by Karen Ball, LMT
I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall learning a lot about what causes debilitating foot pain when I first studied reflexology or massage therapy. I was forced to learn though as more and more people came to me with their painful conditions – often as a last ditch effort.
Initially, my approach was simply reflexology – very targeted reflexology sessions. Sometimes that worked beautifully, but sometimes it didn’t; and that left me more than a little frustrated and disappointed in myself.
As fate would have it, I developed plantar fasciosis (often referred to as plantar fasciitis). My compassion for those who had sought out my help soared, and my motivation to figure it out leapt into the stratosphere. I was so not willing to accept the prognosis of a one-year recovery time!
I dug around, studied more, talked to a lot of other people, and eventually developed an approach that worked – for me, at least. It took me three months to recover, not 12.
The real test came though, when a well-known massage therapist in town called and asked for my help with one of her clients who had been diagnosed two years earlier with plantar fasciosis (PF). This woman’s experience with PF was way beyond what I had undergone. I “experienced” plantar fasciosis; she was “enduring” it.
I asked a few questions and was told that this woman:
• religiously followed a stretching routine given to her by a physical therapist.
• tried heel lifts and custom-made orthotics.
• had consulted with and received regular treatments from a podiatrist.
• wore “sensible” shoes; in fact, she had gone so far as to have very expensive custom-made shoes created just for her feet.
• had received more than one corticosteroid injection in her heel.
• tried Ultrasound therapy on her heel.
• had received Prolotherapy treatments on her heel.
• underwent ESWT (Extracorporeal shockwave therapy) treatments on her foot.
• and finally had a Plantar Fasciotomy (the last resort – a surgical approach that “clips” the fascia).
Oh, yeah, and she was not overweight, nor was she sedentary, nor did she work at a job that required her to stand on her feet all day!
Yikes! This woman had done everything that the allopathic community prescribes. She reported that her pain was not as excruciating as it initially was, but was noticeably still there.
Frankly, I felt less than confident that my approach would make a difference – but I agreed to see her anyway.
I started by asking this woman to show me the stretches she was doing. All were the same that I had performed daily, with the exception of one other that she was not doing.
So, I taught her that one stretch and then proceeded to give the hands-on session that I had developed – which I teach attendees in the How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshop.
The session begins with a focused, targeted foot reflexology session, followed by assisted passive and active leg and foot movements to clear nerve compression, erase muscle memory and re-educate the muscles to a balanced state. The release of nerve impingement along the S1 nerve root combined with a solid foot reflexology protocol and adherence to an individualized homework plan is what I found creates a successful treatment for stubborn plantar fasciosis cases.
At the end of that initial session, the woman went home with the invitation to call me the next day to let me know how her feet felt upon rising the next morning. I was probably more anxious than eager to hear from her!
She waited until the late afternoon to call, because as she explained, “I thought the results were too good to be true, and didn’t want to jinx anything by stating out loud how I felt.”
Turns out she slept through the night for the first time since having been diagnosed with PF! First night in two years not being awakened by foot pain! She said that the pain was not completely gone, but it was minimal; and for the first time in this lengthy journey of recovery she felt hopeful for a full recovery. Yay!
She returned the next day. We repeated the session and she set off the following week for a planned walking tour in Europe with her family, accompanied by a new stretching homework routine to prevent re-occurrence. I never saw this woman again.
Buoyed by the success with this client, I added in some additional protocols and techniques, learned how to really target my reflexology work and most importantly, how to identify better choices my clients could make pertaining to their own foot health.
Through trial and error and formal study, I have discovered that much of the suffering that people experience in not only their feet, but the knees, hips and low back, results from a number of irregularities within the lower extremity that can be influenced with the protocol that I practice.
Standing Out In The Crowd
Over time I became known in my community for being able to help people with chronic foot pain, especially peripheral neuropathy and plantar fasciosis (both of which are addressed by the same hands-on protocol).
What I do now with clients suffering from chronic foot pain is very different than what I once offered – and that is what I share in the How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshop, a two-day event that looks at how bodyworkers can impact 20 problematic foot complaints that people present with.
I hope you will join me on November 19 and 20 at FSM, for my last workshop of the year. Invest in your business, save yourself years of research, trial and error and create a reputation in your community as the “go-to” person for foot pain.
This training is designed for certified reflexologists and massage therapists who have had at least a basic 2-day training in reflexology and have been utilizing it in their practice. I will not be teaching basic reflexology skills in this workshop.
If you qualify, then I invite you to register now. There are thousands of people out there that need our help!
by Karen Ball
I learned Thai reflexology in 2003, and fell so totally in love with the philosophy and experience of giving and receiving this beautiful modality that I just had to turn others onto this amazing art.
Over the many years of teaching Thai Foot Reflexology, the one constant from attendees was a curiosity to know more about the sen lines, and how Thai reflexology intersected with the western style that most of us have been introduced to in North America.
