You walk on them, dance with them, pedal, brake and accelerate with them. The feet seem like two lumps of flesh and bone whose job description within the body corporate is simply transportation. Western medicine sees the foot merely as a machine composed of 26 bones, 56 ligaments and 33 joints.
They spend much of the year hidden away. So it’s hardly surprising that most of us are unaware of how our feet can provide important clues to the state of our health.
Three out of four adults complain of problems ranging from joint pain and infections to incorrect posture. And, according to podiatrists (foot doctors) many such conditions first reveal themselves in the feet.
The secret giveaway to good health is how effortlessly and comfortably you walk. Our feet bind us to the earth. They enable us to stand, but also to walk.
Sure walking is easy. It’s so easy that no one ever has to teach you how to do it. It’s so easy, in fact, that we often pair it with other easy activities—talking, chewing gum—and suggest that if you can’t do both simultaneously, you’re some sort of insensate clod. So you probably think you’ve got this walking thing pretty much nailed. As you stroll around the city, worrying about the economy, or the environment, or your next month’s rent, you might assume that the one thing you don’t need to worry about is the way in which you’re strolling around the city.
Have you ever seen a supermodel barefoot? Chances are, you haven’t, and it’s not because they’re toes are cold. Even on vacation in St. Barts, supermodels are almost always photographed in heels or shape-obscuring sandals.
Supermodels are some of the most beautiful women on the planet. Their faces are impossibly symmetrical. Their limbs are slim, tanned, and flawless. You never see them mussed or un-coiffed. To the regular person, they are almost cartoonish in their smooth perfection. It’s an impossible standard for the rest of us who struggle with blemishes, stretch marks, and self-doubt. Supermodels are like dolls or mannequins—designed for cameras, runways, and celebrity-packed fashion shows. They’re superhuman. But underneath all that glitz and glamor, beneath those frilly gowns, mile-long legs, and flawless spray tans, there’s a dark secret: completely destroyed feet.
During lengthy fashion events like Paris Fashion Week, the same models walk the runways day after day, wearing all manner of sky-high heels, from booties to stilettos, and wedges to peep-toe sandals. What makes their runway walks so damaging isn’t just the shoes, however, it’s the way they have to walk in them. Models aren’t allowed to adjust their gaits to accommodate pain. And while gait adjustment can cause its own problems (knee twists, hip alignment problems, and back pain), not adjusting is problematic too. The sore toes, heels, arches or ankles must simply suffer through the pain. As shoes cut, pinch, crush, or otherwise damage delicate bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the supermodel keeps on walking… and walking… and walking.
This isn’t an industry in which breaks or days off are tolerated. It’s highly competitive: if you don’t perform, you risk losing your job. Even established supermodels face these pressures. Recently Heidi Klum, infamous for her role on Project Runway, shot a television commercial that involved dancing for several hours on broken toes. Rather than lose the spot, she persevered, potentially causing lasting damage in the process.
A source of fascination, adoration, obsession, and intrigue, the virtues of the human foot have been extolled since humankind’s earliest expressions of thought.
Our feet are our foundation. Their health affects our entire body. Often, helping them is the key to overcoming injuries elsewhere.
Throughout history feet have represented mobility, security and grounding. According to Greek legend, the feet symbolized the soul, with any lameness being perceived as weakness of spirit.
Rooted in our fundamental fascination and adoration of the human foot, reflexology is thought to have been known to ancient Egyptians of the 3rd Millennium BCE. Developed into a science during the late 19th century CE, this healing art is now commonly practiced by countless cultures around the world, and is gaining great popularity in the United States today.
Foot reflexology, like much of what is considered to be ‘alternative medicine’ in the West, has gone through various stages of acceptance from the traditional medical community. While once scoffed at as superstition by Western medicine, reflexology is now being looked at in a more favorable light by both the medical community and the public.
The earliest known reference to Reflexology is more than 4000 years old. Illustrations found on the wall of the Physicians Tomb at Saqqara, Egypt dating to around 2,330BC shows the therapeutic benefits of manipulating specific points on the hand and feet.
It was based on the theory of every organ and gland in the body is linked to the reflection on foot. Through pressuring these reflection area or points on the feet, affect body’s internal organs and circulation system to achieve the purpose of physical fitness.
Foot meridians reflection district reflect the internal organs of the body structure, such as, the shape and outline of the skeletons in foot present the shape of the spine.
The reflection therapy has many curative effects, including pain relief, promote the circulation, deep relaxation and balance energy inside. It can really improve and treat the nervous system, circulation, and the lymph system which is linked to the reflections on the feet.
