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Books about Reflexology

Here are my favorite books about reflexology.  Any one of these titles would be an excellent

starting point for beginners to learn more about reflexology:

Reflexology: Health at your fingertips by Barbara & Kevin Kunz

Hand Reflexology: simple routines for health and relaxation by Barbara & Kevin Kunz

Healing Yourself with Foot Reflexology by Mildred Carter

Feet First: A guide to foot reflexology by Laura Norman

Reflexology Research Studies

Reflexology Research - this site has gathered 380 medical studies on the efficacy of reflexology.

National Institute of Health - this article from 2022 is a summary of reflexology studies

Books about Wellness in general

Here are my favorite books about wellness, spirituality, or other topics:

Body Cards: Insight from the body, Wisdom for the soul by Courtney Putnam - these are oracle cards, but each card includes a meditation and art project, so it's a wonderful tool for self reflection and sparking creativity.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler - An excellent book for understanding the menstrual cycle, fertility and hormone balancing.  Includes some great charts for tracking your cycle if you're trying to conceive.

Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi - Mudras are hand positions that you can hold to cultivate specific moods or health.  I find mudras to be powerful and fascinating.

Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect by Jonice Webb - A wonderfully clear and direct self-help psychology book for people who had emotionally immature, narcissistic or absent parents.

Stretches and Exercises   Movement is Life

Here are some of my favorite stretches and exercises:

Please keep in mind these should all be gentle and performed without pain.

If any of these movements are painful for you, please stop and seek advice from a medical doctor.

For building foot and arch strength:

  • "The ABCS" Imagine your foot is a big paintbrush, and a wall is in front of you. Slowly paint each letter of the alphabet from A to Z on the wall. Make sure you're using the whole foot: the ankle, mid foot, and toes. Here's a video.

  • Towel Scrunch These are three great exercises for building the muscles that pull up the arch. Here's a video.

  • The Short Foot  Another great exercise for build up the muscles of the arch.  Here's a video.

For stretching the tops of the feet, especially if your toes extend up towards your head when relaxed or you have limited range of motion to point your foot to the ground (ankle plantarflexion):

  • Seated Variation - Work at your level of comfort, should be a gentle stretch. Here's a video.

  • Standing Variation Again, this should be a gentle stretch. Experiment with bringing the back leg closer or farther from the standing leg to increase or decrease the stretch.  Here's a video.

  • Variation using a tennis ball In this version you curl your arch and toes over a tennis ball and use the opposite foot to massage and deepen the stretch.  Here's a video.

For big toe straightening

  • Self massage to prepare for more first toe range of motion. Here's a video.

  • Mobilizing the first toe joints  This is a series of movements to increase the range of motion in the first toe. Here's a video.

  • Stepping motion This exercise builds the muscles of foot arch with the toe in correct position.    Here's a video.

General for feet:

10 minute yoga routine for foot and toe stretching. Here's the video.

In the acute stage of Plantar Fasciitis, you might find the support of Kinesiology tape to be helpful.  It's tape with a bit of elastic stretch so it can help give a little stability or lift to your feet.  Tape can be worn for 2-3 days.

Here's the tape for sale on

Here's a video showing how to apply the tape.

For stretching the calves:

There are two main muscles of the calf, which merge to make the Achilles tendon, which can pull the heel backwards and put strain across the sole of the foot.  One muscle can only be stretched with the knee straight, and the other with the knee bent, so you need to do both movements.  Here's a video.

For shoulders and back:

These are my favorite moves for combatting the slumping posture of working on a computer all day. If your upper back is aching it's likely because your shoulders round forward, and the muscles between your shoulder blades are overstretched and overworked by trying to hold on for dear life.  

  • Strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades (Rhomboids).  Here's a video.

How to Test Your Shoes & My favorite shoe companies

How to test if your shoe is the right shape for your foot:

1. Get two pieces of paper, a pen, scissors and a friend to help you.

2. Barefoot, stand on top of the paper, one foot on each sheet.  Stand up straight.  Have your friend trace the outline of your foot. 

3. Cut out the shape of your foot and try to put it into your shoe.  If the paper can lie flat inside, then your shoes fit.  If the paper needs to bend or fold inside the shoe, then the shoe is too small.  You will often find that the sides or tops of the toes fold. Western shoes tend to be too narrow for most feet.   Make sure to do this with both the right and left shoes, as it is common for our feet to be slightly different size or shape. Avoid shoes with pointed toe boxes or raised heels as this is not a natural foot shape.

Benefits of minimalist or barefoot shoes - YouTube Video

How to transition to minimalist shoes - YouTube Video

Different shoe lacing patterns to adjust for your foot shape

My favorite minimal shoe companies:

Lems Shoes

Softstar Shoes

Astral Designs

Des Moines Area Shoe Stores:

The Fitting Place - 1440 22nd St, West Des Moines, IA 50266 by appointment: 515-225-3043 They specialize in shoe sizing, and solutions for diabetic clients. They promote orthotic shoe inserts (which I view like a crutch; good for getting through an injury, not for a lifetime. Build natural musculature of the foot so you don't need support long term). 

REI Co-op - 5901 Mills Civic Pkwy #4100, West Des Moines, IA 50266 - carries some minimalist shoes if you would like to try them out.

Meditation Tools

I cannot emphasize enough how much meditation has helped my improve emotional state, concentration and patience.  I recommend it for everyone.  Learning to sit still without distractions, watching your thoughts without getting carried away by them, breathing, being aware of your body are all really beneficial skills to have.

First and foremost, I recommend the app Headspace.   There is a free ten part course simply called "Basics".  Each session is 3-10 minutes long, features a little video lesson and guided meditation.  There are five teachers to choose from; Andy is my favorite.  I have taken this course over and over again.  It's a fantastic place for beginners or a great refreshers course for experienced meditators. 

Next I recommend the podcast "The Way Out Is In" which is a conversation between a Buddhist monk at Plum Village (a student of Thich Nhat Hanh) and a lay person.  Each week they discuss a different aspect of life, and always finish each podcast with a short, guided meditation which relates to the topic they just discussed.  This is the kindest and gentlest podcast I've ever listened to, and I want to share it with everyone I know.

I love Qigong, and here's a great example on YouTube video.  It's a moving meditation that connects breath with movement and is easy enough that people of all physical fitness levels can do it.

A simple and effective technique for grounding and soothing anxiety is the Butterfly Hug tapping technique.

If you're looking for minimalist background music for meditation, reading, or studying, I like the app Endel.  This is a subscription app ($6 month) which plays music based on your mood, your activity, the weather, or the time of day.  But it's one long stream of uniquely created music so it never repeats, you won't get tired of it.  Backed by neuroscience to promote longer periods of focus.

Looking for recommendations on a topic which is not listed above?  Email me, and I'll give a recommendation and update this list for the benefit of others.  Thank you.

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