So, in response to those queries I created a 1-day Advanced Thai Reflexology class that explained how the two models relate (ie. which western reflex points the Thai sen lines run through, and which systems in the body were governed by which sen lines), and also give a more in-depth look at the philosophy of the practice.
The Thai sen are what we would refer to as meridians or energy lines. They actually resemble the Ayurvedic energy lines (nadis) more than they do the Chinese meridians though, in that they do not correlate with any organ system in the way that the Chinese meridians do.
The Thai meridians all begin at the navel and end at the extremities of the body and are used to address any and all organ systems through which they pass along their course. In that way, the sen more resemble the zones of Chinese reflexology rather than acupuncture.
Fast forward now to 2016, and I have decided to combine the initial 2-day and the advanced 1-day into a 3-day training I am calling Traditional Thai Reflexology. Enough people have indicated to me that this is the better format for their learning and time schedule.
I am also responding to requests that I provide a video of the hands-on protocol, in addition to the diagramed step-by-step manual that is included with tuition. So, I’m doing that also!
Beginning with the first Traditional Thai Reflexology training at FSM on September 10, 11 and 12, all participants will be given lifetime access to a video demonstration of the protocol for review purposes.
Anyone reading this who took the initial 2-day Thai Foot Reflexology workshop with me over the last 10 years is also eligible to receive that added bonus. Just shoot me a quick email with the year and location that you attended. I’ll add you to the invitation list. email@example.com
And one more offer! If you took the initial Thai Foot Reflexology workshop with me in the past and would like to attend the Traditional Thai Reflexology training at FSM to brush up on your technique, you may do so at a reduced price. Again, just shoot me an email with the year and location that you attended, and I’ll send you instructions on how to go about doing that.
I hope that you will join us on September 10 and experience for yourself what so many others have claimed as “the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation”. Follow this link for a description and all details.
Also, in case you’re wondering, no previous reflexology training is necessary to attend the Traditional Thai Reflexology workshop. This training is perfect for massage therapists and certified reflexologists; the techniques are completely different than what is practiced in conventional western reflexology.
by Karen Ball
Cold mitten friction is a simple washing with cold water accompanied with friction from mitts, towels and/or a loofah.
You may be surprised to discover how much value (and virtually no cost) this simple modality adds to a reflexology session.
What It Does:
The application of cold initially sets vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels) into play, quickly followed by vasodilation (dilation of the blood vessels), which together increase the circulation and elimination of excess heat in the superficial tissues and blood vessels, resulting in a decrease in visceral (organ) congestion.
Rapid movement of stagnant blood allows fresh blood to flood the area, bringing along with it much-needed oxygen and red and white blood cells. Tissue tone is enhanced and metabolism is stimulated.
When to Consider Adding:
- as a way to finish a hot stone treatment or when the client exhibits and/or complains of feeling hot
- client complains of low energy
- poor circulation in the extremities, indicated by cold hands and/or feet
- diagnosis of anemia
- nervous exhaustion
Points to Consider First:
- warm the feet or hands first; this is easily accomplished by giving a reflexology session and/or hot soak
- watch for signs of chilling, such as shivering
- skin lesions; do not offer cold (or heat)
- contraindication for cold, such as Raynaud’s Disease
- aversion/intolerance to cold; never force a client to endure a cold or cool application if they don’t want it!
I like to add cold mitten friction therapy to my hand reflexology sessions.
Following a reflexology session, I will quickly submerge one hand in a basin of cold water and remove immediately. Holding the hand over the basin I will then briskly and quickly scrub the hand with a “scrubbie glove”. They can be purchased at dollar stores, drug stores, big box stores and of course, Amazon. I will have submerged my gloved hands into the water first to soften the glove fibers and get the glove wet. (Added bonus to these gloves, they can be re-used. Throw in the washing machine; air-dry. Simple)
You may choose to add in an exfoliation agent such as an essential oil-infused salt or sugar scrub. Just put a little on your wet, gloved hand and scrub away. Remember, that you are not doing massage. The action is quick and vigorous, not slow.
Once done (it only takes a few moments), quickly submerge the hand in water again, to cleanse off any scrub agent you may have used, and dry thoroughly with a thick, dry towel.
Repeat with the other hand and then massage some soothing lotion into the now smoothed exfoliated hands. Your client will love the feel of their new skin and soon afterwards experience warmth in their body as enlivened blood is coursing through their arteries and veins.
Try It Out!
We will be adding in a few hydrotherapy applications in the Reflexology for the Hands workshop at FSM on July 9 and 10. I hope you will join us and learn how to give one of the most relaxing and healing sessions available.
As a previous participant stated, “If you don’t mind turning into Jello, and learning how to do that for others – this workshop is for you! Learn how to massage the body from the palm of your hand. I’m amazed actually that I feel completely ready to do a session fully after just a weekend.”
by Karen Ball
I’m sure you’ve heard this before: Follow your passion.
