Reflexology and the Kidneys

November 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

There’s been a lot of buzz around reflexology these past few weeks. In part thanks to a recent segment on the Regis and Kelly TV morning show.

kidney_regisIt seems that Regis, a great proponent of reflexology, recently experienced a pain that was reminiscent of years ago when he had kidney stones.

As Regis tells the story, he was awaiting surgery to remove the stones, when a reflexologist came to the hospital to work on his feet.

The session was an hour and a half, and nothing (other than pain relief and comfort) happened during or immediately after. But, later that night, he actually passed the stones and his surgery for the next day was cancelled.

As the story goes, he was very happy and very impressed with reflexology, believing it’s what actually helped.

A few weeks ago on his TV show “Regis & Kelly”, he revisited reflexology and once again felt that his recent reflexology session was instrumental in relieving a considerable amount of his current discomfort.

I’ve included the link to the TV segment below, but first you might want to know more about why the kidneys play such an important function in our health and wellbeing.

Kidneys

These dark-red and bean-shaped organs are at the posterior aspect of the torso and sit close to the waste-line. One side of the kidney has an outward bulge (convex) and the other side is indented (concave). At the indented side of the kidney (the renal pelvis), there’s a cavity where the ureter is attached.

The ureters are long thin tubes (from 10 – 12 inches long) that connect the kidneys to the bladder. The waste from the kidneys (urine) is moved from the kidney to the bladder via peristaltic contractions. The bladder, which is located behind the symphysis pubis, is the reservoir where urine is stored before it leaves the body via the urethra.

Known altogether as the “renal” or urinary system, this system affects all parts of the body by keeping the fluids in balance, removing wastes, regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, and stimulating the production of red blood cells.

Function of kidneys

Removal of waste: This is the main function of the kidneys – the removal of waste products and excess water from the blood. Even though the kidneys process about 55 gallons of blood (filtering all your blood approximately 19 times per day), they only eliminate about two quarts of urine daily.

Hormones: In addition to the above, the kidneys also release three important hormones:

1. erythropoietin, or EPO – which stimulates the bone marrow to create red blood cells

2. Another hormone produced called rennin – it regulates blood pressure

3. And, calcitriol – the active form of vitamin D, which helps to maintain normal chemical balance in the body and calcium for bones.

Regulation of salts: A function that is critical to the regulation of the body’s salt, potassium, and acid content is performed by the kidneys. This happens when the kidneys produce the hormones and vitamins that affect the function of other organs. As mentioned above, one hormone produced by the kidneys stimulates the production of red blood cells. In addition, another hormone produced by the kidneys help to regulate your blood pressure, while others help control calcium metabolism.

Urine formation: There are a series of highly complex steps the kidneys use in the processes of producing urine for excretion.  Other elements are also processed for re-absorption into the body. Both are important processes and necessary to maintaining the body chemicals in stable balance.

Kidney Diseases

Kidney Stones: When urine chemicals crystallize they gather to form a kidney stone. Even though they begin small (smaller than a grain of sand), they can gradually grow larger (a quarter inch in diameter or larger). But, the size of the stone doesn’t matter as much as where it is located.

Some of the symptoms of kidney stones include: intense pain, sweating, nausea and vomiting  (all of which are fairly common with stones).

Emergency treatment for kidney stones includes an intravenous line that’s used for hydration and for the administration of medication, which may include an anti-inflammatory drug, and narcotics for pain control.

Nephrotic Syndrome: This can be a further complication and is a kidney disease where there’s abnormal leakage of protein. Symptoms are low levels of proteins in the blood and swelling in other parts of the body. Treatment of nephrosis includes control of the disease by finding and treating any underlying medical conditions that may have caused it. Commonly drugs, including a diuretic to reduce swelling and antibiotics to treat infection, are used along with medications to reduce the output of protein.

Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) Glomerulosclerosis: Sometimes scar tissue will form in the tiny blood vessels (called the glomeruli) inside the kidneys. The glomeruli are comprised of miles of vessels that filter urine from the blood. Dialysis, kidney transplantation, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are nonspecific agents that reduce proteinuria. One of the approaches to relieve this is through modifications that are made to the diet.

Home Remedies

  • If, it’s been said it once, it’s been said a hundred times – drink plenty of H2O. Being well hydrated and keeping the urine diluted will help prevent kidney stones from forming
  • Additionally, drinking about three to four quarts of water daily is thought by many to be the best cure for treating kidney infection as well other internal infections.
  • And, don’t forget your Vitamin C it’s also said to be good in treating kidney infections. Food sources such as salmon, almonds, oranges and dairy products are rich in Vitamin C.

How Can Reflexology Help?

In oriental medicine, the Kidney Meridian and specifically the first Kidney Meridian point (K1) is thought of as the “Source of Chi”.

kidney_feetAnd, the Kidney Meridian is located very close to our own reflexology Kidney Reflex!

The location of the kidney reflexes are on both the left and right feet and begin at the level of the “waist-line” or close to the base of the 2nd metatarsals.

Just like in the body, the kidney reflexes are found lateral to the spine. (Note: the right kidney sits under the liver and is slightly lower that the left).

Because of its multiple functions for the body, it’s always a good idea to give some extra attention to this important organ reflex when giving a reflexology session (don’t forget that this includes self-help too).

I always detail the kidney reflex if it has the feeling of a “change in tissue texture” on the foot. This is a detail that calls for thumb-walking to occur in more than one direction. If I do the first passes on the vertical, I’ll do a second round on the horizontal or diagonal directions as well.

