What Is Foot Reflexology
Foot reflexology is an ancient and non-intrusive therapy that can be used to treat people of all ages. It works by applying pressure to specific reflex points on the feet, where each reflex point corresponds to a particular organ or part of the body.
If there is any problem in specific parts of the body, the reflex points in your feet will reveal a sensitivity. When pressure is applied to the sensitive reflex, there will be a stimulating effect throughout the nervous system. Overall, reflexology helps to reduce pain, improves nerve and blood supply, normalize body functions, relaxing the body, mind as well as spirit.
Quite often, reflexology is referred as “medicine of the soul” as it is able to reach the root of physical or emotional problems. This holistic approach can be used in conjunction with other therapies like aromatherapy, massage, homeopathy and shiatsu. Reflexologists believed that any condition of the body that interrupts the flow of energy affects the healthy functioning. As such, foot reflexology for back health works by applying pressure to the zones in the feet. This stimulates the healing effects which can be felt throughout the body.
Foot Reflexology And Back Pain
In fact, reflexology is ideal for treating back problems. Generally, reflexologist and massage therapists treat more patients with back conditions than any type of health problems. Some of the conditions such as sciatica, stiffness and disability, whiplash injury, arthritis, lumbago, osteoporosis and sports-related injuries have positive response towards reflexology.
In general, disabling back pain strikes 80% of us at some time in lives and it is second to head pain that causes million of work days lost, bringing a steady stream of back pain sufferers to doctors and hospitals. In fact, the taller you are, the more likely you are to suffer from back problems since the spine has more to support.
On the other hand, a person with a shorter and fatter body has less association with back pain since there is less strain placed on the spine. Besides, more body fat means higher oestrogen level which helps to retain the mobility of our joints as well as a good level of calcium in bone.
Types And Causes Of Back Pain
- Physical Strains And Stresses
The function of muscles is to move the bones to which they are attached. They also work to hold one part of the body firm while another is moving. For example, the back muscles keep your body steady while you move your arms and legs. The places where 2 bones joint are called joints and the bones themselves are connected by ligaments. Ligaments can tear and causes pain if they are under excess strain.
Trauma or overuse can damage tendons and the muscles which is one of the common causes for back pain. Damages to tendons are difficult to heal as there is less blood supply surrounding a tendon than a muscle. If you ‘pull’ a muscle, it is likely that some of the muscle fibers have been torn. Otherwise, lifting something heavy in an awkward manner or inappropriate posture is another cause of back pain.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
It is an autoimmune disease and is one of the most common of all crippling long-term conditions. Usually, it affects the smaller joints particularly those of the hands, wrists and feet. However, it can also affect the joints of the spine, with pain and disability starting in the neck which radiates down the spine.
This is a degenerative joint disease which mainly affects the elderly and studies have shown that 80% of people over the age of 50 years old have some degree of osteoarthritis. Under the age of 45 years old, osteoarthritis is more common in men. After the age of 45, it is 10 times more common in women than men.
Usually, weight-bearing joints are affected, particularly the hips, knees and the spine. However, the hands and feet can be affected as the disease progress. It is either due to overweight that places strain on the joints or wear and tear of the joints due to repetitive motions or usage.
- Sciatica Pain
Sciatica is one of the most severe forms of back pain and this is normally due to wear and tear of the discs in the lumbar spine. It affects the hip, buttock, leg and back of the thigh. At times, the pain can even radiate down to the ankle. As the sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, it is very difficult to calm down once it becomes inflamed.
- Lack Of Exercise
Regular exercising is essential to keep the bones and joints in a healthy condition. Try to walk briskly for at least 20 minutes daily and do some stretching or toning exercises 3 times a week to prevent low back pain.
If you suffered from anorexia as a teenager, you will experience bone loss. Besides, having a low-calorie diet for a long period of time can have the same effect. This decrease in bone density will lead to back pain in later life stages.
Some young women dancers and athletes train to such an extent that their menstrual periods stop for a time. These women are particularly susceptible to fractures and back pain in later in life because their normal estrogen or progesterone balance has been seriously disrupted.
- Gynaecological Problems
Back pain can be confused with gynaecological problems. Women who have had several pregnancies may have a prolapsed of the vaginal wall which can cause back pain in later life.
Foot Reflexology Treatment At Home
Besides going for foot reflexology for back health sessions offered by spa or health centers, you can also opt for self-treatment in the comfort of your home once you have master the techniques. Though it may seems confusing in the initial stage, there is a standard order of reflex points to press on. Alternatively, you can also target those particular reflex points related to the condition you are having.
You and your friend, partner or family member can rotate the turns in giving and receiving treatment. Ideally, the room or place where the treatment takes place should be warm and pleasant. The receiver party who are getting the treatment should sit in a comfortable chair with his or her legs up, with the feet supported on a cushion on the giver’s laps.
