Your foot is a puzzle. It is composed of toes, tendons, ligaments and bones, each of which play an intricate part in keeping you grounded. Without all of these parts working together, movement would be painful, if not impossible, creating a convincing argument that we must treat our feet with compassion. Especially as a runner, their function is critical to the trials of miles we put our bodies through.
So how do we give back to our feet? How do we show them that we care? Welcome to the world of Reflexology.
Archeological evidence shows that the practice of reflexology dates back to ancient Egypt, China, and Japan. Our ancestors developed an acute understanding of our reflexes and how they shared ties with our nervous systems. Feet were the undeniable chart that maps our movement and carries the body’s weight. While their fingers soothed their harden soles, the euphoric sensations produced motivation the ancients to pass on these internal benefits with pictures on the walls.
Clothed in socks and shoes, we rarely get the opportunity to study our feet. But what if our feet held the answer to curing pain that we experience in other parts of the body?
Reflexology is treatment that involves the physical act of applying pressure to the feet and hand with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.
This could explain, why after a long day, a simple massage to our feet feels so good. Our eyes close, ours mouths twist into a grin and with our heads titled back we embrace the release of built up stress.
The feet, being made for movement, are equipped with hundreds of tiny sensors that react to their environment, and these sensors act as the messengers to our brain. Without these messages you would be left to fend for yourself! Imagine stepping on rusty nail and never knowing it. On the other hand, imagine never feeling the sand between your toes or the grass underfoot.
Barefoot runners in particular might be interested in the practice of reflexology and how it relates to foot care since those who run sans shoes receive something of a reflexology treatment each time they head out the door. While this subject is delved into more thoroughly in the barefoot running book, you can feel the benefits yourself by simply walking without shoes. The Earth underfoot allows the body to dispel the stresses of daily life with each natural step.
So do you have to have a certificate to enjoy the benefits of Reflexology? No, all it takes is a conscious effort to form a habit. Start by taking off your shoes, wiggling your toes, and grabbing your feet. Use the finger and thumb to rub all areas of the foot. Give yourself a 10 minute session. Notice how different parts of the foot produce stronger sensations of pleasure – these are the areas that need more attention. What is even more gratifying is that these practices can be conducted whenever you have free time.
Photo Credit: Expedient InfoMedia on Flickr