And, don’t forget about all of the urinary system reflexes. It’s a small system and easy to detail in its entirety.

If you go to this video clip – you can hear Regis Philbin tell how reflexology helped him, and his kidneys… in his own words.

Regis tells his Reflexology Story –

1. Go to: http://bventertainment.go.com/tv/buenavista/regisandkelly/host_chat.html?bcpid=959373459&bclid=28549562001&bctid=45928380001

2. On the Right Side MENU Bar click onto: OCTOBER 22, 2009

3. Once the video starts to play, move the fast forward bar at the bottom of the video to approximately 4 minutes into the play time.

4. Enjoy Regis’ reflexology story.

Now, as a practitioner, how about adding this detail into every one your reflexology sessions? Even better, be the client and get a reflexology session yourself. Ask your practitioner to detail the urinary system reflexes and feel for yourself how powerful the energy balancing is.

Spend some quality reflex time with the “Sole Source of Chi” – the kidney reflexes. You’ll be support your client’s health and don’t be surprised if they have to excuse themselves to go to the bathroom either during or right after the session. I think of that as reflexology at work.

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills and explore how beautifully reflexology supports us body and soul.

Here’s to your good reflexology health!

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE?

You can as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Online health and reflexology expert Wendy I. Coad, the “Reflexology Professor” publishes the popular “Reflexology Secrets, Tips and Techniques” monthly email newsletter to subscribers from around the world. If you’re ready to enjoy health, express creativity, gain knowledge and skyrocket you reflexology or holistic health career, get your FREE tips now at http://www.reflexologyprof.com and join us at the top right corner.

Flat Feet

October 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Tips

Flat feet are a condition where the arch of the foot appears flattened. This causes the foot to roll inwards as it contacts with the floor in support of the weight of the body, and is the main clinical feature of excessive pronation. A flat foot is a condition in which the foot doesn’t have a normal arch. It may affect one foot or both feet.

Most people have a gap between in the inner side of the foot and the ground when they are standing. This is referred to as an “arch”. Feet that have a low arch or no arch at all are referred to as flat feet or fallen arches (pes planus) and the foot may roll over to the inner aspect.

Types of Flat feet:

  • Congenital flat foot is a condition that one is born with.
  • Acquired flat foot, develops over time, rather than at birth and is likely to cause pain and other symptoms – sometimes including the development of arthritis in the feet.

Causes of Flat Feet

  • It may be hereditary, i.e passed on through generations.
  • In most cases it is caused through a biomechanical complaint (abnormal walking) such as Fore Foot Varus. This is a condition in which the subtaler joint in the foot over pronates (rolls in too much).
  • A ruptured tendon (tibilias posterior) can lead to a flat foot.
  • Cerebral palsy, spins bifida and muscular dystrophy can also lead to a flat foot condition.
  • Trauma or injury from sports and even improper footwear can influence the foot towards pronation and eventual flattening.

Signs and symptoms

  • Your feet tire easily or become painful with prolonged standing.
  • It’s difficult to move your heel or midfoot around, or to stand on your toes.
  • Your foot aches, particularly in the heel or arch area, with swelling along the inner side.
  • Pain in your feet reduces your ability to participate in sports.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis; about half of all people with rheumatoid arthritis will develop a progressive flatfoot deformity.

Prevention

Many would say that there is really no way to prevent flat feet. However, the field of pedorthy and podiatry would probably disagree and recommend that orthotics be used to minimize the  speed at which the feet move further into pronation.

Treatment of Flat feet

  • The most important aspect of treatment is determining the exact type or underlying cause of flat feet that you have, and this can be examined through clinical examination and special imaging studies (e.g., x-rays, CT, and/or MRI).
  • Conservative treatment is used in the vast majority of flat foot cases, and consists of treatments such as orthotics, shoe recommendations, anti-inflammatory measures and special strengthening exercises.
  • Commonly called foot orthotics, these are interchangeable among your shoes and may provide more support because they’re molded to the contours of your feet. Orthotics come in three types: rigid, semi-rigid and soft.
  • Surgery is rarely required, and is reserved only for the most severe types of flat foot that do not respond to conservative therapy

Facts about flexible flat feet

  • Flexible flat feet are a common, usually painless condition that is often normal.
  • Corrective shoes or inserts do not “create” an arch.
  • Flexible flat feet will not interfere with a child’s ability to learn to walk or play sports.
  • Shoe salespersons may tell you expensive shoes will help you walk better. This is not true. Regular, inexpensive shoes may be worn too, if they offer good support.
  • If you have questions about shoes, always check with a professional.

Home remedies for flat feet

Wear good shoes. This is the most important remedy. Make sure that they are comfortable and fit properly.

Can reflexology help?

Since reflexology has a relaxing and beneficial effect to the whole body, and because our techniques are applied to the feet, they are definitely the beneficiaries of the soothing relaxation reflexology offers.

Although the focus of reflexology is the whole body, sore aching feet will appreciate what a great reflexology session can provide in terms of stress relief and therefore pain relief.

It’s important to remember that because we don’t treat, the benefits to the feet are a bonus – but one which everyone can enjoy.

As with a lot of pathologies or deviations from the norm, flat feet may not begin with the feet, unless the condition is congenital.

As we age there is a tendency for the feet to pronate, but most of us who have healthy arches will likely keep them, as long as we don’t abuse our feet.

