By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on April 18, 2017
There is something blissful about a foot massage.
Devotees call it “foot work.”
There is evidence of foot reflexology being practiced long ago in ancient Egypt and China, the theory being different parts of the foot correspond to different parts of the body. Applying pressure to these foot points can alleviate distress in the body, both physical and energetic.
According to Lynda Artesani, yoga teacher with Joyful Yoga, Bonita Springs, the foundation of your body is your feet as it is where you connect to the earth. What happens in your feet travels all the way up the body, and the alignment or position of your feet will have an effect on your knees, hips, low back and overall health.
“Think train tracks; that is the alignment you want to go for,” Artesani said.
Research sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health has indicated reflexology is relaxing and can alleviate anxiety, depression and insomnia.
“Reflexology accesses the nerve plexuses that run through the feet. By soothing the central nervous system, you promote homeostasis in the corresponding areas,” said Mary Lambert, a Joyful Yoga massage therapist and reflexologist.
As for why foot rubs feel so good, Lambert explained your feet are one of the hardest working areas of the body, farthest from the heart, so the least nourished by fresh, oxygenated blood. Overuse can create wear and tear in the foot structures, and that condition is exacerbated by stagnation.
There are many different foot charts available online each reflecting different traditions. Lambert said it doesn’t matter which one you follow as most adhere to a few basic principles:
You are always walking on the front of the body. According to Lambert, the soles of the feet correspond to the front body while the tops of the feet are for the back body.
If you look at the soles of the feet, the toes and the base of the toes correspond to everything above the neck.
The spine is along the inner edge of the feet beginning on the outside of the big toe down to the side of the heel.
These five moves, designed by Lynda Artesani and presented in a recent workshop offer a do-it-yourself reflexology session.
- Start at the top.
After a warm bath, wrapping your feet in a hot towel or soaking the feet, sit with your legs long in front of you.
Cross your left ankle over your right thigh and slip one finger between each toe, and feel your toes spread and stretch.
Then, one finger at a time, “corkscrew” one finger between each toe.
2. Move down your spine.
On the same foot, inch your thumb from the top of your big toe and massage down the inner edge of your foot, massaging your spine.
Repeat 1 and 2 on your right foot.
3. Tabletop to awaken the entire foot.
Move to your hands and knees. Curl your toes under and rock forward and back. Feel the fascia open along the length of your foot.
Intensify the move by straightening one leg behind you, the toes still curled under.
4. Massage your back.
Shift your weight to your knees and hands and kick the tops of the feet into the mat to massage your neck and upper back.
5. Roll the ball.
Come to your feet, and hold a myofascial release ball or a tennis ball under the ball of your foot.
- Grip and release the ball with your toes.
- Roll the ball to the arch just under the ball of your foot. Shift more weight onto that foot, and roll the ball side to side.
- Roll the ball all the way to the heel, and push your heel on the ball and your toes into the ground as if you are wearing high heels.
Switch sides and enjoy.
Resources: Visit www.JoyfulYoga.com to book a class with Lynda Artesani or a reflexology session with Mary Lambert.