It's important to learn to "read" the feet because there are several physical conditions that need special attention. The signs we observe are the body’s way of telling us something is out of balance. Just like pain, any disorder is a warning signal.
Reflexology is not a tool for diagnosis, but with some observation skills, you can discover whether the body is struggling and if it is in need of some help. The signs we observe are the body’s way of telling us something is out of balance. Just like pain, any disorder is a warning signal.
Reflexology, because it is a holistic treatment, gives the body the necessary impetus to make positive changes for itself. However much reflexology can alleviate discomfort, it should never be used as a substitute for medical attention. As the saying goes: if you see something, say something. Make sure the person you are treating is aware that a more serious condition might exist.
The color of the feet is a good place to start your observation. Are the feet pale all over? Are they cold to the touch? If the answer is yes, the person’s circulation is not as good as it could or should be. Is there paleness in just parts of the feet? If a part of a foot is pale, see which reflex it represents, as this will show what is making the client unwell.
Red patches on the feet can reveal problems with the parts of the body that correspond to the relevant reflex zones.
Hard skin found on different parts of the feet relates to the corresponding part of the body. About twenty-five years ago I gave up smoking, at a time before I really knew much about reflexology. In those days I had a lot of hard skin on the balls of my feet that often caused me discomfort, but I just assumed it was from wearing high heels.
Some years later I started to learn about reflexology, and it suddenly occurred to me that all the hard skin that had built up was gone! This hard skin buildup had been under the ball of my foot, which relates to the lung reflex area. Now that my health has improved, I still wear high heels, but I no longer have the hard skin problem.
Crooked or Bent Toes
The area of the toes around the joints is associated with parts of the body that include the eyes, ears, sinuses, and neck, so crooked or bent toes can indicate a problem in one or more of these areas. Crooked toes can also indicate a nervous type of person or someone who is under a lot of stress.
Toes that point up can reveal a person who is energetic and who has a large appetite. That grand appetite might be for food or it could be for life in general.
It's important to learn to "read" the feet because there are several physical conditions that need special attention. Chief among these is gout. Gout affects mostly the big toes, but it can occasionally affect the ankles and knees. It is extremely painful; the big toe swells up, becomes very inflamed, turns red, and throbs. The condition affects men more than women and is the consequence of a buildup of uric acid in the blood. This is most often due to the body’s inability to metabolize nitrogen-containing compounds properly. These nitrogens are known as purines, and they are found in abundance in a typical Western diet.
Reflexology is effective in treating this condition, as the treatment encourages the organs of elimination and detoxification to work more efficiently. Treatment may have to wait until the toe is less painful and inflamed, however, and dietary changes should be made. If left untreated, gout can cause joint deformities. If it isn’t wise to treat the feet, you can give reflexology to the hands instead.
Diabetics need to take their condition seriously and control their blood sugar levels, be it naturally or pharmaceutically. If the person to whom you are giving reflexology has diabetes, you need to be extra careful to avoid scratching him or her, as diabetes makes people very susceptible to infections and their wounds heal very slowly.
Their feet can be extra-sensitive or not sensitive enough for the patient to know when they are being damaged. More often than not they are not sensitive enough due to nerve damage. In very extreme cases, gangrene can set in, but this is not common. If in doubt, treat a diabetic’s hands, because they tend to have better circulation and more feeling in them.
Cold Pale Feet?
Lack of circulation is a common condition, and sufferers have cold, pale feet. The circulation struggles to get enough blood—and hence enough oxygen and nutrients—to the extremities. This problem can also affect the brain, as that, too, needs a healthy blood supply.
Reflexology will enhance the whole circulatory system, ensuring a better supply of oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. Better circulation means that more oxygen and nutrients reach the heart muscle, which in turn improves blood flow around the body.
Spider veins are a common condition as we age; this condition is most often seen around the insides of the feet under the anklebones. When doing reflexology, be careful around these areas and use very gentle pressure, as the veins can break.
Chilblains are an inflammation of the small blood vessels in the skin in response to cold weather. This condition results in red, swollen skin usually on the toes and fingers, but sometimes on the ears and face. Chilblains appear several hours after the areas have been exposed to the cold and result in an itching and burning sensation. In some cases chilblains can develop into blisters and even open sores.
