They are arguably our body’s most important tools, yet the hands and feet are often overlooked in a client’s daily regimen and even in some spa treatments. Our hands are always on show like our faces, and our faithful feet are the foundation on which we stand, tirelessly getting us from place to place.
Remember the first moments in summer, how sensitive our feet are as we walk around barefoot, jumping up and down? By the end of summer, we are running around barefoot with no hesitation. You have been massaging and breaking up congested areas that relate to different organs, nerves and glands, or reflex points.
Our hands and feet tell us a lot about our health. When massaging them, they can often be sensitive to the touch. The sensitivity is caused by crystalline deposits. These deposits are made up mostly of uric acid or calcium crystals, which can form when our bodies are out of balance. We can lightly massage them with effleurage strokes, acupressure or reflexology points, known as reflex therapies. These are all beneficial non-invasive treatments that can create a deep sense of relaxation and serenity.
This article discusses the benefits of acupressure and reflexology for the hands and feet, further detailing additional essential oils, topical products and tools that can be used to craft a well-rounded and enjoyable hand and foot treatment for the client.
Eunice D. Ingham, a physical therapist, introduced modern reflexology to the western world. She found that the reflexes on the hands and feet are a mirror image of all the organs, glands and parts of the body, a charted map of the reflexes or circuits.
Our body is controlled by an electrical system. There are main circuits to every organ, gland and nerve in your body, and these circuits have nerve endings in your hands and feet. Our bodies are always relaxing and contracting, and the crystal-like formations around our nerve endings in our hands and feet can keep circulation from moving freely. By massaging or applying pressure to these reflexes, we can open up areas that are blocked or inflamed and bring about health, rejuvenation and beauty.
Acupressure was discovered thousands of years ago by the Chinese. It is an ancient and precise mapping of the human body’s energetic circulation. They have found 72 specific meridian channels that circulate throughout the body and discovered hundreds of acupressure points on the skin.
Acupressure points can be activated with needles, pressure, heat or electricity. The meridians and the precise placement of the acupressure points are the basis of acupressure treatment. Each meridian is associated with different tissues and organs, and each point has a unique effect on the flow of the energy within the meridians. The Chinese word for this energy is qi, pronounced chee, or life force. Intentional and gentle pressure is applied to the acupressure points to promote or disperse the qi circulation. When the qi is abundant, balanced and flowing, it relieves stagnation, restores vitality and supports all the functions of the organs, glands and nervous system.
Benefits In Practice
Since we know the circulatory, endocrine, digestion and lymphatic systems are all essential in healthy, radiant skin, hand and foot massage will help to stimulate and energize, or calm and regenerate the entire body. We can melt away tension and stress, allowing a continuous flow of energy to infuse the body and impart a deep sense of relaxation.
As practitioners, we can have a reflexology (see Foot and Hand Reflexology Guide) or acupressure chart (see Hands and Feet Acupressure Guide) hanging in our treatment rooms. By applying gentle pressure or massaging reflex points, blood flow and circulation of oxygen in the body will be increased, resulting in hydrated, vibrant skin.
Stimulation to the glandular system reflex points will help with inflammation and balancing hormones. Most skin imbalances are due to over or underactive conditions, and hand and foot massage will help in stimulating and improving the function of the organs.
When we utilize massage and reflex points, the benefits through the hands and feet are endless. We can pull gently on the fingers, releasing stored tension from computer mouse fatigue, keyboards and cell phones. Gently pressing the tips of the fingers and toes opens up the sinuses and relieves congestion. The reflexes to the lungs are situated along the pads of the feet which lie below the toes. This will help with deeper breathing and chest colds. Clear lungs are also associated with clear, vibrant skin, due to oxygenation of the blood. Massaging and pressing the top of the feet at the base of the toes stimulates the lymphatic system. Move the fingers to the ankle area and massage the reflexes which lie just under the ankle bones both inside and outside of the foot. This is often sensitive and helps relieve menstrual cramping and headaches due to PMS or menopause. When you massage the reflex points below the ball of the hands and feet, you are nurturing and nourishing the digestive system. A healthy gut is equal to healthy skin.
Our clients might overlook the importance of attractive hands and happy feet. Home care is important for continuous wellness both inside and out, so recommending some of the following can help ensure not only attractive hands and feet but better overall wellness.
Charts. Clients can print out reflexology and acupressure charts for home use or you can have some available for them.
Retail topicals. Recommend retail products for both hands and feet with nourishing cell regenerative botanicals and therapeutic essential oils. Clients can use exfoliants such as pumice, diatomaceous earth or fruit acids at home to smooth away dry skin. They can be used by themselves or with an additional exfoliating tool, like a brush or loofah. You can also recommend soothing, nourishing and protective oils and creams for nighttime treatments with gloves and socks
Pumice. Pumice stones can help stimulate circulation and keep hands and feet smooth
Essential oils. Clients can use a drop or two of an essential oil blend to rub into feet.
Foot roller. Roll one foot at a time over a foot roller while reading a book, at your office, talking on your cell phone or watching a good movie.
Earth. Tell clients to take their shoes off and put their feet on the Earth. Have them ground themselves in the dirt, in the grass or in the sand. They will feel re-energized, connected and a sense of well-being.
Our bodies are always leaning into health, and when we embrace the tools of reflexology and acupressure, we gain a closer relationship with the wholeness and simplicity of touch. By using the reflexology and acupressure charts, we are empowered to guide our clients to health, vitality and balanced energy.
Reflexology, acupressure or massage of the hands and feet, treat the whole body. When our clients are energized, happy, invigorated and feeling a sense of peace, we are providing them with a sense of their deeper roots. At our core, we are divine, and each of us are unique. Where we choose to place our next step and who we reach out and touch is our personal pathway to our soul’s purpose.