Monday, October 12, 2009

Self Reliance and Reflexology

Dear Mark, (
Your blog posting gave me pause. I appreciate the comments and observations made by a world traveler such as yourself. I would like to put an oar in the water here by challenging your comments about reflexology. The reason I’m doing this, is that now is a critical time for thinking about health and how one acquires it. With aging populations and rising medical costs, such issues are under debate and reflexology deserves a chair at the table.

You see in many cultures, people do take responsibility for their own health and reflexology is a key component. I contend that this fact did not present itself during your Google and Wikipedia searches is more of a commentary about the intricacies of information-finding in the world of the Web than it is about the place of reflexology in the world.

You write:
“I've also done a Google search on reflexology and there seems to be a large segment of the world's population who think that reflexology is a complete sham.… “Personally, I'm happy to wear these sandals around my apartment for a few minutes a day. Do I think that my life is going to be changed significantly by wearing them? No. Do I have faith that these sandals might help my qi out in some way that could possibly have positive benefits on my life? I'm not counting on it.”

When you note that your Google search revealed that most of the world doesn’t believe in reflexology, aren’t you noting that this is true when one refers to information available through an English-language Google search? (Google foreign language searches tell another story and, by the way, “reflexology” may not be the word utilized for the practice in these other languages.)

At the same time you note that the reflexology paths (as shown by a photo on your blog) are found in most parks in China and Asia as well as the reflexology sandals you picture “mimic the walking paths” and are found in most Chinese pharmacies. It seems that you yourself are making an argument for the fact that reflexology is used by those in the most populous country in the world as well as all Asian countries. After all why would these reflexology paths be in parks all over China and Asia if people did not believe in the idea?

Also, FYI the Wikipedia posting on reflexology that you note is a battleground for reflexologists and skeptics. Depending on when you read it, you’ll see which opinion holds sway at that particular moment.
• You quote Wikipedia noting that reflexologists don’t agree on how reflexology works. This is true of not only reflexology but of any vibrant, idea that enthusiasts enjoy discussing. (To see why we think it works in the nervous system as well as to view the research undertaken in some 23 countries, see our web page.)
• The definition of reflexology cited on Wikipedia doesn’t agree with the consensus of reflexologists which is that reflexology is the application of pressure to the feet. Further digging will show you that pressure to the feet is central to the body’s proprioceptive (nervous system) information for helping the body move as well as determine what the internal organs need to be doing. If pressure from the feet shows an individual is seated, a different internal response is needed than if the person is jogging.

By the way, reflexology is fully integrated into the seeking of health health and medicine in Chinese culture as well as that of other countries in Asia. Reflexology use in hospitals of China and Korea especially speaks of its use on a medical level. The reflexology paths and sandals are examples of self-help use. (The Chinese government includes Tap Shek (Stepping Stone) paths as part of its National Fitness Plan including granting money to build paths in Chinese cities. It is seen as a low impact fitness system appropriate for senior citizens who, reportedly, line up for their “fashionable fitness activity,” a 15-minute morning and evening walks..) Reflexology services are available across China in several chains of “reflexology parlors,”  one of which includes 700 outlets. One of the top tax payers in Japan is the woman who owns a chain of reflexology parlors in that country. Japanese tourists travel to Taiwan to visit that country’s reflexologists who practice a unique style. I could go on with other examples of the active reflexology industry in Asia, making one think that all this money is being spent on a commodity (reflexology) that these people belive in.

Thanks for the chance to voice my opinion and safe journey in your future travels,
Barbara Kunz

1 comment:

Mark said...

I'm glad that my post gave you guys so much food for thought!

I understand where you are coming from on believing that neither Google nor Wikipedia (both English-based communications tools) can provide balanced information about something like reflexology. I'm sure there is plenty of information supporting reflexology in searches done in other languages (something I didn't do).

China, and many parts of Asia, have indeed embraced reflexology. There is a long tradition of such practices there.

I'm curious what you think of some of the other ancient practices, like reflexology, that go in in China.

Do you believe in walking backwards for promoting a healthy lifestyle? Do you avoid drinking ANYTHING cold? Do you avoid air conditioning in the summer time?

There are lots of things, like these three, that Chinese people told me that one should do to have a healthy lifestyle. I don't necessarily believe that just because something has a long tradition of being practiced makes it tried and true.

I still enjoy wearing my sandals a couple times a week. Do I think that it's doing something positive for my body? I'm not sure. But like I said, it's something I'm willing to try and I have been enjoying it.

You didn't criticize me very harshly in your post. I don't really think my stance is worthy of being criticized strongly.

I'm being fairly open-minded about something that, instinctively, I'm very skeptical of.

Good luck on your blog and your work.