People who practice reflexology believe that stimulating different zones of the foot improve the function of different organs of the body.
In tai chi, we’ve learned to get the circulation going in our feet by kneading so-called pressure points and massaging from sole to calf. Although I am not sure I buy into the ancient Chinese view that massaging different zones on the foot affect particular organs and improve overall health, I certainly think that stimulating the blood flow in feet is a good idea, especially if you have circulation issues.
Recently, I decided to try a local reflexology place and see if my feet felt happy afterward.
I had experienced this treatment only once before, in 2007, when my husband was working in Shanghai and I was visiting. Walking around the French Quarter, I came upon a sandwich board outside a storefront. It said “foot massage.” I thought, “Why not?” I was shown along a dark corridor lined with cubicles, not quite sure what I was getting into. In one cubicle, I sat back and took off my shoes and socks. I remember a window. A young woman who spoke no English got to work, first soaking my tired tourist feet. The massage involved her really pressing hard on the pressure points. We communicated with sign language and friendly smiles, and I think we each found the other rather exotic. My feet liked the experience.
My recent experience was both the same and different. The staff spoke a little more English, but not a lot more. The cubicles were dimly lit and comfortable. A bucket of hot water for the feet started off the relaxation process. Soft music played. At first it sounded Chinese, then morphed into “Danny Boy.” I think I dozed off. The pressure that the young woman applied to my feet was gentler than in Shanghai. Very nice. My husband summed it up with an apt quote: “Be jubilant my feet!”
You can read up on the theory behind reflexology at Wikipedia, here. Far be it from me to question ancient Chinese medicine, but whether or not different parts of your sole improve the functioning of kidneys, liver, digestion, etc., I’m pretty sure that, first, reflexology does no harm.