Unless there are deformities in the bones that do not support the structure on the arch – the only thing that will create it or remove an arch is the tissue that surrounds it. Bones can’t keep themselves in place without a collective effort (cranial bones may be the exception because of their intricate system of interlocking sutures).

So what keeps the foot arch in shape (or out of shape)? Ligaments, tendons, muscles and connective tissues.

Let’s look at which of these supports the arch…

Firstly, ligaments connect bone to bone, and there is a lot of ligamentous attachment around the arch of the foot to keep it stable.

Next, we have 2 very important muscles whose tendons both attach to the base of the first metatarsal. One comes from the outside and the other from the inside (front) of the leg and together they form a stirrup that supports the medial arch of the foot.

The “peroneus longus” is the outer muscle and the “tibialis anterior” is the inner one that form a “continuous” support because they both attach, at their distal ends, to the same bone: metatarsal #1.

So if the foot is flat, one of these muscles is probably weak and the other is possibly in spasm or at least tight.

At this point you might refer your client to a massage therapist, however, many are not familiar with, nor trained in the intricacies of the feet.

An osteopath is likely your best recommendation (or a chiropractor). Most in the medical profession will defer to the use of orthotics to correct the misalignment.

Orthotics can support the structure and relieve a degree of the pain, but they’re not aimed at correcting the cause of the problem.

Both an osteopath or a chiropractor should be able to take a look at the structural alignment, or rather misalignment and offer treatment and exercises to recalibrate the back, or hips, or legs, or whatever the cause is found to be.

I’ve personally met someone with flat feet who gave themselves an arch. As he described it, he did exercises that lengthened his peroneus longus muscle and toned or tightened his tibialis anterior muscle.

Admittedly, he had to exercise every day, and if he didn’t (or even if he stayed on his feet for more than 8 hours) his pronation would return.

A simple exercise to strengthen the tibialis anterior is to stand with both feet on the ground and lift only your toes (extension).

A way to lengthen the peroneus longus is to stand with both feet on the ground and roll your feet onto their outside edge (supination).

By doing this daily, he swore that his arch would remain elevated throughout the day and that the pains he felt in his back, legs and feet were alleviated.

Of course this is just one person’s approach and may not work for everyone. That’s because there can be many different reasons for flat feet.

Reflexology is a complementary modality that will work well in conjunction with just about any medical treatment. It’s been found successful in relieving the pain that accompanies many pathologies and treatments. Flat feet are just one of many.

Think of your client’s highest good and join forces with other professionals so that the best results can be achieved.

Their feet will thank you for it.

In addition, don’t forget that with reflexology, the magic is in the details. For structural issues, I pay attention to the reflexes to all the spinal reflexes in addition to the reflexes to the legs, hips and knees, arms and shoulders.

  1. Be attentive and listen for what your clients needs.
  2. Be clear about your reflex location.
  3. Never work beyond your client’s pain threshold.
  4. Hold the healing space as sacred.
  5. And, enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE?
You can as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Online health and reflexology expert Wendy I. Coad, the “Reflexology Professor” publishes the popular “Reflexology Secrets, Tips and Techniques” monthly email newsletter to subscribers from around the world. If you’re ready to enjoy health, express creativity, gain knowledge and skyrocket you reflexology or holistic health career, get your FREE tips now at http://www.reflexologyprof.com.

Reflexolyogi!

August 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Tips

Submitted by Wendy Coad on August 27.

Well here’s a match made in heaven.

We’re all familiar with the benefits reflexology, so imagine what will happen if you add yoga. Yoga is the traditional physical and mental exercise discipline that originated in India.

In the present time, more and more people, especially in the US (and you’ll see it just about everywhere, around the world), are resorting to Yoga to find a solution for chronic health problems as well as a practice in attaining peace of mind. And those who don’t practice it already are curious about knowing what exactly Yoga is and what’s included in it.

Although many of us are well aware of the health benefits of the physical activity, not everyone knows about the origin and exact definition of Yoga.

It’s a popular belief that Yoga merely includes stretching and warm up exercises. Of course, yoga involves stretching, but includes many other things beyond that. Yoga’s aim is to unite the mind, the body, and the spirit.

Branches of Yoga

The major branches of yoga in Hindu philosophy include Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. There are many more that you commonly see including Iyengar, Kripalu, etc.

The Goal of Yoga

The goal of yoga may range from improving health to achieving Moksha (within Jainism and the monist schools of Advaita Vedanta and Shaivism the goal of yoga takes the form of Moksha), which is liberation from all worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death (Samsara), at which point there is a realization of identity with the Supreme Being.

I’ve always thought of yoga as an exceptional health practice – after all, it’s our responsibility to take care of our own health and well being. Yoga is not a religion but rather a encourages a state of being present that is based on awareness of your body and mind in order to fully experience your wonderful (and wondrous) existence here on earth.

Benefits of Yoga

The most important benefit of yoga is physical and mental therapy. The aging process, which some think is largely an artificial condition, caused mainly by autointoxication or self-poisoning, can be slowed down by practicing yoga. By keeping the body clean, flexible and well lubricated, we can significantly reduce the catabolic process of cell deterioration. To get the maximum benefits of yoga one would do well to combine the practices of yogasanas (exercise), pranayama (breathing exercise) and meditation.

Yoga is not only a great form of activity but it also massages all the internal glands and organs of the body. Tai Chi can also offers these benefits, but it is a different exercise and philosophy altogether.

Yoga acts in a wholesome manner on all of the various body parts. It is thought to help in the flushing out of toxins from every nook and cranny which in turn may help to facilitate nourishment up to the last cell.

