Monday, May 23, 2011

Reflexology work on left foot causes right hand to move

Why would reflexology technique applied to the eye/ear reflex area of the left foot result in movement of the fingers of the right hand? A good question asked during a recent Skype participation in the 20th Anniversary of the Maine Council of Reflexologists.

Such a response would seem contrary to the basic reflexology tenet of zones, relating one part of the foot to the body (right foot to right side and left foot to left side) in ten segments.

There’s a two part answer: (1) the foot was that of a quadriplegic and (2) sometimes a foot is a foot, a participant in the foot’s contribution to walking.

(Note: This discussion is based on 916 hours of simultaneous hand and foot reflexology work over five years applied to a quadriplegic client and two paraplegic clients. Literature research included two years of studying a foot step by Kevin as well as study of the nervous system by Kevin and Barbara.)

First consider this response was replicated in work with paraplegics with one exception: it was the other foot that moved. Then there’s how the opposite foot moved. What started as random spasming of the other foot changed over six months into positioning for a footstep.

Think about a foot step for a moment. The heel of one foot hits the ground while the toes of other foot are leaving the ground. This heel strike and toe off pattern results as one foot moves itself into a flexed position (dorsiflexion) and the other foot moves itself into a toe-pointing position (plantarflexion).

What we saw after six months was one foot (the foot to which technique was applied) move itself into a position of dorsiflexion. The other foot moved into a position of plantarflexion. We were watching a nervous system disrupted by spinal cord injury try to take a foot step—all prompted by pressure to a sensor keyed to make such movement happen (what reflexologists call the eye/ear reflex area). Yes, the body is hard-wired in the nervous system to respond to the stimulus of pressure to a specific part of the foot. Putting together such bits of pressure sensed by the foot makes a footstep take place along with a key component of survival: movement.

To consider what was at play with the quadriplegic client, think about the footstep again. As one foot moves forward what do the opposite arm and hand do? They move in concert with what is called the cross extensor movement. 

Food for thought: This would not happen when working on the foot of an uninjured individual. What happened, happened because a an other-than-normal response was made within a nervous disrupted by a spinal cord injury.

While this would not happen with a typical reflexology client, nonetheless, the same signals are at play in the nervous system. Pressure applied to the foot impacts the body’s walking mechanism. While no movement will take place in an individual with an intact spinal cord, the client’s opposite foot and hand will be impacted when technique is applied to the eye/ear reflex area of the other foot.

No wonder the feet themselves feel so good after a reflexology session. They’ve received a tune- up of their basic function of walking in addition to a reflex area workout.

For further infomation read the Paralysis Report.

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