My clients often ask me how I became interested in reflexology and spending so much time working on people’s feet. In massage school I took an introductory reflexology workshop which piqued my interest, but it really wasn’t until I started the certification program through the Seattle Reflexology & Massage Center in 2008, that my passion for focused footwork really took hold.
Consider the structure of the feet: 20 muscles, 26 bones, 33 joints, and 107 ligaments in each foot. Also, the sensitivity of the feet in sensing the terrain is very impressive – 7200 nerve endings in each foot! Ever get a rock in your shoe and find yourself walking differently to take your weight off the pressure of it? Then you take your shoe off and tip it upside down to find a tiny pebble the size of a large grain of sand falls out. Because of the sensitivity of your foot, it actually senses the pebble as much bigger than it really is.
The nerve endings in the feet transmit nerve impulses up the legs to the rest of the body signaling changes that need to be made in the body to maintain alignment and balance, and the systems of the body (skin, circulatory, skeletal, muscular, endocrine, reproductive, excretory, and nervous) send signals back down to the feet.
What this means is that the feet are not merely the ends of our legs that make contact with the ground for walking and running, but they are actually sophisticated messengers that can tell us about how our bodies are functioning. They are our “eyes” on the ground to let us know what the terrain we are traversing is like.
Foot problems like calluses, corns, bunions, hammer/claw toes, and tense or tender spots as signs that there are stresses on the feet caused by shoes that are not allowing the optimal movement of the feet, no matter how “comfortable” the shoes may feel. These issues can also be signs of structural imbalances in the body or the feet that need to be addressed for the optimal functioning and health of the whole body. Strengthening and stretching the feet while you are barefoot will often prove more effective than artificial bolstering with inserts and orthotics.
Foot pain often prevents barefoot walking however, and it’s best to ease slowly into walking barefoot if you are used to being in shoes most of the time. When’s the last time you had an hour of relaxing and pain and tension relieving work on your feet? Try a session, or better yet a series of sessions of foot reflexology, and your whole body will thank you!