The benefits – delayed ageing, increasing energy and offering a remarkable zest for life (see list below)!

Therapeutic uses of yoga

Yoga is highly therapeutic. Some of the ailments proven to be relieved, reversed and even healed through the practice of Yoga are acidity, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, anger, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, bronchitis, cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, colitis, common cold, constipation.

Some other benefits of Yoga are

  • Dexterity skills improve
  • Reaction time improves
  • Posture improves
  • Strength and resiliency increase
  • Endurance increases
  • Energy level increases
  • Weight normalizes
  • Sleep improves
  • Immunity increases
  • Pain decreases
  • Steadiness improves
  • Depth perception improves
  • Balance improves
  • Integrated functioning of body parts improves

How can reflexology help?

If you look at the previous statement: Yoga acts in a wholesome manner on all of the various body parts. It is thought to help in the flushing out of toxins from every nook and cranny which in turn may help to facilitate nourishment up to the last cell… I could say the same for reflexology.

As a reflexologist, I have clients report to me every day that they have seen improvements in their health. And they attribute those improvements in part or in whole to reflexology.

I love to see my clients and they enjoy their sessions but there is a lot more that can be done between sessions that will help to maintain health or may even accelerate their healing process.

Before I go further, I want to tell you that I am not a yoga instructor or expert. Thankfully that’s one less thing I have to do because there are plenty of them all around. (I live in an urban area, but for those of you who don’t have any classes nearby, there are many good videos and books out there.)

I often recommend yoga classes to my clients who want to work on their health between reflexology sessions. I think it’s excellent just as an exercise program, and it also offers support for the life-style changes that will serve you well in the long run.

Hopefully there’s a class that will suit your speed, but if you’re a little older and have gone to a class with a room full of 20 year olds with buff bodies – do not despair. You can do half the poses that the instructor is offering and still reap the benefits.

But referring to a class is not all that I use yoga for. It’s easy to recommend some simple stretches for the toes. A favorite of many is –

1. Hold onto a chair or a table and place both feet on the floor.

2. Bend one foot so that the toes are flat on the floor but the heel is lifted high off the ground.

3. Rock the foot (heel) from left to right so that the toes remain bent and on the floor but the metatarsophalangeal joints and the flexor tendons get a nice stretch.

4. Change the direction of the toe bends from extension (curled up) to flexion (curled under). Make sure it’s comfortable and if your toes don’t bend well in this direction – don’t strain to do so. But if they can bend under, you can again

5. Rock the foot (heel) from left to right so that the toes remain bent and on the floor, but the metatarsophalangeal joints and the extensor tendons get a nice stretch too.

Client’s love it and so do I.

Note: It’s recommended that you check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

There have been numerous students who have come to train in reflexology because they have either had a yoga instructor do a little foot compression at the end of the class, or they’re a yoga instructor who has gotten rave reviews from giving a little foot compression at the end of a class and they want to know how to do more*. (*Note to those who want to market their reflexology!)

One or 2 of my former students have actually incorporated reflexology into their own practice, creatively working on their feet as they relax into certain poses.

As I said before, it’s a match made in heaven and you should consider suggesting it to clients as a great tool for health in between sessions – or learn it yourself – you too could become the next Reflexolyogi!

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills and explore how beautifully reflexology mixes with any healthy modality. It can work for everyone.

Here’s to your good reflexology health!

@ 2009 The WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE?

Wendy Coad, the “Reflexology Professor” helps reflexologists and aspiring reflexologists learn dynamic skills that attract clients and increase sales.

If you liked what you read today and want to learn more or refresh your skills, you’ll love Wendy’s www.thefootfactorprogram.com.

The Reflexology Professor has been sharing holistic health and “Reflexology News, Tips and Techniques” in classes, trainings and a weekly email newsletter to students and subscribers from around the world.

You can learn more about Wendy and her programs at www.reflexologyprof.com

Reflexology and the Digestive System

March 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

digestive_trackBefore I get to the reflexes, I want to talk a little bit about the digestive system as a whole.

The best place to start is with the first step in the digestive process.

Believe it or not, it happens before you even taste your food. Just by smelling the aroma of mom’s homemade cherry pie or thinking about how delicious that salad is going to be, you start salivating – and the digestive process begins, preparing for that first scrumptious bite.

The food we consume is the fuel for our bodies, and its nutrients give our cells the energy and substances they need to operate. But before food can do that, it must be digested into small pieces the body can absorb and use.

About the Digestive System

Our digestive system is a wondrous series of organs and glands that processes food. In order to use the food we eat, our bodies have to break the food down into smaller molecules that it can process; it also has to excrete the waste.

For the most part, our digestive organs (i.e., the stomach and intestines) are tube-like and act as containers for the food as it makes its way through the body. The digestive system is essentially a long, twisting tube that runs from the mouth to the anus, plus a few other organs (i.e., the liver and pancreas).

The Digestive Process (Movement of Food through the System):

I’ll be talking more specifically about each organ of the Digestive system individually in future Reflexology Newsletters, but let me briefly go through the organs involved: The digestive process begins in the mouth.

Food is partly broken down by 2 processes – the mechanical process of chewing and by the chemical action of salivary enzymes (these enzymes are produced by the salivary glands and break down starches into smaller molecules).

On the way to the stomach: the esophagus – After being chewed and swallowed, the food enters the esophagus.

The esophagus is a long tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach. It uses rhythmic, wave-like muscle movements (called peristalsis) to force food from the throat into the stomach.

