For some, a good foot massage is total bliss, while others cringe at the mere thought of baring their feet, let alone having them touched.
Wherever you sit on the footsie comfort scale, treating your tootsies to some TLC goes much further than a pedi and polish.
The ancient art of reflexology has been practised for hundreds of years, throughout Chinese and Egyptian history, but was first called reflexology in 1913, by the American medical professionals, William H. Fitzgerald and Edwin F. Bowers.
But what is it and how does it work?
“Reflexology is a complementary holistic healing therapy that works your whole body system through your feet and also, on occasion, through your hands,” explains trained reflexologist Sharon Walker. “A reflexologist will work along your feet, massaging particular reflex points which have been found to correlate and reflect other areas of the body – so the toes are linked with the head and brain, for instance, and so on.”
The idea is that energy points in the feet are revitalised through massage, which relieves tension elsewhere in the body, helping to minimise and ward off pain, discomfort and illness.
“Working and massaging congested or ‘crunchy’ points found in the feet, can help release tension and pain in the corresponding point in the body, which can help rebalance you,” explains Walker.
Reflexology is used to help soothe physical as well as mental ailments.
It’s a way to find peace and calm mentally, as well as physically. “The fact you lie down for an hour, away from the stresses and strains of every day life, means reflexology is also great for settling yourself and finding a way to just ‘be’ in the moment, as well as being a great way to reboot your system,” says Walker.
It is, naturally, ideal to visit a trained reflexologist, however, “a great way to work these pressure and reflex points in the feet, without seeing a reflexologist specifically, is to walk barefoot, particularly on the beach,” says Walker. “Doing that, all the points in your feet are worked equally, which explains why we often feel re-energised after a walk on the beach.”
It’s also been found through reflexology that the shape and colour of your feet can point to certain personality traits and health factors. For example, dry, cracked feet reveals dehydration, while patchy yellow and red skin on the feet can indicate signs of infection elsewhere in the body.
“Traditionally, foot shapes have also been seen as ways to denote character types,” explains Walker. “So, if your toes are bent, it has been said that means you may not reach your potential, while, if your second toe is longer than your big toe, emotionally you are prone to experiencing great highs and lows.”
Always consult your doctor if you are worried about any health symptoms.