Putting Your Best Foot Forward
There is a fine line between pampering your feet and torturing them. Many of us choose the pampering method one day but splurging on a pedicure, but torture them the next day by squeezing them into a pair of two-inch heels. And the pressure on our feet, believe it or not, impacts the rest of our health as well.
Many spas offer reflexology treatments to combat not only the wear and tear that our feet take but also to improve our general health and well-being. Typical reflexology involves pressure being applied to reflex points or sensors on the feet. The theory follows that there are reflex points in the feet that correspond to other parts of the body.
"These reflex areas can be manipulated by a finger and thumb motion," said Sheryl Hammond, a reflexologist at the Center for Integrative Health in Louisville, Ky. "It stimulates the nervous system and it brings the body over time to a state of improved balance and well-being."
Reflexology also can provide stress relief, promote relaxation, ease pain and help to detoxify the body. Proponents of reflexology say that it achieves a balance between relaxation and being energized. Hammond says reflexology is a way for the body to heal itself and operate at its most optimum level.
It seems that this unique technique is catching on. A professor at Michigan State University, Gwen Wyatt, is conducting a federally funded study involving 350 women with advanced breast cancer or a recurrence of breast cancer. The study will examine the effects of reflexology verses a placebo to see if it improves the quality of life.
Check your local spa to see if reflexology is available. Hammond recommends that new clients come once a week for four consecutive weeks and then evaluate whether they need additional sessions.
"Pressure Points" by Darla Carter. Louisville Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky. January 5, 2006.
Updated: January 11, 2006