This muscle movement gives us the ability to eat or drink even when we’re upside-down.

In the stomach – The stomach is a large, sack-like organ that churns the food and bathes it in a very strong acid (gastric acid). Food in the stomach that is partly digested and mixed with stomach acids is called chyme.

In the small intestine – After being in the stomach, food enters the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. It then enters the jejunum and then the ileum (the final part of the small intestine).

In the small intestine, bile (produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder), pancreatic enzymes, and other digestive enzymes produced by the inner wall of the small intestine help in the breakdown of food.

In the large intestine – After passing through the small intestine, food passes into the large intestine. In the large intestine, some of the water and electrolytes (chemicals like sodium) are removed from the food. Many microbes (bacteria like Bacteroides, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella) in the large intestine help in the digestion process.

The first part of the large intestine is called the cecum (the appendix is connected to the cecum and the ileocecal valve – connects the ileum to the cecum). Food then travels upward in the ascending colon.

The food travels across the abdomen in the transverse colon, goes back down the other side of the body in the descending colon, and then through the sigmoid colon.

The end of the process – Solid waste is then stored in the rectum until it is excreted via the anus.

How is the digestive process controlled?

1. Hormone Regulators

The major hormones that control the functions of the digestive system are produced and released by cells in the mucosa of the stomach and small intestine.

These hormones are released into the blood of the digestive tract, travel back to the heart and through the arteries, and return to the digestive system where they stimulate digestive juices and cause organ movement.

2. Nerve Regulators

Two types of nerves help control the action of the digestive system.

Extrinsic, or outside, nerves come to the digestive organs from the brain or the spinal cord. They release two chemicals, acetylcholine and adrenaline.

Acetylcholine causes the muscle layer of the digestive organs to squeeze with more force and increase the “push” of food and juice through the digestive tract.

The intrinsic, or inside, nerves make up a very dense network embedded in the walls of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon.

The intrinsic nerves are triggered to act when the walls of the hollow organs are stretched by food.

Digestive System Problemsfoot_map_digestivesys

Nearly everyone has a digestive problem at one time or another.

Some conditions, such as indigestion or mild diarrhea, are common; they result in mild discomfort and get better on their own or are easy to treat. Others, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can be long lasting or troublesome.

Keeping Digestion on Track

The kinds and amounts of food a person eats and how the digestive system processes that food play key roles in maintaining good health.

Eating a healthy diet is the best way to prevent common digestive problems.

What can reflexology do?

You can see from the information above, the digestive system is a vital and complex system that involves the whole body – digestive organs, nervous and endocrine systems.

Now we know where the digestive system is in the body – let’s review the location of the reflexes on the feet.

Bilaterally, the digestive system reflexes occupy the area on the plantar surface of the feet, between our reflex landmarks of the diaphragm line and the pelvic line (exceptions are the esophagus and sigmoid colon reflexes).

If you follow the bones – the digestive system reflexes are superficial to the shafts and bases of the metatarsals and all of the bones of the mid-foot (the 3 cuneiforms, navicular and cuboid bones).

And, just as these organs are located on the left or right sides of the body, the reflexes will be found on the corresponding left or right foot. As above, so below.

I’m always on the lookout for changes in tissue texture in the soft arch of the foot. I call it the “belly of the foot” because that’s where the “belly” or digestive reflexes are mostly located.

The mere size of the digestive system reflexes on the feet, proportionately give feet a winning edge for addressing the digestive system there.

But even though the feet the space advantage, the other reflexology areas (hand, face and ears) are better for other reasons – like a deeper relaxation response – so don’t count them out.

If I’m not detailing a specific digestive organ reflex, I keep the techniques general.

Thumb-walking the 5 zones from the pelvic line to the diaphragm line, essentially addresses the digestive system reflexes “en mass” (the sigmoid colon and rectum reflexes dip into the heel on the left foot).

Now, as a reflexologist it’s always a relief to me that we don’t treat, diagnose or prescribe.

But, as we know, everything in the body, all our systems and processes are affected by stress and not in a good way.

I know from the vast amount of research that’s out there now – reflexology can profoundly affect the parasympathetic nervous system and has the greatest potential to reduce stress.

It’s useful to “listen” very carefully to what the feet will tell you here. Any changes in tissue texture found on the arch will add the digestive system to my menu of reflex areas to detail in the session.

And, for self-help, the access we have to the “soft belly” or arch of the foot is such that it’s almost made to rest our hand and scoop into it.

Even a few minutes of general work can make a difference. But, when you detail the specific reflexes research proves that our effectiveness can increase threefold!

Key steps for your digestive health

It’s important to keep in mind that we are what we eat. Choosing the right food and eating in a calming environment is ideal.

These tips will help you maintain better digestive system health:

  • Choose high quality, fresh organic foods – raw foods have their own enzymes which are especially important when your body is healing and may be low on enzymes in general.

  • Chew thoroughly – Digestion of carbohydrates (starches, sugars) starts in your mouth with saliva and enzymes. The enzymes not only help break down your food, they also attack bacteria.

  • Don’t rush when you’re eating – take your time and sit down to eat. It sounds obvious, but a lot of people hurry their meals.

  • If you drink a beverage with your meal make sure it’s room temperature – If you drink ice cold liquid with your food, your body has to heat it first and that takes more time and energy away from the digestive process. Drinking enough water is always a good idea and it will aid all your body’s processes. But drinking it (or any beverage) cold with your meal will slow digestion down. Enough said.

There’s so much I’d like to share with you on this topic, so I’ll be adding more future newsletters.

