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A reflexologist is applying pressure with their thumbs on specific reflex point located in the ball of the foot
A color chart showing a human torso and soles of the feet with reflex areas color coded to explain the reflexology map

Reflexology

Reflexology is based on the idea that there is an image of the whole body on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, so that each organ, bone, muscle, and nerve of the body has a reflex area on the foot and hand.  The reflexes are aligned in a ordered way.  On the foot, the toes represent the head and neck.  The ball of the foot relates to the lungs and chest.  The soft arch of the foot connects to the soft belly and all the digestive organs.  The bony heel represents the bony pelvis.  The left foot contains the reflexes of the left side of the body and the right foot relates to the right side of the body.

The feet have a special relationship with the brain because each foot has about 7,000 nerve endings which are constantly analyzing the surface it is walking on and relaying that information to the brain.  If the foot senses an uneven walking surface, it shoots that data to the brain which processes the information and sends back instructions throughout the body regarding which muscles to flex or release and how to shift the body’s weight or raise an arm so that you don’t fall.  This process happens in a micro-second.  So the body already has an established system of receiving information from the feet and quickly relaying that message throughout the rest of the body.

 

Des Moines Reflexology practices the Ingham Method that was developed in America in the 1930′s as a method for drug-free pain control. By pressing on the reflex areas with a gently pulsing “thumbwalking” technique the related body part can be stimulated to ease pain and promote the body’s natural self-healing process.  During a reflexology session, you may notice tender areas of the foot which is one way your body "speaks speaks through your feet".  You may also note sensations such as warmth, tingling, or tension release throughout your body as various organs or muscles are stimulated reflexively. Likewise, the reflexologist can sense differences in the tissue of the foot (heat, color, texture of skin, muscle tone, mobility, etc) which also give the practitioner clues about your body as a whole.

 

What can I expect during a foot reflexology session?
We chat a little bit to identify what goals you have for the session and so I can answer any questions you have about reflexology. You remove your shoes and socks and lay down on the massage table with a warm blanket if you like. I start with some flowing moves to warm your feet up and so I can assess how they move, then I work on each foot, one at a time, using my thumb and fingers to press on specific points all across your feet and ankles. During this work, you may feel that some areas of your feet are more tender than others, but you should never experience pain. Many clients experience deep relaxation and some even begin to dream or enter a meditative state. You may feel a tingling or warm sensation in various parts of your body as I work on the related reflexive point on your foot. You may feel tension in your neck, shoulders, or back releasing. This focused and detailed work on the feet also brings circulation and tension release in the feet. Although my focus is on the reflexology map and the body as a whole, ea
sing pain in the feet can be a wonderful side effect.

 

I have ticklish feet. Will I be able to enjoy reflexology?

Yes. Most ticklish people are set off by light and fast movements across the soles of the feet.  Reflexology uses a slow, steady and deep pressure.  My ticklish clients are not bothered by reflexology at all.

Thai Foot Massage

 

Thai foot massage is said to have developed thousands of years ago by the Buddha's doctor, Jivaka Kumarabhacca.  As Buddha traveled through Asia, his doctor performed this work for him every day.  This series of moves has been passed down from teacher to student for generations and is always performed with the same strokes in the same order.  These moves stimulate the Sen (energy) lines that run through throughout the body.

A Thai foot massage session starts with a warm foot bath with aromatic epsom salts.  Then you transfer to the massage table for a series of flowing massage strokes across the foot, calf, shin and knee with a light massage oil.  The leg is raised to better access the calf for a massage the posterior side of the lower leg and warming essential oils are added at the knee.  A small wooden stick is used for a portion of the session, either by rubbing the stick across the skin of the feet or by using the point to gently target specific points on the sole of the foot.  As I perform it, this work should not be painful.

 

Although you may become drowsy during the session, when you stand up at the end of the appointment your legs and feet will be revitalized with increased circulation, energy flow and release of muscle tension. 

 

How should I prepare for a Thai foot massage?
Wear shorts or loose pants that easily roll above the knee without cutting off circulation.  Alternatively, you may undress and use a sheet for modesty draping.

Thai foot massage is best performed when you are able to lie flat on your back for one hour.  Please let me know if that is not comfortable for you as I can arrange some pillows under the knees or use an incline pillow behind your back, however these bolsters do limit some of the free flow of movements along the whole body.

Thai foot massage is not appropriate to receive during pregnancy.

A reflexologist is using a wooden Thai reflexology stick on the outer edge of client's foot
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