Although, we cannot determine the exact relationship between the ancient art as practiced by the early Egyptians and Reflexology as we know it today. Different forms of working the feet to effect health have been used all over the ancient world.
During the process of mummification in ancient Egypt, the soles of the feet were removed to free the soul to travel beyond the earthly plane. In fact, many of the ancient cultures believed the feet were a key to the higher being, the sole to soul connection.
From Egypt we move along now to China where again ancient writings speak of a therapy where pressure is applied by the fingers to the feet, hands, and ears. Eventually, this therapy evolved to the use of needles along energy lines called meridians.
However, pressure from the thumbs and digits continued to be used as well. Dr. Wang-Wei developed this method in the fourth century B.C.
In India, the feet of Buddha and the feet of Vishnu both have symbols representing life and the flow of energy to live life well.
Shogo Mochizuki, author and educator, tells us that in Japan you can hear the proverb, “The foot is the gate of ten thousand different illnesses.” This proverb illustrates the continued journey of reflexology. Here the ancient art is carried over from China and continued by healers in Japan.
The Bible also mentions feet as a way of healing. To wash the feet of another was a symbol of humility and forgiveness. To remove shoes before entering the temple or holy place is an instruction not only in the Bible but also followed by Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus. Clearly ancient history demonstrates that footwork has been around!
‘The feet are good indicators of what is going on in the rest of the body,’ says state registered podiatrist Christopher Hunt. ‘A slow pulse can signify poor circulation and, for example, rolling ankles – a condition where ankles roll inwards – can show incorrect posture which can lead to severe back pain.’
To the ancient Egyptian physician, the human body was a ‘symphony of vibrations,’ with the internal organs making up an intricate orchestra. Manipulating certain points on the feet, they contended, would cause these organs to be ‘played’ correctly.
By a precise and skillful manipulation of these points, vital functions can be stimulated, toxins eliminated, blood circulation improved and nerves soothed. In short, top to bottom well-being is available through the foot.
The scientific basis for reflexology is rooted in neurological studies conducted in the 19th century. According to the experts, by applying just the right amount of pressure to more than 7,000 reflex points on the feet, the human body can unlock stored energy that can soothe and offer relief to many health conditions.
In 1989 it was discovered that particular zones of the on the bottom of the feet become hypersensitive to pressure when an organ connected by nerves to his area of skin was diseased. With these designated zones as a foundation, the modern science of reflexology was born.
Professor/Dr. Brian A Rothbart, a clinical researcher specializing in chronic pain, calls this the Foot to Brain Connection. Dr. Rothbart is a Recipient of the Stickel Research Award for outstanding research in Podiatric Orthopedics, awarded by the American Podiatric Medical Association. According to Dr. Rothbard, the feet send messages to the brain, and the brain makes adjustments in the body.
These pressure points are located on your toes, arches, heels and balls of your feet, and each have pressure point zones that mirror different parts of your body; from the bladder to the brain, your colon, your ears, your eyes, your heart, your kidneys, your liver and even your neck. By applying just the right amount of pressure to these areas of your feet, you will target the problematic areas that cause many of your everyday afflictions.
Applying specific thumb and finger techniques, the feet are approached as a microcosm of the body, whereby particular points located on the feet connect directly to particular organs or body systems. When pressure is properly applied to points on the feet, the body’s own healing mechanisms are stimulated along the channel between the point of stimulation and the associated organ. In essence, the reflexologist acts as a mediator to activate the patient’s own natural healing mechanisms.
But as in all holistic health modalities, it is understood that ultimately it is the patient, not the practitioner, who is responsible for ones own state of health.
In a recent survey for the American Podiatric Medical Association, 53 percent of respondents reported foot pain so severe that it hampered their daily function.
You might be thinking that the last thing you need is another thing to be concerned about on a daily basis, but foot care is worth the effort.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said “An Army marches on it’s stomach.” Without sufficient nourishment, a soldier cannot replenish the energy he has expended. He gets grumpy, loses focus, and is less likely to fulfill his duties.
But, what rings true for a soldier doesn’t necessary hold for someone in a survival situation. If you remember the Rule of Three you know that food is one of the last things that a newfound survivor must worry about. Air, shelter, and water all come before food in a survival situation. An army may march on it’s stomach, but there are more important body parts for the survivor: your feet.
Our feet are the most overused, disrespected, and misunderstood parts of our bodies.
The adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” is true when it comes to your feet. But as in all holistic health modalities, it is understood that ultimately it is the patient, not the practitioner, who is responsible for ones own state of health.
Take care of your feet and they will take you where you want to go.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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