As Charles T. Copeland once said:

“To eat is human, to digest divine.”

Reflexology and the Adrenals

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

If you’ve ever doubted what these two little “Endocrine System Glands” can do, just watch the news sometime.

Anytime you hear of some heroic headline – “Firemen Rush into Burning Building”, or “Mother Lifts Car off Trapped Child”… the adrenal glands are implicated (such as in acts of strength and stamina as well as the downright super-human).

Let’s take a look at these amazing organs of the body, and then we’ll talk about their reflexology reflex points.

The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the star-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamines, including cortisol and adrenaline, respectively.

Anatomy and function

Anatomically, our adrenal glands are located in the abdominal cavity situated atop the kidneys, specifically on their anterosuperior aspect. They are also surrounded by the adipose capsule and the renal fascia. Found at the level of the 12th thoracic vertebra, they receive their blood supply from the adrenal arteries.

The adrenal gland is separated into two distinct structures, both of which receive regulatory input from the nervous system:

Adrenal medulla

The adrenal medulla consists of masses of neurons that are part of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. Instead of releasing their neurotransmitters at a synapse, these neurons release them into the blood. Thus, although part of the nervous system, the adrenal medulla functions as an endocrine gland.

The adrenal medulla releases:

• adrenaline (also called epinephrine) and

• noradrenaline (also called norepinephrine)

Release of adrenaline and noradrenaline is triggered by nervous stimulation in response to physical or mental stress.

Some of the effects are:

• increase in the rate and strength of the heartbeat resulting in increased blood pressure;

• blood shunted from the skin and viscera to the skeletal muscles, coronary arteries, liver, and brain;

• rise in blood sugar;

• increased metabolic rate;

• bronchi dilate;

• pupils dilate;

• hair stands on end (“goosebumps”);

• clotting time of the blood is reduced;

• increased ACTH secretion from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

All of these effects prepare the body to take immediate and vigorous action!

Adrenal cortex

Using cholesterol as the starting material, the cells of the adrenal cortex secrete a variety of steroid hormones.

These fall into three classes:

1. Glucocorticoids (e.g., cortisol)

The glucocorticoids get their name from their effect of raising the level of blood sugar (glucose). One way they do this is by stimulating gluconeogenesis in the liver: the conversion of fat and protein into intermediate metabolites that are ultimately converted into glucose.

The most abundant glucocorticoid is cortisol (also called hydrocortisone).

Cortisol and the other glucocorticoids also have a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the body. They depress the immune response, especially cell-mediated immune responses.

For this reason glucocorticoids are widely used in therapy:

• to reduce the inflammatory destruction of rheumatoid arthritis and other

autoimmune diseases

• to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs

• to control asthma

2. Mineralocorticoids (e.g., aldosterone)

The mineralocorticoids get their name from their effect on mineral metabolism. The most important of them is the steroid aldosterone.

Aldosterone acts on the kidney promoting the reabsorption of sodium ions (Na+) into the blood. Water follows the salt and this helps maintain normal blood pressure.

Aldosterone also

• acts on sweat glands to reduce the loss of sodium in perspiration;

• acts on taste cells to increase the sensitivity of the taste buds to sources of sodium.

3. Androgens (e.g., testosterone)

The adrenal cortex secretes precursors to androgens such as testosterone.

In sexually-mature males, this source is so much lower than that of the testes that it is probably of little physiological significance. However, excessive production of adrenal androgens can cause premature puberty in young boys.

In females, the adrenal cortex is a major source of androgens. Their hypersecretion may produce a masculine pattern of body hair and cessation of menstruation.

Fight-or-flight response

The fight-or-flight response, also called the fright, fight or flight response, hyperarousal or the acute stress response. We react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing. Thisactivation is associated with specific physiological actions in the system, both directly and indirectly through the release of epinephrine (adrenaline) and to a lesser extent norepinephrine from the medulla of the adrenal glands.

An “Adrenaline Rush” means an activity of the Adrenal gland in a Fight-or-flight response, when it is releasing Adrenaline (Epinephrine). A chronic hyper adrenaline is a common symptom of an anxiety disorder.

So much packed into such a small package!

And, what does it mean to reflexologists?

If you have a client who’s stressed, anxious, overworked, overtired or who just lives in New York City – you’ll probably notice a “change in tissue texture” around the adrenal gland reflex on the foot (it’ll likely be sensitive on the hand reflex area as well – don’t flex too hard there – rather work into the point gradually).

Well we know that stress is s big factor in our everyday lives, but when there’s added stress due to emotional issues, health issues, daily life issues… Now, who couldn’t use a little support.

Our first task is to find the reflex points:

On the feet the “Adrenal Gland Reflex” is located on the lateral shaft of the 1st metatarsal, close to the base. That puts it (vertically) between metatarsals one and 2 and (horizontally) approximately half way between the waist and the diaphragm reflex line landmarks.

Usually you can’t miss it. There’s often a BIG change in the tissue texture! Now, don’t think you’re dying if you find it to be sore on your foot.

Remember it’s a “call for energy” and not a verifiable illness.

However, it’s in your client’s best interest to spend a little TLC time on that reflex point. Roll into it or hold it steady. Is there one way that’s better than another to work that little point… probably, but it’s not because “The Professor” said so it’s what the tissue needs – so “listen” to the tissue.

I love to work on this reflex point and don’t be surprised if you notice it can even be found on other reflex zones.

What else can you do?

