was experiencing from my previous spinal injuries. Being in recovery mode from those prior spinal injuries and sleeping on soft mattresses whilst travelling had inevitably exacerbated my back pain. Impressed from the outset with reflexology treatment, I took the opportunity to attend weekly reflexology sessions for the next six weeks, paying close attention to any progress I experienced. Specifically, pertaining to the alleviation of my back pain and easier yoga workouts, which were both on my wish-list. And both of which had noticeably improved!
Surprisingly, my energy levels had also increased. Thankfully, my friends endorsement of the reflexologist I consulted with was a gift I shall always be thankful for.
Upon our return to Australia I purchased some books about reflexology, feeling seriously inspired by what I had learned from my new friend in Daytona Beach, and began to work on my feet daily. A decade later, my back pain had dissipated completely and I was able to introduce dynamic dance type yoga routines to rock music, such as Fleetwood Mac, for my advanced yoga student classes at North Sydney Leisure Centre. Simultaneously, I conducted full day weekend Hatha yoga and reflexology workshops and seminars at McMahons Point Community Centre on Sydneys lower north shore, and began bringing reflexology into my combined yoga and holistic reflexology work. By then, I had discovered a new way to apply the principles of reflexology to the whole body, working along the entire length of the meridians from the feet to the head. My clinical and yoga teaching conceptual work had now taken my natural therapies approach in a whole new direction that was very exciting to share with others who fully appreciated what this meant for those looking for a natural, effective pick-me-up!
Having said that, Reflexology by itself won't solve all health problems because the human body is a multi-facted system that requires a lateral approach to healing - employing nutrition, regular exercise, good posture etc, but regular reflexology will certainly contribute to your welbeing in a substantial way. Especially if you can practise consciously walking while fully flexing the arches of both feet. Let me explain. Reflexology works most effectively at first base, by stimulating the body's energy systems via the nerve endings in one's two feet. There are thirty six thousand nerve endings in each foot. When the arch of the foot is fully flexed during movement, the nerve endings and the entire nervous system are stimulated. This flexing foot action involves being mindful about how you walk; making sure the arch of the foot is fully flexed all the way to the ball of the foot as the back foot leaves the ground to take each new step.
The philosophy of reflexolgy is that the two feet and hands mirror the whole body and it's major systems; the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems. For example, the head correlates with the toes. The whole length of the feet correspond to the entire length of the spine and skeletal system, including all the organs, glands and muscles. The buttocks or lower spine relate to the heel sections of both feet. The left half of the body is reflected in the left foot and the right half of the body is reflected in the right foot. There is a corresponding pressure point in the feet and hands for every single part and function of the human anatomy. Thus, in the hands of an experienced/intuitive practitioner, or a committed learner, it is possible to understand what the feet are saying about the general state of an individual's wellbeing and the energy systems involved, including the specific pressure points that require reflexology.
Even though reflexology acknowledges the head, hands and feet equally in importance, the feet are especially significant because they support every movement and via. gravity bond us to the surface of the earth. Not least, our two feet do the arduous work of facilitating our movement from one point to another, throughout each and every day. Cumulatively moving, in the average person, nine tons of body weight on an average day. It is vital, therefore, to take good care of our feet and legs in order to remain, well, flexible and mobile.
Several factors are very important when we consider the feet from a reflexology point of view -
1. The way in which we walk
2. The surfaces we walk on
3. The design of our footwear and the materials employed in the manufacturing process
4. The importance of acknowledging the degree of inertia or tension in the feet as demonstrated by pain, swelling and/or discomfort.
5. The importance of appropriate foot care, foot massage and foot baths.
The way we walk is something that for the most part, we give little thought to. The reality is that the way we walk has a profound effect on the entire central nervous system. Subsequently, the entire body including the organs, bones and musculature housed within it's structure are affected by the way we move during locomotion. During an average person's day, both feet work very hard transporting us from a to b, whilst lifting the weight of the entire body in the process. If that movement is placing unnecessary stress on the feet and legs, the whole body will suffer as a result. The way we walk is not something we are taught about as children, it is not generally a part of our education, but it should be. Thus, many people are unconscious of the fact they walk with a 'flat-footed' gait. That is, with the whole length of the foot reaching the ground in a level manner.
This creates fallen arches. As well the liver and kidneys can become extremely sluggish and congested, diminishing effective elimination of waste from the body. Excessive weight can gather around the tummy/abdominal region as a result.
All sorts of other problems can develop as a result of poor gait - lower back ache and spinal problems or head, neck and shoulder pain. In turn, this can create fertile ground for tension headaches and insomnia. It is important to rectify our gait first in order to fully benefit from the ways that reflexology can help.
Start by following these instructions barefoot, in slow motion. The foot action needs to travel from heel to toe. Place your foot on the ground with the focus on the centre of your heel, rather than the whole of your foot. This will will prevent you from rolling to the side and help you to keep your balance. Then flex your arch so that you roll onto the ball of your foot. A simple way to check your foot action is to make sure that when your back foot leaves the ground to take your next step, it is fully flexed, with just the forefoot on the ground.
This 'flexing' action of the foot during movement, stimulates the instep, so that it gets a much greater thrust of energy that it would otherwise receive. This has a very energising effect on all of the organs in the abdominal cavity as well as the spine, glandular and central nervous systems. Additional energy is sent throughout the energy pathways to the entire body. I cannot stress how important it is to mobilise the arches of the feet during locomotion.
Things to keep in mind when changing your gait.
* It will take about three months to correct the way you walk. Changing an entrenched style of walking takes time, but will pay off.
* It is best for you to practise without your shoes on to begin with.
* It is good to practise walking along the beach in wet sand, where the feet will get a lot of stimulation walking barefoot through the grains of sand. It's a very effective way to change musculature, release tension and increase foot flexibilty.
* Walk on grass or any natural earth surface barefoot, whenever possible, to boost your energy levels.
* Dispense with shoes that have been worn down on one side more than the other. Otherwise you will be trading the same old footpath (forgive the pun) - defeating the purpose of the exercise.
* When you purchase new shoes, go for natural fibres whenever possible and allow your feet to breathe.
If you would like to know more about Reflexology, consider becoming a member of my website where there will be additional information for members about how reflexology works. Members will also have the opportunity to be chosen for a complimentary reflexology foot reading.