‘This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home’ is a rhyme we hear as children, playfully explaining the significance of each toe. While the elementary explanation may be a little nebulous, the concept that each toe represents something is true from the point of view of reflexology.
Reflexology is a natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflex points in the feet, hands, and ears which directly correspond to every part and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflex points by a skilled practitioner’s hands, along with the use of tools, lotions and aromatherapy, tension and dis-ease can be relieved or eliminated.
Practices resembling reflexology can be traced as far back as 2450 BC to ancient petroglyphs on the walls of an Egyptian tomb. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote about the curative effects of this modality.
In more recent times, Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced this concept of ‘zone therapy’ in 1915. With ‘zone therapy’ the body is divided by vertical lines into five zones on the left side and five zones on the right side of the body. These zones relate to all parts of the body within each zone. The fingers and toes affect corresponding parts of the body and are the primary areas of treatment.
Then there was American physiotherapist, Eunice Ingram, who further developed the concept of ‘zone therapy’ in the 1930's, into what is now known as our modern day reflexology. This foundational idea is taught at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA).
Reflexology is a form of bodywork used specifically for the purpose of tension release and overall relaxation. There is a scientific explanation for how the pressure applied to a related area actually sends signals to other parts of the body to balance the nervous system and release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce pain and stress. One person, who came to the Student Reflexology Clinic, said it best with the statement, “I don’t need to know how it works; I just know it works, so I keep coming back for more!”
Reflexology practitioners believe that by applying pressure to certain reflex areas it can promote health in the corresponding organs through energetic pathways. For example:
- Tips of the toes reflect the head.
- Heart and chest are around the ball of the foot.
- Liver, pancreas, and kidney are in the arch of the foot.
- Low back and intestines are in the heel.
Recently, Dr. Andre Weil, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, appeared on the Dr. Oz television program touting the benefits of the reflexology technique based on the 5,000-year-old theory of Chinese medicine, which is the application of pressure to specific points on your body to activate channels known as “meridians” or energetic pathways. This use of pressure helps to release tension and promote the free-flow of blood and energy. Dr. Weil confirmed his belief that this type of therapy has been used for centuries to provide pain relief, improve circulation, and alleviate muscle tension and he also admits to having regular reflexology treatment himself.
Louise Hay, best known for her 1984 book, You Can Heal Your Life, taught of the transformative power of thought and natural healing methods. She reported how she had refused conventional medical treatment when diagnosed with cervical cancer and began a regime of forgiveness, nutrition, and reflexology to facilitate her healing.
Today, hundreds of practitioners around the world apply the ancient and classical theories of reflexology as a self-contained healing modality, or as a part of a massage therapy session. The massage therapists and bodyworkers being trained at SWIHA are incorporating the cutting edge information on how the body, mind, and emotions interrelate.
Life Coaching and Emotional Reflexology are the more current additions to this time-tested healing art. Trained reflexologists come to understand and literally feel in the feet, where a person is ill, not functioning optimally, or even holding negative energy. They learn to understand the connection between poor health and an individual's emotional well-being and how to read the feet and toes for blocked places that need specific pressure. By combining reflexology with coaching skills, reflexologists are able to help their clients consciously choose to release negative life patterns while they have the physical blockages released through the soles of their feet. Even if it sounds whimsical at first, there is truth in the saying used by many reflexologists – “You can touch a person’s soul by working the soles!”
SWIHA has been credited with creating a whole new career based on reflexology called Toe Reading or Soul Coaching. (For more information on this sub-specialty of reflexology go to www.BeAToeReader.com
So, while everyone loves a good foot rub, there is a precise science and healing art involved in touching and applying pressure to the feet. Reflexologists know that they can truly help this little piggy be healthy and joyful, all the way home.
About the Author, KC miller
KC Miller has been a go-getter for over 40 years and a true pioneer as a Holistic Entrepreneur. As a longtime massage therapist, reflexologist, Reiki Practitioner, Life Coach, Toe Reader and Ordained Minister she knows firsthand that you can create a business out of thin air with purpose and passion. Her original motto was: Let me be an instrument in the peace and healing of others. From her private practice KC grew the awarding-winning nationally accredited private college, Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. The mission statement has changed to reflect with even more passion KC’s commitment to holistic entrepreneurship: “We inspire individuals to discover the gifts and graces and support them in taking their skills into the world in a loving and profitable way.”
By KC Miller, founder of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and author of Toe Reading: Are You Walking Your Destined Path has been a reflexologist for nearly 25 years.