Treat your feet! Liz’s reflexology home pedicure
Reflexology is one of my all-time favourite complementary therapies and I’m convinced of its powers to help re-energise and revive the body. I’m actually quite sceptical when it comes to some alternative practices, but find reflexology surprisingly effective – if carried out by a good practitioner. When I was first told that pressing specific points on the feet (and hands) could diagnose disease and areas of imbalance within the body (and help heal them) I was wary, but this is exactly what I’ve found it can do.
Essentially, the foot is said to mirror the shape of the body, with the head being the top of the big toe and the neck the area around the big toe joint. The sinuses, ears and eyes are all located around the joints and pads of the smaller toes, the spine runs down the inside length of the foot, and the solar plexus and central organs such as the colon and kidneys are mapped out around the middle of the foot. The bladder, reproductive organs and base of the spine are located nearer the heel. A reflexology session may not be altogether enjoyable as the therapist uses their thumb to work systematically around each foot, applying firm pressure to massage each reflex zone or pressure point. Areas of the body that are out of balance (or dis-eased) feel slightly crunchy to the therapist – and quite painful to the client. My first session accurately diagnosed a damaged vertebrae on the right side of my lower back and a recurrence of sinusitis, which magically cleared up some hours after. I’ve been a fan ever since and it’s the one therapy I try and make time for at least a few times a year.
Many salons and spas now offer a form of reflexology alongside a more beautifying pedicure. This is my at-home version for when I can’t get a professional therapist treatment. Enjoy!
Reflexology home pedicure
Start by soaking your feet in a bowl of warm to hot water for five or ten minutes. Add a few drops of antiseptic tea-tree essential oil to help combat any fungal infections. Dry carefully (especially in between the toes). Sit comfortably and start with your right foot. Begin by massaging a small amount of your favourite body cream or massage oil (almond or grapeseed oil are good choices) into your foot, supporting it on your opposite knee. Use your knuckles to massage the inner sole (this covers many reflex points and you may feel some sore spots as you knead).
To help tension headaches: Use your thumb to press the top of each toe, holding any sore spot for the count of ten while you deeply inhale and exhale, gently massaging any soreness away. Work around the base of the big toe, again deeply inhaling and exhaling as you ease tight spots between your thumb and forefinger. I sit in the bath holding my big toes – a weirdly effective way to relieve neck and headaches!
To give the system a boost: Follow the central line from your second toe downwards with your thumb until you reach the centre of your foot. Press firmly around this area (this is the main energy centre and may feel uncomfortable). Hold for a count of ten while deeply inhaling and exhaling. Repeat on each foot.
To aid the back and spine: Use your thumb to massage slowly in small circles, starting by the inner heel and working upwards, following the curve of the foot all the way up to your big toe. This area directly correlates with the spine – the lower back around the heel area and the neck around the big toe joint, so pay particular attention to any sore spots along the way.
If this taster intrigues you to try the real thing, here are some of the best professional bodies for finding a good therapist and many make home visits:
- Pressing specific points on the feet can diagnose disease and areas of imbalance within the body
- These printed reflexology socks are cleverly printed with a map of the pressure points to press on each foot and are a useful beginners tool