Use a little moisturizer to soften the feet first before starting to press on the foot reflexes. Avoid using too much as the feet will become too slippery. Besides, you should never use oils since it make the reflexes of the feet hard to contact and press on.
Basic Techniques Of Foot Reflexology
- For this technique, you move your thumb or finger forwards in a creeping movement, rather like the way a caterpillar moves. Keep your thumb flexed and work with the flat pad. Press down slightly on the outer edge so that your nail does not dig in.
- Move your thumb across the foot with a tiny action that is slow and methodical.
- As you move your thumb, imagine that you are working across a pincushion full of pins. Each time you lift your thumb, creep it forwards and press down as if you were pushing one of the pins into the pincushion. Keep your movements as small as possible.
- The creeping movement is always forward and not backwards.
- For this technique, place the flat part of your thumb on the reflex point you want to work. With a small but firm movement, rotate your thumb inwards, towards the spine. Keep up the pressure for several seconds for the greatest benefit.
- Spinal Friction
- This special technique helps to stimulate and warm the spinal column. Place the palm of your hand on the inside edge of the foot and rub it up and down vigorously.
- When working on the right foot, place the left hand on the ankle with your thumb up on the outside. Using your right hand, turn the foot inwards. Switch hands for the left foot.
- When working on the right foot, support the heel of the foot in the palm of the left hand. Using the right hand, turn the foot inwards. Switch hands for the left foot.
- Hooking Out
- This technique is used for extra stimulation of the ileocecal valve (the join of the large and small intestines), which is located on the lateral edge of the foot, near the pelvic line. Using your left thumb, press down firmly on this point. With the flat of your thumb, make an outwards-hooking movement in the shape of the letter ‘J’. Hooking out is also used for working the eye and ear reflexes.
Foot Reflexology For Treating The Upper Back
Below the vertebrae of the neck are the 12 thoracic vertebrae, extending from the collarbone to just above the waist. The thoracic vertebrae are attached to the ribs and are larger than the neck vertebrae. In addition, each one of them is slightly bigger than the one above it.
Main function of the thoracic vertebrae is to support the ribcage and because they are anchored by the ribs, they are less prone to wear and tear than the cervical vertebrae. Therefore, there tends to be lesser problems in this area than in the neck and lower back.
The natural curve of the foot echoes the curve of the thoracic spine. For problems with the thoracic spine such as scoliosis, kyphosis as well as lordosis, work on theses reflex points.
Upper Back Pain
To treat discomfort in the upper back, support the right foot with the left hand and creep up the inside edge of the foot with the right thumb (1) and down again with the left thumb (2). Switch hands to treat the left foot.
To relax the ribcage and ease pain, press the sole of the right foot with your thumbs (1). Using the creeping technique, work across the top of the foot with the fingers of both hands (2). Repeat on the left foot.
Foot Reflexology For Treating The Lower Back
The lower spine is made up of the 5 lumbar vertebrae. In fact, these are the largest of all the vertebrae and they bear most of the body’s weight. Below these are the 5 fused bones of the sacrum which acts as an anchor to the base of the spine. At the bottom of the sacrum is the tail bone or coccyx. This is all that is left of the tail we would have had when we walked on all fours.
The lower spine area causes more pain and problems, and is the reason for more days off work, than any other part of the back. Lumbago, sciatica and prolapsed discs are all related to problems in the lumbar spine.
To treat coccyx problems, hold the right foot at the top with your right hand. Using the four fingers of your left hand, creep up the inside of the heel (1 and 2). Switch hands to treat the left foot.
Hip And Pelvis
To treat the hip and pelvic problems such as an arthritis hip, hold the right foot with your left hand and work the outside of the heel with your right hand (1 and 2). Switch hands to treat the left foot.
Hip And Back Of Pelvis
Support the heel of the right foot in the palm of the left hand. With the right thumb, work across the base of the heel to contact the sciatic nerve and buttock area (1). Change hands and work back across the heel (2). Work the left foot, starting by holding the foot in the right hand and working across with the left thumb.
The secondary sciatic point lies across the heel, about halfway between the bottom of the foot and the pelvic line. Using your thumb, creep along this line from the medial side of the right foot to the lateral side. Repeat 2 or 3 times. Repeat on the left foot.
Spinal Stimulation Point
This reflex point energizes the entire spine. It can be found in the middle of the medial side of the foot. Using your thumb make 5 or 6 firm rotations at this point on the right foot. Repeat on the left foot.
Since foot reflexology for back health is a holistic therapy, it is important to start by giving a full reflexology treatment for the entire body first. After the full treatment that lasts around 45 minutes, continue by working on the particular areas affected when treating for any kind of back pain.
It is important to note that both feet must be treated regardless of which side of the body is suffering from pain and disability. Always start with the right foot and complete the whole sequence before treating the left foot. As a general rule, work on each reflex area twice. If any of the reflex points are particularly sensitive, work over them again.