There is a lot more to proper foot care than a superb pedicure. While a fab pedi can give us a boost of confidence, the far less sexy topic of foot health is broader, and one that becomes more important as we age. No surprise there — bodily maintenance is all about tuning into your body, staying self aware, and preventing issues from occurring in the first place.
Reflexology has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and prevention is one of the top principles of TCM as well. The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine aptly describes reflexology as the study of how one part of the body relates to another; much like principles in tuina and acupuncture, pressure points in the feet and hands are energetically correlated to other organs and systems in the body.
Unless we are experiencing pain and discomfort, we don’t tend to think much about our feet — beyond a cute pedi or fab shoes, that is. We apply all of our weight to them daily, put them through the ringer of extreme use, call it a day, and start over the next morning. Giving them tender loving care, such as a self reflexology massage, or seeking out pressure points is a rare occurrence for most — and for some, never even comes to mind. We do yoga and pilates, work out and eat right, so what about our poor ol’ dogs?
We think it’s important for everyone, not just the fitness-minded, to flip that script. Giving feet the TLC they deserve can help set up our bodies for better health and alignment overall. To dig in, we had a little chat with Yael Zake Becker of Yamuna, the brand that patented reflexology balls known as the The Foot Wakers, and author of The Foot Fix. She’s a big fan of a feet-first mindset.
The Foot Wakers are a half dome shape with nodules, so to use them properly, we place them flat on the floor and step on them to experience reflexology and massage that wakes up our muscles, tissues, pressure points, and more. And man, does it feel good.
With stimulation of our nerves and ligaments in the feet, we can activate pain relief, nerve stimulation, encourage better circulation, relieve headaches and migraines, reduce stress, improve posture and alignment, and more.
Reflexology is a major part of alignment and posture as well. Because it can be difficult to massage your feet in just the right way with the right amount of pressure, a tool like the Wakers can make it easier, quicker, and more pleasurable — but it should be noted that it’s less specific to pressure points and a more overall stimulation. Still, this has a potent effect on the body.
“All the Yamuna Foot work improves the alignment and posture very quickly. Five minutes on the Foot Wakers and the body is charged and ready to go,” Becker suggests. We love the idea of sipping our morning matcha while stepping on a foot massager to wake us up from our toes to crown chakra. The energy is palpable, and an invigorating burst of reflexive work sets the tone for an alert day.
Reflexology and massage can also help prevent and heal from injury. Because it can help bring blood flow and better circulation to the feet, more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the area, helping it to heal faster. This doesn’t just limit us to foot injuries, and can be especially helpful for back pain, as Becker explains. “Many people tell us that after suffering for years from lower back problems and sciatica, after using the Foot Wakers, their lower backs rapidly improve.”
Because we are such strong supporters of the Traditional Chinese Medicine modality of prevention, we like to consider reflexology work as an important part of a workout warmup, especially one centered in physical therapy and recovery, such as pilates or yoga, utilizing slow, controlled movements.
The Foot Wakers work more globally, and are not centralized like traditional reflexology that targets specific organs, but they can still help reduce fluid retention and tightness throughout the body. Traditional reflexology is more targeted, and thus can have targeted benefits. Think, constipation relief, cramps, anxiety, and more. Plus, if you don’t want to see the end of your stiletto-wearing days any time soon, the moment to start caring for your feet is now.