Summer and bare feet—a perfect combo! Keep your body healthy this summer by walking on bumpy things.
Agility Training for the Foot!
By continually adjusting to irregular surfaces, the foot’s flexibility and muscle tone are consistently improved. As exposure to different surfaces broadens the foot’s experience, resilience, and ability to maintain balance, the foot becomes more capable of providing a sound base for postural stability, and of providing corrective-reaction when stumbling. But that’s not all!
The earth is a giant reflexologist!
Rocks, mounds and uneven ground stimulate the organs and various body parts through the reflexes on the soles—natural reflexology! Gravity, body weight, and surface firmness determine pressure, while varying textures, smoothness or sharpness contribute to sensation and specific reflex stimulation. The principles of reflexology take care of the rest.
Mats and Paths
Reflexology walking paths, commonplace at public gardens in China, Indian, Thailand, and Japan, are promoted by natural medicine experts. Called “stone-stepping” in China, rock paths are used as a means to balance healthy blood pressure and to lower cholesterol, as well as to alleviate chronic pain and treat common diseases.
This practice is so well known for its benefits to overall health that specialized reflexology mats have been developed for indoor use, mimicking the uneven ground of the natural outdoors.
Where’s the Evidence?
Consider a 2005 study by scientists at the Oregon Research Institute (ORI): “walking on a cobblestone mat surface resulted in significant reductions in blood pressure and improvements in balance and physical performance among adults 60 and over."
The Reflexology Research Project (Kunz) states that the Chinese government encourages use of stone-stepping fitness as a form of overall fitness that “has been shown to increase flexibility and response capability, help in the treatment of osteoporosis, relieve back pain and enhance cardiovascular function, according to Chinese magazine and newspaper articles.”
Things to Step On
If you don’t have a reflexology mat, where do you start? Get outside! Walking on large to medium river rocks will stimulate larger reflex areas, such as the pelvis, bowels, liver, lungs and heart, while smaller river rocks increase the chances of hitting smaller reflexes responsible for pain relief, inflammation reduction, and for turning off the fight or flight stress response.
Experiment with textures and shapes. Step on finely crushed driveway rock or rough surfaces, to stimulate all reflexes on the sole, to affect circulation, and to habituate the feet to varying sensations and pressure in preparation for deeper work when necessary. Soft mud or sinking sand wrap the foot in an earth ‘hug’ that acts like a soothing finishing massage.
Keep your eyes open for a small, smooth circular rock to take home with you, to step on strategically where needed, like the knee reflex, or the sciatic reflex—as well as a long stick-like rock to use as a reflex probe. These earth gifts not only help you keep energy flowing through the feet by clearing reflex blockages, but they can be used as tools during self sessions after your walk, when you sit back in front of the tv.
But What about the Reflexes on the Rest of the Foot?
It’s true—you won’t get all the reflexes stimulated by simply accessing the sole, since there are some very important reflexes located along the medial, lateral and dorsal aspects of the foot. In my opinion, NOTHING matches the skillful reflex stimulation of an actual reflexology therapist delivering human contact and pressure variance. But in between sessions, promote overall health, organ function, circulation, and pain relief by letting the earth touch your feet naturally. As an added benefit, your earth-delivered reflexology-sessions are getting you some exercise and fresh air.
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