Published on February 3, 2008
Your feet take abuse all day long and then they have to stand around some more while you wash the grime of work from your face when you get back home. That's not fair, says Supanee Tientongtip of the Thai Spa Association.
"Your feet are at the end of 62 nerves that run throughout the body and play a role in the working of your internal organs," she says. "Any pain or swelling should not be overlooked."
Supanee recently conducted a foot spa workshop at the Parker & Morgan shop full of beds, bedding and other relaxing things at Bangkok's Siam Discovery Centre.
Archaeological evidence has traced reflexology back to 2000 BCE, to ancient Egypt and China. The science of manipulating foot bones, muscles and nerves to improve general health re-emerged in Europe in the 19th century.
The big picture today, says Supanee, encompasses a three-step, do-it-yourself treatment: soaking, scrubbing and massaging.
First, she suggests, fill a tub with warm water and add a little Chinese tea, kaffir lime leaves, several drops of essential oil or even a small scented bath balm.
Essential citrus oil can energise the muscles and tissues, Supanee says, while lavender and eucalyptus combat foot odour.
Soak your feet for 10 minutes, keeping your eyes closed and breathing deeply.
Then dry them off and use a brush or a pumice stone to give them a good scrub. This clears away the dead skin.
Now, sit cross-legged with the sole of one foot facing up. Press your entire hand snugly against the sole, and then set both thumbs in the middle of the sole and firmly draw them outward to the sides of the foot. Work your way down from the toes to the heel.
Repeat this procedure with the other foot.
Next, with the sole facing down, hold your right ankle with the right hand and the toes with the left and turn the foot as far as you comfortably can, clockwise 10 times and anti-clockwise 10 times. Again, repeat with the other foot.
Spread a moderate amount of foot cream on your palms and apply it to your feet, using the thumb, index and middle finger of both hands.
Begin with the toes, keeping in mind that they're linked reflexively to the head and brain. The next area you massage - the base of the toes - corresponds to the chest organs.
The arch of the foot is believed connected to the upper abdominal organs, including the stomach. Knead the arch with your thumbs or the knuckles of your fist, and then use those knuckles on the heels of your feet, which are aligned with the organs of the lower abdomen.
Before moving on to the other foot, slip a sock on the one you've massaged to retain the heat and moisture.
For extra benefit, drink a cup
of warm water to flush out
toxins and lactic acid. Don't take a bath or wash your hair, hands or feet for at least an hour, though, because it will disturb the circulation of energy that you've put in motion.
This foot treatment, says Supanee, stimulates blood and lymphatic circulation as well as helping the internal organs in their functions. It's great for those fatigued foot muscles and will cut down on odour and soften the soles, and it can relieve headaches and arthritic pain and put an end to athlete's foot.
Diabetes sufferers, however, should shun foot massages because of the fluctuations in water temperature.
And foot massage isn't a good idea right after meals, after drinking alcohol or during pregnancy, or if you have a high fever.