Reflexology for Runners
By Jeff Bello
When you ask someone to think about running they might picture an intensive cardiovascular workout and nothing more. In reality, running affects the body as a whole including (but not limited to) the circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, muscular, integumentary, and lymphatic systems. Involving so many different systems, you can see how running has a huge impact on the body inside and out. Although the entire body is technically moving while you are running, the main impact is still on the feet.
In fact, reports show that the force exerted on the feet as we run is a total equivalent of ten times our body weight! That’s over a thousand pounds of force that the feet are absorbing with every stride taken. Throughout the years of wear and tear your feet start to build tension, lactic acid, stiffness, and joint pain which can lead to plantar fasciitis, neuroma, or tendonitis. These conditions can be treated with surgery and other medical procedures, but what we are starting to see today is a turn towards a more holistic hands-on approach such as Reflexology.
Reflexology is the art and science of applying thumb and finger pressure to points (reflexes) on the hands and feet which produce referral sensations that in turn help to relax and balance the body’s systems. With Reflexology producing such a deep relaxation and healing brainwave state many athletes turn to it to help ease nervousness and achieve better sleep just before a big event. Distance runners will often take advantage of the deep brainwave patterns during a Reflexology session to visualize the successful outcome of their event which maximizes their mind-body connection on race day. Other benefits are a reduction of inflammation in the body by improving circulation and removing toxins.
One of these toxins happens to be lactic acid, and a buildup of lactic acid is what causes muscle soreness which can throw off any athletes’ performance. Research provided by Bonash University, Australia, shows that Reflexology can actually remove lactic acid from the legs four times faster than a regular massage. This greatly benefits all my marathon runners when they start to get into those last five miles. With that increase in circulation the body receives greater delivery of oxygen and nutrients.
This in turn produces better endurance, stamina, improves the immune system, and the body’s ability to heal and recover faster. Now this is the most fascinating part to me: For runners and athletes who have foot injuries Reflexology still works! If an athlete has an injury where the foot cannot be touched, a Reflexologist can work on the hands instead. The hand is the “referral area” for the foot and vice versa, so it is possible to help an injury even when a foot or hand should not be worked on directly. Reflexology can be extremely helpful in a fast and natural recovery from event injuries that could otherwise be debilitating to the serious athlete. In the long run, even if you’re not in it to win it, the benefits of Reflexology can be incredible for your overall health and can give you that competitive edge as well as a swift recovery that every runner is looking for.
Reflexology for Plantar Fasciitis
By Heather at Foot Palace (yourfootpalace.com)
Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common orthopedic complaints. Those that suffer from Plantar Fasciitis usually experience stabbing heel pain and stiffness with their first step out of bed in the morning. This pain can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain and affects nearly 2 million Americans each year. The pain is caused from inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue, which is a thin web-like ligament that runs across the bottom of your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes. This thin ligament is the foot’s arch support that helps you walk. The pain from Plantar Fasciitis normally decreases as your foot limbers up throughout the day, but can return if you spend a majority of your day standing. We don’t often think about our feet but our daily lives put a lot of stress on our plantar fascia ligament.
This common orthopedic condition is frequently found in runners. The ligament normally acts as a shock absorber, and putting too much pressure on this ligament can wreak havoc on your feet. However, Plantar Fasciitis doesn’t just affect athletes. You may also be at risk for this condition if you are overweight, late in a pregnancy, menopausal, or wear shoes with inadequate arch support. Maintaining a healthy weight, stretching before physical activity, and wearing shoes with proper arch and heel support may reduce your risk of getting Plantar Fasciitis.
Reflexology can not only help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by Plantar Fasciitis, if done regularly, reflexology can cure it! During a reflexology session you fist soak your feet in a hot foot bath to soothe the sore muscles. Once your muscles have loosened up a little form the warm soak, a therapist begins working on breaking up the “crystals” in your feet, loosening up the tight bands of the fascia, and then stretching the ligaments and Achilles tendon. Doing this helps to further relax the muscles in the feet and calves, to increase circulation and flexibility. Increasing the circulation and flexibility in your lower legs and feet reduces the inflammation causing pain in the plantar fascia. Like most injuries, there’s no instant cure, but receiving regular reflexology sessions can help you achieve pain relief in minutes, help gradually lessen your daily pain, and help maintain full flexibility in your feet, heels, and lower legs.
A Note from Oriana, owner at Soothing Soles: My practice has been active now for 3 years, and my success rate with Plantar Fasciitis is 100%. If you are suffering from this incredibly painful and debilitating condition, please give reflexology a try before considering surgery.