Well, I have to admit that I don’t buy into that statement. My passion is not “out there” to be followed like some puppy chasing a ball.
My passion is inside me. And it’s something that developed from following my curiosity. I wasn’t born with the many passions that propel me through my day; they matured by my paying attention to what interested me and then checking those interests out.
But it wasn’t always that way for me.
by Karen Ball
If you read my post from March 16, you’ll know how much importance I put on relaxation. It’s not just me either. Everywhere you look these days, you will see mountains of anecdotal and data-driven evidence on how “un-relaxed” our society is. That chronic level of stress is playing havoc on our health.
If you want to “kick-it-up a notch” in the relaxation department, then I suggest considering how to use hot and cold mineral stones within a reflexology session.
Adding stones to a reflexology session invites the recipient into such a deep experience of themselves it almost defies definition. I swear that the following statements were not written by a copy-writer! They are true, authentic experiences of clients, word-for-word, shared after receiving a Reflexology Rocks! session:
“As strange as they may sound, I feel like I entered the earth itself. I didn’t leave my body; I became part of the body of earth.”
“The experience was the most relaxed I have ever felt. It wasn’t like floating; it was more like sinking into the safety and solidity of the earth.”
“The experience is almost primordial. I have no words to describe the peaceful state I was in.”
If you are a certified reflexologist, or have taken at least one weekend of reflexology training (hands or feet) please consider joining us for this 6-hour class at FSM on Monday, April 20. If you’ve not yet taken a reflexology workshop, there is one at the school on the Saturday and Sunday preceding this class.
In this short class you will learn how to:
– safely use hot and cold mineral stones (basalt, marble and soapstone) in either a hand or foot reflexology session;
– utilize Himalayan salt crystal stones to reduce the effects of harmful electro-magnetic frequencies on the body;
– learn how to incorporate aromatherapy with hot stones;
– incorporate quartz crystal stones to balance the seven primary chakras.
More importantly though, you will yourself experience why clients rave about stone reflexology.
Details and registration here.
Reflexology Rocks! Rock your world!
by Karen Ball
The other day I got into a conversation on a Facebook reflexology group page I follow. The exchange started with a woman’s struggle (her word) around the term Thai Reflexology. She wondered how someone practicing this age-old therapy could call it “reflexology” when the techniques were so different from what she knew.
Her comments sent me back to an earlier time in my reflexology career. Back in 1983, I learned what is now referred to in the United States and Canada as “conventional” reflexology, based on the theories and techniques developed by Eunice Ingham, known fondly as the “grandmother” of modern reflexology. For more than 10 years, I just assumed that reflexologists all over the world practiced reflexology as I was taught, happily thumb and finger-walking their way around an ancient map of foot and hand reflexes corresponding to other parts of the body. And then…
I was exposed to how people taught reflexology in other countries: Dr. Tae-Woo in Korea, Father Josef in Taiwan, Lone Sorenson in Spain, Chris Stormer in Africa, Sharon Stathis in Australia. Ayurvedic reflexology, cranial-sacral reflexology, Thai reflexology, limbic reflexology – the list goes on and on.
As my horizons widened, I expanded my personal definition of reflexology to include all these wonderful approaches and beliefs. I came to the conclusion that any therapeutic work done on the feet or hands that has both the intention and the protocol to affect the body’s physiology was reflexology, no matter the technique.
One of the things that often attracts massage therapists to Thai Foot Reflexology is the short amount of time it requires to learn how to offer the session. It’s a relatively small investment of time and money to explore interest in offering footwork and to witness the acclaimed benefits with clients.
Unlike the conventional model of reflexology, which takes hundreds of hours of training, Thai Foot Reflexology can be learned in only two days. The reason for this is because the session is delivered as a sequence of techniques followed in a particular order, whereas conventional reflexology requires a much deeper study of reflex locations and techniques and how to confidently customize sessions for individual client needs.
Thai Reflexology developed in a country that relied on an understanding of energy and how its status in the body defined wellness or dis-ease. Based on explicit trust of the nature of the human body to seek homeostasis, Thai Reflexology works solely to assist the body to return to equilibrium, as opposed to directing influence to specific organs.
Thai Foot Reflexology is a good way to stand out in the crowd, whether you practice conventional reflexology and/or massage therapy. Please join us at FSM for a Thai Foot Reflexology workshop on Saturday and Sunday, December 6 and 7. This is the last workshop I’m offering this year, and the last one before prices increase in 2015.
Please contact Karen directly with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to register for the workshop.
Many of you have had the pleasure of attending a live reflexology class; some of you haven’t. In any case, you may be interested in watching a video I made for the Florida School of Massage’s U-tube channel. In it I explain a little about the theories behind reflexology, the longitudinal and horizontal zones, the reasons people seek out reflexology, and more. You’ll also see a demonstration of a foot reflexology session. It was fun for me to watch the video. People always comment about my voice when I’m teaching, and I just got to experience it myself!! http://youtu.be/hrvnnf7wzj4