A big adrenal stimulator is caffeine. It’ll increase the release of our stress related hormones and it keeps the body in a continuous, and unnecessary, state of stress – which can stress the adrenals along with other organs and glands. If this goes on for too long, you’ll probably notice other symptoms like fatigue, irritability, allergies, sleeplessness and… and inability to cope with stress. Not fun.

Always check with a professional before treating yourself (and don’t even think about treating others unless you’re a doctor). Some self-help texts say that small amounts of licorice help by acting as a re-uptake inhibitor for adrenaline. But, too much licorice can increase other hormones, so only use in small quantities.

Other than reflexology, one of the safest and most effective ways to combat stress that comes to mind is meditation.

There’s much more I’d like to share on this topic, so look for the next installment, coming soon.

Here’s a quote by Rachel Carson, who sums up an important perspective for well being:

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

A Lesson from Mr. Spock

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Tips

If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be writing about an “obscure” little point like the Eustachian tube reflex, I might have laughed out loud.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known how powerful all the points around the bases of the toes are.

So important, in fact,  that I’ve designed a new technique, or at least one that I was never taught or had never seen done before, just to detail this incredible reflex area.

You know where I’m talking about… at the base of and in between those little toes. Who but a reflexologist would even go there. It’s where sock bunnies live and other squishy things that we sometimes just have to avoid.

But deep in those crevices, around and between the toes, are some of the most populated reflexes known to humankind.

I suppose I’m more sensitive to their effects because this area contains the reflexes to the parts of my body that give me the most grief: the neck, the sinuses, the lymph, the trapizeus muscles, the eyes and ears and… the Eustachian tubes.

What a list, and at any given time, on any given person there will be cause to work there, to detail this reflex or that, for the sheer relief that our reflexology techniques can bring through relaxing the body and connecting to all its systems and parts.

I could spend a good amount of time on any one of the reflexes mentioned above, but I want to focus on just one… the Eustachian tube reflexes.

What are the Eustachian tubes anyway? When was your last conversation about them? Can you even spell the name without looking?

Most reflexologists know that the Eustachian tube is the fine tube that connects the middle ear to the outer world.

One function of the Eustachian tube is to drain excess fluid down, and eventually, into the throat. Other functions allow ventilation and the equalization of the middle ear and atmospheric pressure.

Think colds, sinus build-up and congestion – plenty of not so wonderful things that can benefit from the draining effects of a wonderful little tube.
Now, this tube is small, it’s thin and delicate – and that’s just in adults.

Babies have tiny little parts and the Eustachian tube is one of them. If anything gets clogged or congested in the body, it can cause discomfort and worse.

I want to remind you that reflexology is never a substitute for medical attention, so if you or anyone else has inflammation or infection, you must seek medical attention.

I’ve long taught the joys of holding the Eustachian tube reflexes, either steadily or with a playful alternating stroke, to calm and sooth fussy babies.
And, everyone who has tried it, and has reported back to me, describes an experience that has had some measure or a calming or soothing effect, especially on babies.

For some it has “worked like magic” to quote one or two very relieved parents.

Mothers are such naturals… healers and all. When they play this “little piggy went to market”, they are, in reflexology terms, stimulating the CNS reflexes – the brain.

And when they tweak between the toes they’re detailing the neck, shoulder, lymph, sinus, eye, ear… and Eustachian tube reflexes.

How do you find the Eustachian tube reflexes.

Think of Spock… Mr. Spock.

He’s the Vulcan guy with the big ears on Star Trek. He gave a special signal that opened to the Eustachian tube reflex of the hand.

That’s it, in the web of the hand or foot, between the third and fourth digits.
“Go forth and prosper”, I think he said.

I say, hold on and reflex.

Try it and let me know.

Reflexology – Love the Moment

February 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

I enjoy finding something new each week to bring to you.

I love talking about the practical, the technical, the philosophical, but what I love the most are the moments in reflexology that bring me closer to spirit.

I’m sure you know what I mean – when you realize in the midst of your reflexology session, there’s just a quiet calm.

These are very special moments.

It reminds me of when I was an artist – a painter. I still am, but I say, “I used to be an artist” because I haven’t painted a picture for a while.

I remember my favorite part of that creative process – the part I loved the most was when I became one with the moment. And… all strung together they became hours, making it seem like time both stopped and flew by.

I’m sure that’s what kept me painting for almost 25 years. I’m just as sure I’ll return to it someday, but not because I miss those moments.

Let me explain…

I don’t think about feet much when I’m not working on them, but when I start to work on my client’s feet – it occupies my full attention.

I like to tell my students that there are really many layers to a reflexology session. Two of them are:

1)    The techniques – and we’ve got the best!
2)    The “attention” and “intention” that goes into the session.

When I start my session, I take a moment at the beginning and at the end to” intentionalize” what I want my client to gain from the session.

I usually weave this into the first point I hold– the solar plexus reflex.

Now, we reflexologists know that this is a very intense and powerful reflex point. In fact, I believe that if we could do nothing else, by holding this one point we could help the body in its natural balancing processes… IN A BIG WAY.

So while I’m there for those few seconds, or maybe up to a minute, I let my mind clear and I bring my focus to the table – ATTENTION.

I let my intuition tell me what thoughts to add, if anything, and intend that the reflexology – and safe compassionate touch – is “for my clients highest good” – INTENTION.

Sometimes, a little blessing or a mantra, an image or a sound will emerge and I add it all into the mix.

