Talk about taking a couple of workhorses for granted. A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) found that trimming our nails is about as far as most foot-care regimens go. Mostly, says Lori S. Weisenfeld, a sports podiatrist in New York City, “people generally will neglect their feet until they have a problem with them.” Here's how to show them a little more love — or find some relief if they're tired and achy.
This often-misunderstood option on a spa menu is based on the idea that applying pressure to specific points on the feet can improve the functioning of certain organs and glands. Although there are a number of theories about how reflexology works, some research suggests the pain-reducing benefits come from stimulating — either with pressure or massage — identified points on the feet or hands that affect nerve endings and the central nervous system.
While reflexology can feel as heavenly as massage, it's not exactly the same thing. “It isn't just about pampering yourself; it goes more deeply than that,” says board-certified reflexologist Christine Issel, cofounder of the American Reflexology Certification Board. In general, she says, “no tools are used — only the reflexologist's hands applying pressure to various reflexes in the feet. It should be deeply relaxing, not painful.”
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You'll sit in a reclining chair or on a bodywork table while a reflexologist applies gentle pressure to specific areas on the top, bottom and sides of your feet. A 60-minute session costs anywhere from $50 to over $120. Be sure to check the credentials of the practitioner to make sure he or she has been certified by the American Reflexology Certification Board. To find a qualified reflexologist in your area, go to American Reflexology Certification Board (arcb.net) and the Reflexology Association of America (reflexology-usa.org).