Thai Reflexology: Treating the Feet

Posted by on Jul 25, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Thai Reflexology: Treating the Feet

~Thai Reflexology~

Treating the Feet: What You Probably Know and What May Surprise You

You probably know… The feet support the entire body, connecting us to the ground and moving us about our world; yet we mostly use, abuse, and then sadly neglect these important workhorses. Instead of lovingly caring for and properly appreciating them, we cram them into tight and uncomfortable shoes and repeatedly slam them into paved surfaces.

Whether you believe in it or not, most of us have heard of Chinese Reflexology, acupressure on points of the feet thought to stimulate various organs and other parts of the body. Interestingly, this form of reflexology goes back to ancient Egyptian times and can be found depicted in hieroglyphics.

Like any soothing massage, attention to the feet can help relax and calm us, relieving stress and improving sleep. Research has shown foot massage and reflexology to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and enhance mood. Also, like any massage or movement practice, working the feet improves circulation. A 2011 Spanish study demonstrated significant increases in oxygen levels and blood flow to the feet and legs.

But did you know… Helping the feet helps proprioception and balance. Proprioception is our “6th sense” that provides crucial information to the central nervous system about where our body is in the space around us. Its input depends upon receptors throughout the body constantly relaying information about where we are and how we are moving. Our feet have some of the highest concentration of these sensory receptors (an estimated 200,000 in each foot!). Yet when we spend all day in tight shoes and overusing our feet, they get overstimulated, habituated, and basically get bored and switch ‘off.’ In the same way we would stimulate our brain to keep it functioning well, we can stimulate our feet for a better foundation and optimal sensitivity. When our feet do a good job sensing, we fall less and have better quality and efficiency of movement in general.

Foot massage and reflexology have been the subject of scientific research over recent years, suggesting significant improvements in the lives of cancer patients, diabetics, those with MS and those suffering from PMS, edema, headaches and migraines, and plantar fasciitis.

Of particular note is a 2012 study at Michigan State University where 385 women with advanced stage breast cancer were given foot treatments. Those who received reflexology demonstrated significant improvement in breathing rates (shortness of breath is a common side effect) and, consequently, an enhanced ability to perform activities of daily living. Those receiving foot massage reported significantly less fatigue and improvements in sleep. Another study showed decreases in pain and nausea of cancer patients as a result of treating the feet. Also, a 2014 study reported in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that reflexology, when combined with conventional medicine, helps diabetics by bringing about a state of homeostasis (the balanced state of optimal conditions in the body).

Regardless of all the above… Giving some sweet attention to your feet helps you unwind, soothes those tired, overworked appendages, and it just plain feels good… so why not?

 

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References:

  • International Journal of Nursing Practice 2010
  • Medical Science Monitor Basic Research 2015
  • Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine 2014
  • BMC Nursing 2013
  • Cancer Nursing 2000
  • Oncology Nursing Forum 2012
  • Science Daily Nov. 2012
  • Multiple Sclerosis August 2003

By Lisa Thiel E-RYT500, Thai Yoga Massage Practitioner, and Thai Reflexologist

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