Love your feet
Do you know how important your feet are? In recognition of National Feet Week 7-13th March 2022 we asked regular MyTimer and Reflexologist, Sophie Playford to highlight how special these appendages are. There are also goodie bags at the studio for you to collect!
“Feet are the foundation of the body, the base of our support and responsible for keeping us up right. But did you also know they keep our hips, knees and even our shoulders in good alignment? This is probably why MyTime experts tell us to plant our little toes firmly on the mat when we’re in table top position, and have us balancing on the balls of our feet and performing piano chopsticks with our toes! When a well aligned and toned foot engages and neurologically connects to the rest of our body it provides a wealth of important ramifications up the communication highway of the rest of our body. The foot is a dynamic structure made up of 26 bones, more than 100 ligaments, muscles and tendons and around 200,000 nerve endings. It’s those mechanics that allow us to make all the different calibrations on different surfaces so our feet can adapt quickly and keep us safe and strong.
“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art”
— Leonardo Davinci
In addition to the strengthening exercises at MyTime, regular inspection of your feet is a good place to begin with foot care. Noticing any changes in skin condition, corns or bunions and getting them looked at early will serve you well. Excessive hard skin on the feet could be a sign that your feet are trying to protect themselves from damage from poorly fitting shoes, or excessive pressure. Early detection and treatment to prevent further damage is advisable. Reviewing your footwear and checking out your walking style to make sure you’re planting your feet evenly is not a bad idea. A podiatrist will help you out here as they are trained to look at the mechanics of the feet and their movement and can suggest tweaks which could make a huge difference not just to your feet but to your body over a lifetime if corrected in time.
Massaging your feet regularly will help you keep your feet, as well as your body and your mind, in optimal condition and it’s something we can do ourselves, or even better, receive as part of a reflexology treatment. Reflexology is a holistic complementary therapy that dates back thousands of years, and is most commonly applied to the feet. It is a science that deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to all the glands, organs and parts of the body. A trained therapist will use their thumbs and fingers in specific massage movements in targeted areas of your feet accessing these reflex areas, to keep the body’s systems operating at peak efficiency.
As a deeply relaxing and comprehensive massage treatment, reflexology stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which encourages blood flow to all the organs and lowers blood pressure. It wakes up all the nerve endings in the feet and keeps them supple and alive and improves your overall circulation. Your whole body is mapped out on the feet. When a trained reflexologist works, they may be able to pick up on any imbalances. Although not permitted to prescribe or diagnose anything specific, we can enquire into shoulder issues, back issues or digestive disorders for example which may appear to show up during treatment. It’s not unusual for congestion to be cleared in the days following a session. Mood improvement, better sleep and release of tension are also pleasant side effects of this restorative act of well-being. Although there is no scientific proof of this, we do know that the body has more chance of healing when it is relaxed, and client feedback speaks volumes.
A reflexology treatment takes place in a recliner chair and will start with the application of some warm foot softening balm which acts as a barrier to any ticklish sensitivities and allows the therapists hands and fingers to move seamlessly across the skin. It also makes your feet look and feel really soft. A gentle massage to warm up the muscles will follow. It involves some lovely loosening techniques such as a pivot point, side to side relaxation, gentle metatarsal kneading, ankle stretch and loosening and toe rotations to name but a few. Then the therapist will use specific thumb and finger movements on the reflex points all over the feet, one at a time. A treatment will typically last about 45 minutes to an hour. If you’ve drifted off into a pleasant slumber during your treatment, you’ll be awoken gently and encouraged to do some deep breathing before having a drink of water to aid the detoxification process that has begun.
So if you’ve been neglecting your feet lately and are inspired to give them some respect and TLC, grab yourself a goodie bag from the studio which will have a foot balm in it. Then use it with the little massage routine below.
- Start by warming up the balm in your hands before gently applying it to clean feet
- Use your finger tips like a snow plough to rake backwards from your toes to the ankles on the top of your feet 2 or three times. This is like having a gentle back rub
- Gently circle your finger tip 2-3 times in the soft skin between the base of your toes on the upper side of your foot, especially between your big toe and the second toe – this will wake up your lymphatic system
- Make one of your hands into a loose fist and use it to knead in the soft fleshy part of the underside of your foot between the ball of your foot and the heel. Rotating in a circular motion in different directions – this is close to your diaphragm line, your solar plexus and your stomach and promotes relaxation
- Use your thumb to circle along the inside edge of your foot slowly starting from the big toe to the base of your foot – this is the spine reflex and this action will stimulate all the nerve endings, to get the neural pathways connecting and messaging
- Finish by rotating all of your toes individually, paying particular attention to your big toe, which represents your head reflex. Gently pinch the tip of the toe between your thumb and your finger and make a stirring action
- Repeat on the other foot
- If that all sounds too much, grab a golf ball, tennis ball or Pilates ball and roll it rhythmically around your foot
For the dedicated disciples of wellbeing who feel like going the extra mile, take advantage of the offer code in the goodie bag for a reflexology taster treatment. You can then experience first hand the beauty and the magic of this ancient wellbeing concept, and both your feet and body will thank you for it”.
If you listen to your body when it whispers you won’t have to hear it scream.