Soul with Sole
When we talk about the soul, whether religiously or spiritually, there is a common understanding and belief that it is an immaterial energy of a being. The soul is infinite, meaning it is eternal and can live many lives. The soul carries personal, intellectual information and knowledge due to these experiences and therefore can determine what makes each one of us happy in our own ways, in our present day.
Likewise, the soles of our feet carry intellectual information which link to and signal the rest of the human body to tell it how to feel, function and move. The feet are the foundation of the human body and they are almost always active, even while sitting, except when lying down. With all the activity the feet experience it is important they remain healthy to act as a solid foundation for the body, as a building’s need for a solid foundation as well.
Upon viewing these similarities, it is no coincidence that we can ground our souls through the soles of the feet! Rooting the feet down to the ground and feeling physical contact while taking deep breaths can help you to re-center. A sense of calm comes over the body and mind and the energies within you can re-balance, making you feel like yourself again, which is essentially your soul-self.
The Feet and Energy Concepts
The energy concepts between the soles of the feet and the spiritual soul are vast but not limited to one another. The feet experience many physical energy concepts in relation to the rest of the body. Physical energy concepts of the feet include reflexology, acupoints and meridians. Reflexology is the study of the reflexes or reflected pathways that energetically link the internal organs to the extremities. When touch or pressure is applied to certain points on the extremities it is said to have an associated effect to the viscera. These specific locations are called acupoints; they feel like small nodules or bundles of connective tissue and they influence the nervous system. Acupoints are situated on meridians, which are also physically linked to the central nervous system. Meridians were previously believed to be only a source of energy or ‘chi’ running through the body, but it is now known that these energy channels are also physically associated to the body through connective tissue. Therefore, when we touch the connective tissue of the feet like the skin, the muscles, the tendons and ligaments we influence the rest of the body.
Major Benefits of Foot Massage
Massaging the feet has many health benefits. On a physical aspect, it is always beneficial to release muscle tension, smooth out hard nodules or pressure points, elongate the plantar fascia, relieve pressure around the joints (namely the ankle) and decrease swelling or inflammation. This improves blood circulation to the area, leaving the feet light and flexible.
The list of benefits can become very specific when looking at the acupoints and each associated body part. For instance, if you want to help ease shoulder pain through the feet, you can massage the small pad under the pinky toe, in reflexology this is known as the shoulder reflex. If you have a stomach-ache such as nausea, indigestion or cramping, you can find the groove under the pad of the big toe to help relieve those symptoms; in reflexology this known as the stomach reflex. Or if you're experiencing constipation, you can find your medial malleoli (the bony bump on the inside of your ankle, the outside bump is called the lateral malleoli) and press just below the bump on the point known as ‘KID 6’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
As you can see, many pathologies or symptoms can be treated through the feet because working on relieving these pressure points stimulates the nerve endings which signals the body to eliminate toxins, help improve metabolism, improve blood circulation and gives relief from stress on the associated body parts. Finally, just a general massage or touching of the feet promotes relaxation and increases endorphins, which naturally relieves pain.
Massage Your Feet at Home
With all this talk about touching the feet I bet you are wishing for a massage right now. Maybe you are wondering “can I give myself a foot massage?” and the answer is yes! I will show you how. If you read my article An in Depth Guide to Insomnia- Part 2, you may remember that in Tradition Chinese Medicine it is suggested to massage your feet before bedtime around 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM as a relaxation routine. So, set aside some time tonight and follow along here:
Begin in a seated position, make sure you are comfortable and supported, then cross one leg to start with the foot of your choice. If your feet are dry or chapped, you can apply a moisturizing lotion just to hydrate the skin and to get an initial touch on the foot. Start to slow down and notice the pleasurable sensations you start to feel, notice if there are any sensitive or painful spots that stand out and if they start to feel better with each pass that is creating fluidity. Next, moisturize the other foot-cover the foot well, go over sensitive areas and spend the same amount of time as you did on the first foot. Now that your feet are warm let us get into some massage maneuvers. Complete numbers 1 to 4 on each foot first and then keep number 5 for both feet at the end of the massage.
1. Circular Maneuvers on the Planter Muscles and Heel:
Starting with both thumbs on the heel, move up to the pads of the foot creating semi-circular movements staggering each thumb along the way. Start back at the heels and repeat 3 to 5 times.
2. Transversal Foulage of the Plantar Muscles:
Begin with both thumbs inside the heel on the sole of the foot with both tips facing each other. Next, begin crisscrossing and alternating the thumbs. Cover the whole width of the foot and move up to the pads of the foot including the grooves under the toes. You can move up and down with the crisscross or begin at the starting point each time. Repeat for 3 to 5 times.
3. Petrissage and Compression of the Heel:
Begin with all the fingertips on the inside of your heel, glide across the heel and end by squeezing and holding for 1 to 3 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times or as many times as needed.
4. Gliding Over the Metatarsals and Toes:
Begin with the fingertips on the top-mid part of the foot and the thumb on the plantar side of the foot at the same level. Glide up to the tip of the big toe ending with a light squeeze or a light pull then slowly release. Do this 3 times on the big toe. Start back in the middle of the foot and glide up the second toe for 3 times. Continue this sequence with each remaining toe.
5. Plantar Flexions, Dorsiflexions, Inversions, Eversions and Rotations of the Ankles:
All that to say: it is time to move to your ankles in all directions. Now that the massage portion is complete, move both ankles from side to side, front to back and in circular motions. It is totally normal if you hear a few cracks here and there, just keep going slowly. This continues to improve blood circulation and increase range of motion.
I really hope that you enjoyed this sequence, I hope that your feet feel lighter and that you feel more relaxed. It is totally normal if you feel drowsy, you just had a massage! I recommend drinking a glass of water (like after any massage) and continue to unwind before bed without the use of any electronic devices. Try to implement this into your routine at night whenever you can or as needed. I hope this at-home massage tutorial has left your soles and your soul feeling more grounded. Goodnight!
If you enjoyed this massage tutorial, stay tuned for my new e-book coming soon!
Learn about fascia, what it's made up of and how to achieve a myofascial release. Truly the go-to, beginner’s guide into understanding the fascial system and how to connect to it. Also includes practical images to follow along to. Stay tuned!