by Lucy Staves, R.C.R.T
Registered Reflexology Therapist
How Are Your Feet?
I get a lot of people talking to me about sore feet. It makes sense. I’m a Reflexologist, feet are my thing. However, I’m not a foot doctor and I don’t diagnose or treat foot injuries. One of the first questions I ask new clients is whether they have any injuries or issues with their feet, as while Reflexology can feel wonderful to tired or achy feet, it could trigger or exacerbate an injury.
According to the Ontario Society of Chiropodists, 75% of Canadians will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. And about 19% of the Canadian population experiences a foot problem of some sort each year.
And it’s not surprising when you consider how complex the human foot is:
- There are 26 bones in each foot, a total of 52 bones in both feet. There are 206 bones in the body which means more than a quarter of all our bones are found in our feet.
- Thirty-three joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and tendons hold the structure together and allow the foot to move in a variety of ways.
- Fourteen of the 26 bones are found in the toes. Each toe has three bones, except the big toe, which has two.
- There are more nerve endings per square centimetre in the foot than any other part of the body. Our feet constantly supply us with information about the surface we walk on, without us even being aware of it. They tell us whether the surface is hot or cold, rough or smooth, and which side it slopes to.
Did You Know?
The Ontario Society of Chiropodists mentions that, on average, we walk 6.5 km a day. Each step can exert a pressure on your feet that exceeds your body weight. When you’re running, that pressure can be three or four times your weight which adds up to a cumulative force of over 500 tons a day. And with certain sporting activities, this force can even go up to seven times your bodyweight. But what’s perhaps even more surprising is that standing in one spot can be far more tiring for the feet than walking, because the same small group of muscles are being used constantly for a period of time.
Feet As A Mirror of Health
It’s really no wonder our feet get sore. Feet are so important, but are often one of the most neglected areas of our body. Unlike our face or hair or teeth, it’s easy to take an ‘out-of-sight-out-of-mind’ approach to them.
Our feet can mirror our general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet. Foot ailments can actually be the first sign of more serious medical problems. Reflexology is a holistic therapy that is based on the belief that pressure points or reflexes for every single part of the body, can be mapped onto the feet. By stimulating these reflexes, reflexologists can promote relaxation, improve mood, release tension in the body, enhance sleep, and generally improve your sense of wellbeing.
When To Seek Medical Help
Most minor foot pain from overexertion can be treated with home remedies like rest, cold therapy, epsom salt soak, and gentle stretching/massage. A reflexology treatment is a great way to help the muscles of your feet relax.
However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Severe pain or swelling,
- An open wound, or a wound that is oozing pus,
- Signs of infection such as redness, warmth, and tenderness on your foot, or if you have a fever over 100F (37.8C),
- Inability to put weight on your foot,
- If you have diabetes and have a wound that isn’t healing or is deep, red, swollen or warm to the touch.
You should also schedule an office visit to an expert if you have:
- Persistent swelling that doesn’t improve after 2-5 days of home remedies,
- Persistent pain that doesn’t improve after several weeks,
- Burning pain, numbness or tingling involving most or all of the soles of your feet,
- If the pain is widespread, involves both of the feet, or you are unsure of the source of the pain,
- If you have (or suspect you might have) a medical condition like diabetes.
Reflexology and Foot Pain
Can Reflexology help with my foot pain? Reflexology is about more than treating feet. It’s a holistic therapy for balancing and aligning the entire body. But since the treatment is localized on the feet, it can certainly help soothe tired and achy feet. I see many patients with conditions such as plantar fasciitis who find that Reflexology (in combination with other treatment such as rest, stretching, and the correct footwear) gives them a lot of relief.
Once you’ve eliminated a foot problem or injury as the source of your pain, I would love to help your tired feet get some relief. You can book an initial phone meet-and-greet with me, to chat about your feet.
Note: During lockdown, reflexology treatments are still available as long as you have a referral from a regulated healthcare practitioner.