Publication: The Sun Chronicle
Author: Susan Lahoud
Date: January 14, 2007
Our feet foot a lot of burden, providing balance for our bodies throughout our lives. Yet, it is only in relatively recent times in this country that happy feet have been associated with feeling better and healthier lives.
Reflexology, in which points on the feet are believed to correspond with “zones” and organs in the body, is actually nothing new. It has been traced to an ancient art of healing dating back to ancient Egypt, India and China. It’s been described as acupuncture without the needles. And while there has generally been no clinical proof of its healing powers, there is growing interest in the practice as an alternative approach to reducing stress.
A group at the Rev. Larson Senior Center in Attleboro recently took part in experiencing a session of reflexology given by Nancy Delorey who received her certification in the therapy in the 1990s, along with certification in Kriya and Reiki, other forms of relaxation and mind, spirit and body healing practices.
She worked for a decade as a physical therapist assistant and is currently admissions director at Epoch assisted living facility in Norton.
Delorey explained that the theory behind reflexology is that daily stresses, toxicity and gravity work to throw the body into imbalance which can lead to illness. The premise is that each foot contains numerous nerve endings along with 33 joints through which organs in the body can be stimulated by pressure on those corresponding spots on the feet.
She uses her thumb and walks her fingers across the feet to site those pressure points related to organs “mapped” on the foot.
For example, stomach ailments might be felt through a point near the top inside of the arch, Delorey said. Each toe “corresponds” to sinuses, the head and brain, with different portions of the large toe tied to either the brain, side neck or pituitary, according to reflexology theory.
“Our feet take us from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed,” yet they are largely ignored compared to other parts of the body, she said.
Delorey had the handful of participants experiment first with a tennis ball to get a sense of the sensations and locate sore spots; then a golf ball, which would further pinpoint trouble spots, she said.
Then it was time for the demonstration, with even the recline in the chair getting an “ahh, nice,” from Marie Laliberte of Attleboro. Normally, Delorey explained, there would be soft music and dimmed lights with a foot soak to start. This day, she begins with a massage to “warm up the feet.”
“Relax, you’re all tight,” she told Laliberte, as she gently loosened up her right foot. Laliberte said that she is bothered by spurs.
“You are anxious,” Delorey continues as she begins relaxation techniques. Laliberte replies that she is, in part, “because I came in late and I feel bad about that.”
Delorey talks comfortingly as she explains to the group and Laliberte which pressure points she is zeroing in on. “It feels good,” Laliberte says, her eyes now closed. Delorey tells those gathered that they should drink a lot of water after any such treatment to stay hydrated.
She then rubs in some gel that she says will make the foot feel cool, followed by a lavender-scented one as she concludes Laliberte’s session.
“It’s very relaxing,” Laliberte comments. “I could go to sleep.”
“This foot feels so good,” she says as she returns to her seat.
Phyllis Campbell is next and Delorey picks out a point on her foot, noting perhaps a stomach ailment. Campbell said that indeed she has been trying to shake a bug that had bothered her stomach.
“She’s got it,” Campbell says after Delorey has mentioned the stomach.
“I never had a massage or reflexology before,” Campbell adds.
“I will say everyone I’ve treated here could use some relaxation,” Delorey says before agreeing to requests to do the two women’s other feet. She suggested some methods for relaxation, from massage to aromatherapy and meditation, in addition to reflexology.
Delorey also noted ways for folks to practice relaxation techniques at home, using a pronged rubber ball, similar to those used for dog play, to roll under their feet while seated.
One of the woman commented that with her learned techniques, Delorey must be quite relaxed most of the time. “I have to work on it just like everyone else,” she replied. Currently, she largely practices on family and friends.
Reflexology has gained some recognition in the past decade, being added to spa, resort, cruise and massage therapist offerings.
The theory for reflexology in its initial form was introduced to the West as “zone therapy” in the early 1900s, according to the Web site for the Association of Reflexologists (www.reflexology.org). The zone theory was further developed in the 1930s into what is now known as reflexology. The London-based association itself was formed in 1984 in order to establish standards and to provide qualified practitioners to which the public could be referred to, according to its Web site. It is described as a complementary therapy. There is also the Reflexology Association of America, formed in 1995.
Delorey said should people decide to seek reflexology treatment, they should make sure that the person is certified and that they ask for and understand your medical history.
The treatment is not for everybody, she noted, including those who are in the first trimester of pregnancy, have an ankle or foot sprain, varicose veins or are on certain medications.
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