By Tacy Apostolik
“When our feet hurt, we hurt all over.” - Socrates
Our feet are our foundation. By being in constant connection with our brain, they enable us to stand, walk and balance. Our feet can carry several hundred tons of total weight in a single day. In confined “spaces” known as shoes, we walk up to 5 miles or 9,000 steps on an average day! In order to do this, the foot must maintain a certain level of tension. With repeated patterns of uninterrupted tension, our feet get tired and sore, thus creating stress throughout the entire body. That’s where do-it-yourself reflexology, enhanced with therapeutic-grade essential oils steps in. By the use of specific hand and finger techniques, along with the application of essential oils to the feet, we can begin to interrupt stress patterns and clear any blockages that occur over time from everyday wear and tear.
You are probably wondering about reflexology and what it is. Reflexology is an energy-based healing art that works through the nervous system. There are zones and reflexes on your feet and hands that “mirror” your entire body. Stimulating these reflexes sends messages to the associated body parts. It helps relieve tension, improves circulation, aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells and assists in bringing your body to a natural state of balance. Although there is no substitute for getting a professional reflexology session, there are certainly many self-care techniques you can do to help ease the discomfort of tired, achy feet and aid the body in it’s own healing process. Some self-care techniques done on a regular basis, enhanced with the application of therapeutic-grade essential oils, can bring you one step closer to good health.
You’ve heard the term therapeutic-grade essential oils now it’s time to explore what they are and what they do. Essential oils are aromatic liquids extracted from flowers, trees, roots, bushes, rinds and seeds. Each oil essence has up to hundreds of chemical components that must exist in a unique combination in order to be called therapeutic. These complex oils have been used to support health for thousands of years. Essential oils are so small in molecular size that they quickly penetrate the skin providing numerous health benefits. According to research, the topical application of essential oils can affect every single cell of the body within 20 minutes! Among their many benefits, they are antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and have pain-reducing properties. They deliver oxygen and
nutrients to the cells and stimulate the immune system. The fragrance of essential oils can directly stimulate the limbic lobe and the hypothalamus (in the brain), having a profound effect, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually. Applying essential oils to the feet is a safe and effective way to deliver their healing properties throughout your body. In order to get the greatest benefit from their true healing powers, it is very important that you chose the highest quality therapeutic-grade essential oils. From the different schools of essential oil applications, let’s discuss the topical application of neat (undiluted) therapeutic-grade oils along with their inhalation. When applying the oils, first drop the appropriate amount into the palm of one hand and, using the fingers of the other hand, rub on the desired area. After applying the essential oils, vigorously rub your hands together. Closing your eyes, cup them over your nose, sit for a few minutes and take several long, deep breaths. This gives you the added healing benefits of aromatherapy.
Are you ready to begin self-care reflexology? You can begin by doing an ankle rotation exercise. In a standing position, lift one foot up onto the ball of the foot. From this position, rotate clockwise ten times, then rotate counterclockwise ten times. Switch feet and repeat. This helps to relax the foot by loosening the 4 major muscle groups connecting the foot and leg. The rest of these exercises should be done in a seated position by placing the foot being worked on, on the thigh of the opposite leg.
Many have reported success for sinus and respiratory problems with the following technique. A couple drops each of eucalyptus (eucalyptus radiata) and ravensara (ravensara aromatica) essential oils are applied to the toes of each foot. Eucalyptus (radiata) is a powerful antimicrobial oil used extensively for respiratory infections. Ravensara is antibacterial and antiviral, well known for its support to the nerves and respiratory system. Now, with the left hand on the dorsal (top) surface and the right hand on the plantar (bottom) surface of all 5 toes, rub vigorously back and forth. This helps to send the oils inward. Next, supporting the left foot with the left hand, grab the big toe on either side between the index finger and thumb of the right hand and “crab walk” down to the base of the toe, taking about 5-6 steps. Repeat in 2 rows, then “crab walk” along the inside and outside of the toe in 2 rows. Do the same for each toe. Switch feet. This helps stimulate the reflexes for the head, brain and sinuses. Sitting for a few minutes and breathing in the aroma of these healing oils can be especially beneficial for sinus and respiratory conditions!
For those days when you are experiencing intestinal/stomach discomfort, there are several oils that have been reported to be of help. Of the many essential oils that can be effective in relieving digestive problems, two favorites are peppermint (mentha piperita) and fennel (foeniculum vulgare). Peppermint soothes digestion. It can be both cooling and warming and is well known for it’s pain relieving properties. Fennel aids in digestion and supports pancreatic function. 2-3 drops of each of these oils are applied on the plantar surface of the foot between the ball and the heel. Rub the oils in well. Grasp the foot with the left hand along the dorsal surface of the foot, just below the ankle. With the thumb of the right hand, “walk” up the arch of the foot, vertically, making several successive passes from the right to the left, taking about 12 steps per pass. Be careful if you have long nails! Repeat at least 2 times for each foot. Some of the many reflexes you will be stimulating in this area are the stomach, liver, pancreas, colon and small intestines. Don’t forget to inhale!
One favorite synergistic oil blend for helping relieve PMS symptoms, and headaches caused from hormonal imbalances is, 30 drops clary sage (salvia sclarea), 20 drops fennel (foeniculum vulgare), 20 drops marjoram (origanum majorana), 5 drops jasmine (jasminum officinale) and 8 drops sage (salvia officinalis). Pre-mix and apply 5 drops of this oil blend to the area below each anklebone and then across the front of the foot, between the ankles.
Grasp the left foot with the right hand from behind the ankle. Position the thumb at the midway point between the anklebone and the posterior edge of the heel. Position the index finger in the same place, on the opposite side. Exerting pressure with the thumb and index finger, rotate the foot in a clockwise direction 6 times, then in a counterclockwise direction 6 times. Repeat with varying pressure. Switch feet. This action helps stimulate the ovary and uterus reflexes on women and the testicle, prostate reflexes on men. Once again, sit and inhale.
For overall circulation, it is good to work the entire foot. A couple oils that are known to be very effective for this purpose are lemon (citrus limon) and cypress (cupressus sempervirens). Lemon improves microcirculation and immune function. Cypress is known to increase circulation, strengthen blood capillaries and support the nerves. Apply one of both of these oils to the entire foot, top and bottom. This would not fall under the category of reflexology, however with one hand on the dorsal surface and one hand on the plantar surface, vigorously rub the entire foot.
Finally, have you heard about this special “hands off” tip for busy folks? When sitting around a table or while on the phone, roll a tennis ball under your foot. This is a great way to stretch the plantar fascia, that long tendon that runs along the plantar surface of the foot from the heel to the ball of the foot. It’s also an easy way to stimulate all those reflexes on the planter surface. By doing these simple techniques and applying essential oils on a regular basis, you can begin to feel how your feet directly affect your entire body! Last but not least, try this tip after a long, hard day! Pour hot water into a basin with one cup of Epsom salts and 4 drops of lavender (lavandula angustifolia) oil. Sink your feet into a taste of heaven! AAAAHHH!!! Now THAT makes scents……..from head to toe!
Tacy Apostolik is a Board Certified Reflexologist based in Asheville, NC. She uses therapeutic-grade essential oils in her practice. You can contact her at 828-253-4624, or [email protected]
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to prescribe or diagnose. Before you attempt this or any other health application, consult a licensed medical professional. The author accepts no responsibility for improper and inappropriate use of this material.
This article was posted by Tacy Apostolik