Never perform reflexology on any broken, sore, or blistered skin.
When temperatures drop, the affected areas should be kept warm, but if the areas get cold, it is very important to rewarm them very slowly. Never put hands affected with chilblains on radiators or into hot water. When the chilblains are in remission, regular reflexology treatments should be given because they will improve the condition by improving the body’s circulation in general.
Edema is a condition in which the sufferer has an accumulation of fluid in the tissue, often in the ankles and feet. It is obvious to the naked eye that these areas are very swollen; they can sometimes be painful to the touch. Shoes can be painful to wear.
Foot reflexology can be painful in these cases as well, so treat the hands, and later when the condition improves, start treating the feet.
Make sure the person is not dehydrated. Many people drink very little, and this becomes very evident with people with edema, because they think that if they drink water their condition will be made worse. This is not the case, and more often than not, drinking water helps the condition. Coffee and soft drinks are dehydrating and should be avoided.
Check with the person with edema to determine whether he or she has seen a doctor about the problem, as edema can denote a heart condition.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that appears between the toes, and it seems to affect men more than women. It is a systemic problem that needs to be treated with herbal remedies and a change in diet. For this condition it is advisable to do reflexology on the hands. The therapy will help to strengthen the immune system, which in turn helps the body to fight this condition.
Fungus under the toenail or between the toes is a systemic problem (this means that the problem is in the whole body, not just the toes—it’s in the system in general). Tea tree essential oil can do wonders on a superficial level, but the underlying cause needs to be addressed.
It is possible this person has had too many antibiotics, creating a systemic imbalance, in which case he or she needs to take an intensive course of probiotics, which can be found in any good health store. Alternatively, this person may eat too many sugary or refined foods, encouraging the wrong bowel flora, therefore allowing a fungal infection to take over. The person’s immune system may have become run down, allowing this opportunistic fungal infection to take hold.
Reflexology, along with a reduction of sugar and refined foods and a supplement of probiotics, will strengthen the immune system and change the bowel flora.
There are several possible reasons for dry skin:
- Dehydration is a widespread problem these days. Too many people drink dehydrating fluids such as coffee, soft drinks, and so on. Most people do not drink enough water or hydrating fluids.
- Deficiencies of essential fatty acids are also a common problem these days, as most people eat the wrong sorts of fats or have become “fat phobic” and don’t eat enough fat. Essential fatty acids come from oily fish, raw nuts and seeds, and supplements such as evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil capsules.
- A digestive problem may be present; it may be that food is not being broken down properly or nutrients are not being absorbed properly.
Nails can also reveal much about general health:
- Vertical ridges show that the liver is being overworked.
- Concave nails denote anemia or low blood pressure.
- Nails that rise from the finger suggest lung problems.
- Grooves can show poor nutrient absorption or arthritis.
- Bumps and ridges denote imbalance in the intestines, heart trouble, or severe stress.
- Dark red to purple color shows too much fat and sugar in the blood.
- Pale nails show anemia, while a blue color suggests heart problems.
- Split, cracking nails show poor nutrition.
Copyright 2018 by Sonia Jones.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hampton Roads Publishing Co.
Dist by Red Wheel Weiser, redwheelweiser.com
Reflexology Plain and Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need
by Sonia Jones.
Reflexology is an ancient healing system that helps relieve existing health conditions and detect future ailments. Reflexology Plain & Simple introduces the history and basics of this form, from beginner’s techniques to more specialized treatments and the use of aromatic oils. Discover which areas of the feet and hands correspond to the body’s tissues, glands, and organs; how much pressure to apply and when not to proceed at all; and how to get started indulging friends, family, and even yourself or move on to your own practice. Detailed instructions guide you through each step of the process and helpful hints throughout provide additional insight.
About the Author
Sonia Jones, ND trained as a nutritional therapist and reflexologist in the UK and as a naturopath in Australia. Sonia is the owner of the Haven―a health spa, fitness center, and hotel in Panama―and works with a team of practitioners with vast experience in treating and helping guests from all over the world regain their health. Sonia is the author of three books and an entrepreneur of her own brand of totally natural and organic skin care products. Visit her website at http://www.healisticnutrition.com/