I was intrigued ever since I met Diana Mira, my reflexologist in Mallorca. How did this therapy work? How was she able to home in on the parts of my body that were not functioning as well as possible through massaging my feet? How could these techniques help to soothe typical childhood ailments? Initially, I just thought the whole point of it was for relaxation but I was wrong. The benefits of reflexology extend beyond the mere pleasure of a foot rub!
Reflexology of the feet is unlike any other massage; there is science behind it. The reflex in ‘reflexology’ relates to how areas of the feet reflect our internal organs and other systems of the body. (Note that the hands, iris, ear, tongue and the face also have this reflection quality.) So a problem with digestion, a headache or a tooth ache, can also be detected in specific areas of the foot. When these specific areas of the foot are treated by pressure, the stimulation helps the body to heal itself. Both physical and emotional imbalances can be treated through reflexology.
What is it a reflexologist feels in a foot to know where to treat? (And before you start prodding your own feet – STOP! There are certain areas which are more sensitive and you should avoid stimulating – the heart for a start! It’s best to leave the vital organs to the experts.) A trained reflexologist will be looking for different textures in the skin to indicate imbalance; it may feel like granules of sand, or feel hard or too soft. The colour of the foot may also be an indicator if it appears redder or whiter than it should. Of course these subtleties might not be something you and I would notice, until we start paying more attention to the bottoms of our feet.
Though I am not advocating here for us to begin practicing reflexology on our children at home as if we are reflexologists ourselves, I did ask Diana if there are any techniques an untrained person can use at home on a child. Reflexology can help with stress relief and disease prevention as well as healing stomach, back, head and tooth aches. It also aids sleep, it can provide emotional relief and boost the immune system.
Loosen the foot and release the system
It’s always good to get the blood and energy flowing through the foot first. Start with large movements to the foot, gently moving it forwards and backwards, side to side and by making rotational movements at the ankle.
Expand the diaphragm
A very simple movement that is wonderful for relaxation is to hold the top of the foot at the ball on either side and gently open it out and uncurl it. Slowly butterfly the foot inwards and outwards. This movement stimulates the diaphragm and chest, the respiratory function, nervous system and spine.
Teething is a troublesome time. The ‘teeth’ in the feet are located in-between the toes. With the thumb and forefinger, make anticlockwise movements up and down and in-between the toes.
Relax the spine
Stress, sleep disturbances and emotional tension can be eased by applying pressure to the spine area in the foot. The easiest way to explain how to locate the spine in the foot is this: firstly stand barefoot on the floor. Note the edge of where the plantar region (inner area of the foot) touches the floor. Then place one of your feet on your knees. Now you will be looking at a side view of your inner foot. Place your thumb at the base of the big toe – here is the top of the spine. From here continue tracing along the edge of the plantar region, down to the heel and avoiding following the natural curve of the foot (which is going off track.) This invisible line you have traced is the spine. Interestingly, trained reflexologists can pin point problems in the spine down to the individual vertebra!
With gentle pressure and using the thumb or tips of the fingers, move gently along the spine area from the top to the bottom of the foot. Never make movements upwards – the theory is when moving up, energy from the base of the spine will be directed to the brain which isn’t advised.
Unblock the mind with the big toe
Correlating to the head and neck, it’s no surprise that the big toe is a particularly sensitive area. With thumb and forefinger and using gentle pressure, rotate the toe clockwise and anticlockwise.
Free up the intestines
When stimulating the lower section of the plantar region, you are giving your lower intestine a good boost too. If you come across hard areas within this area of the foot, it may be the sign of constipation. Holding the foot in your hand, use the thumb to make clockwise rotations. Like the intestines move matter downwards, move downwards with your rotations to release and get rid of any blockages.
For balance and general wellness, try reflexology every two to three weeks and see what difference it may make for your child. In acute moments, once a week is good, though avoid practice when a child is ill with fever or sickness. The beauty of reflexology is it can be done anywhere at any time of day – all you need is a little oil to rub onto the foot, making it easy to work with and more comfortable for your little patient! (You may like to read my article on Essential Oils for an added natural healing benefit.)
If you want to find specific weaknesses in your child’s feet, it’s best to see a qualified reflexologist. Here in Palma I can highly recommend Diana Mira Kratz.
Written by Gemma Sherlock
About the author
After many years of moving around, Gemma, her husband and 2 children settled in Mallorca.
Why Nourish the Kids? Words, language and especially writing have always been a focus and priority for Gemma. She likes to express herself thoughtfully and with clarity whether writing or speaking and enjoys discussing and researching new ideas and topics, particularly when it comes to health and well-being.
Likes: Circuit training, pilates, cooking from Ottolenghi books, pukka tea, hummus, reflexology, the audible app, Spanish lessons at MTA and thoughtfulness.