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San Clemente Journal

The Sole of Reflexology

May 19, 2014 09:48AM ● By Don Kindred

Thai Body works owner Gina (center), in an outdoor cabana with Ann and June.

by Maggie Zeibak

Reflexology. I’ve got an Ap for that, but Ap is a masseuse in Bangkok, Thailand and not very handy to administer her expertise in San Clemente. When we need to balance the energy flow in our bodies, a restorative alternative therapy needs to be close at hand to awaken the healing potential. 

Those of us who consider Reflexology for health benefits, know that this is not a substitute for a medical diagnosis, treatment or care, and a reflexologist is not a medical professional. It’s also not a tool to go surfing on the internet self-diagnosing your imagined problem. It simply complements other treatments.

What is it and what does a reflexologist do? 
The sole of the foot has been mapped to identify corresponding organs, so by applying pressure to specific points the trained reflexologist can identify areas that need stimulating and cause a response from the body. They don’t claim to fix a problem in the body; just help it to work better. This ancient, non-invasive practice has been in use since the early Egyptians recorded information in tombs circa 2330 BC; symbols were also recorded on the feet of statues of Buddha in China and India.

It wasn’t until William Fitzgerald MD, subsequently known as the father of reflexology, introduced zone therapy to the US around 1917, that the practice was used here. He felt that pressure may send signals to balance the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins, to reduce pain and stress and provide a beneficial effect on the organs of the body. Later, in the 1930s the theory was further developed and reintroduced, yet the people of Thailand have known for years the benefit of massage and Reflexology.

Similar to Acupressure, the condition of each organ or gland is reflected in the foot area so when a particular area is tender or sore when pressed, this may reflect an imbalance somewhere in the body. Sometimes this can make you wince or yelp a little, but the discomfort decreases especially with regular treatments. A Reflexologist, each with their own style, uses micro-movements such as thumb or finger-walking to create a response, whereas in comparison, a massage is the systematic manipulation of soft tissue to relax muscles. Don’t worry about being ticklish, the pressure is firm and won’t give you the giggles.

More people are discovering alternative methods of enhancing their well-being. What a fascinating machine our body is! Anything that affects our quality of life sends out a signal – a pain; an ache or the inability to stretch. Something smacks us upside of the head and says it needs to be reprogrammed or reset, pronto. By stimulating nerve endings, circulation increases so that oxygen and nutrients can be distributed throughout the body strong-arming their way through toxins, flushing them away. Just think of Reflexology as a re-energizer.

Thai Body Works on Camino Real offers treatment in their salon starting with a foot scrub outside in their wood-floor cabana, surrounded by herb gardens, lotus ponds and blooming orchids. The comfortable reclining chairs are used when the weather is warm creating a relaxing atmosphere while your feet are soaking in lime slices or herb-infused water. During the cleansing process an exfoliating paste is rubbed in leaving the legs and feet nice and smooth. The tasteful treatment room is darkened with soft music piped in, and before long you start to relax on the towel-draped mattress. ready for the foot massage to begin. 

Gina, one of the accomplished Thai masseuses, wraps one leg in a towel and starts to work on the other, with the help of a small teak stick to pinpoint the specific pressure points. She can adjust the pressure if it is uncomfortable and she is very aware of how her clients are feeling. 
She said, “I can’t fix a problem, but I can help make things work better. After your treatment, I want you to feel refreshed with recharged batteries - as if you have new feet.” 
Happy Feet doesn’t just happen in a movie. Prepare yourself for a deep, good night’s sleep after a Reflexology session as many people feel the benefits of relaxation carry over for several days. 
It’s best to tell your masseuse if you are pregnant, have diabetes or any other medical condition as they perform a different technique accordingly. With most Reflexology sessions a hand, neck and head massage is included so after the minor discomfort, remember; no pain, no gain, you can look forward to a little slice of heaven. The lemon-grass tea served afterwards transitions you back to the real world.  

As for me, I’ve decided not to raid the Frequent Flyer account to go to Bangkok - why should I? I’ve got the solution right here in San Clemente.b

Thai Body Works can be contacted at (949)369-9714.