I’m one of those folks who believe that intention sets up the vibration, or the energy, for the whole session. It can affect us right down to the cellular level…

So, I always want to start from (and, I suggest that you NEVER underestimate the power of) these positive and powerful places – attention and intention.

From the solar plexus point on, the sequence of events that unfolds in a reflexology session are nothing short of miraculous.

Not because anything theatrical is going to happen, but because I will be a witness to the nuances and the changes, the textures and their shifts for the next hour of my life on this planet.

I sometimes think that reflexology, as great a tool as it is, is simply a vehicle for us to be present, fully present… for my client… and, for myself.

It is written into the “stone tablets” of reflexology. BE… PRESENT.

And, what happens when you’re fully present?

It feels to me like I can tap into the whisperings of the universe.

Sometimes I wonder why this occurs – what’s so special about these particular moments? Is it really just the feet? (It happens with the hands, the face and the ears too!)

There’s a level of “conversation” that goes beyond the verbal or even the spoken word. That conversation is a parlay between client and practitioner, indicating that there is support, a deep listening and peaceful rest available.

I find that most clients drink deep from this well.

I think of it as “holding the space for their healing to occur” (or, to continue or, to complete itself…)

This is sacred ground.

As my clients sink deeper and deeper into the layers of relaxation, I sink deeper and deeper into the surface of the skin.

My thumb and finger walking pressures don’t change much, but in my “mind’s eye”, I imagine the layers of tissue that I’m above and making contact with.

Sometimes, I even count the layers… skin, connective tissue, muscle, bone.

As my thumb walks steadily across the surface, every reflex point becomes a world unto itself.

I’ll give you an analogy… from an artist’s perspective.

It’s as if I was walking in a great museum (I like the Guggenheim Museum in New York City), and each reflex point is like a painting.

There’s a slow and steady pace you keep in order to get through all the rooms. Some rooms are covered at a glance, each painting quickly acknowledged and appreciated.

But, some rooms are taken at a much slower pace… and one or 2 paintings simply drawing you in.

There are even places where you stop altogether and just pause… for a moment… or two… struck with awe and wonder at the depth of this point.

Time is suspended.

By being there, by paying attention to what’s before me, I notice that all of the world is in front of me.

I think this quote sums up what I’m saying:

“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It effects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.”

– Corita Kent

I’m sure I’ll take up painting again, but for the moment, I’m in no hurry.

Are you a Professional Reflexologist?

January 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

It’s been a busy 12 months and that’s just how I like it. It took a long time, but I finally realized that if I want to be successful at reflexololgy and business, I had to be willing to keep on learning.

It’s a well know success principle – the work you do on improving your skills is the a BIG factor in how well you do.

Let me point out my favorites.

You’re as current as the last training.

Yes, you might be practicing and doing a good job, but there’s more to continuing education than meets the eye.

Everything that you’re doing is being done in the way that you know how. It will always have the same habits and parameters… and might just get a little stale.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone will effect change in several ways.

1. You get to experience someone else’s take on what you do. Why would this be of interest? Because they will be presenting it differently, they’ll have a look, feel, style that you can draw from.

2. Surround yourself with like-minded people. This is a huge energizer. The gathering of different students with different interests creates a networking opportunity. That’s one of the best parts of any learning experience.

I’ve actually gone to several workshops just to network. The course material is a bonus. Contacts, colleagues and friends made in the program were worth the price of admission. (Here’s a reality check – paying tuition of $1,000.00 a day, or more, is standard for workshops in the top professional fields.)

3. Find the best to learn from. There are a lot of people offering a lot of information, but the people who have been around and have solid programs are going to attract a more professional group of students – not to mention more information and experience to share.

4. Find a coach, a Mentor or a Mastermind Group. Stay in contact with someone who is doing what your want to do or doing it better than you are currently. The cost of the investment should be made back many times over.

We’ve all looked to others to model our practices. Pick a good model.

5. Invest in your practice. For some this means putting aside the time and for others it means you have to lose the poverty mentality. It doesn’t mean that you can’t work with people who can’t pay, but you too deserve to earn a living and you won’t if you don’t have balance in the the financial’s.

6. Go out and get some reflexology and pay for it. Find the best and most expensive practitioner you can and leave a really big tip too. Yes, I know there’s better than a 50% chance you’ll be disappointed because there really isn’t that much great reflexology out there, but it will teach you one or more of these 3 things:

a.) You can be happy you did because you got some “dynamite” reflexology. In addition, a couple of the techniques that you experienced are new or different and you can use them in your sessions too.

Or,…

b.) The session was lousy, so now you know for sure that people will pay well to have even mediocre reflexology. Imagine how thrilled they’ll be when they get the real deal from you!

And, therefore…

baseballc.) You’ll be confident that your work is 10 times better (and it will be if you trained with me or one of my colleagues – someone who really does know how to teach). Some practitioners claim to be reflexologists with only 16 – 20 hours of training… I rest my case.

After all you’ve had a minimum of 200 hours of reflexology specific techniques, anatomy & physiology, and practicum. (And, some of my students have had 500 hours of unique reflexology training – you can’t beat that.)

So, all you have to do is tap into your own goldmine.

That’s what my reflexology skills are to me – my goldmine. I have 8 years of college, a post graduate degree, up to 10,000 hours of bodywork training and yet, I make a great living and have a great life with reflexology.

I work for myself and I skip to work. I’m so happy, helping people have a better quality of life and “healing the world one foot at a time”™.

If you’re not there and you’d like to be, then implementing the above will help you – “step up to the reflexology plate”.

“Live long, reflex and prosper”