A Deeper Understang of Foot Disorders
It is estimated that approximately 80 percent of adults will develop foot disorders, even though most people are born with healthy feet. There is a tendency to blame foot problems and deformaties –corns, calluses, bunions, in-grown toe nails, etc on ill-fitting shoes. This is part of the problem, yes… but only partly so. ( Complete Reflexology –Therapeutic Foot Massage for Health and Well-being, Inge Dougans (1996) p. 98).
Foot Problems as tell-tale signs of internal energy blockages
Problem areas on the feet relate to problem areas in the body. Which one is the cause and which one is the effect is debatable and may be posed as a “chicken or egg” question. Nevertheless, molecular/energy blockages along a meridian pathway or on a specific reflex point (peripheral nerve ending) -brought about by either internal or external factors -can upset the body’s equilibrium.
If the problem is internal, the reflex area and the related meridian will be sensitive to excess pressure and friction and become more susceptible to the formation of corns, calluses and other problems.
External factors cause congestions along the meridians in the same ways as internal problems. If these meridian congestions are not dealt with they can have an adverse effect on body parts along the entire meridian. This goes on to create some level of imbalance throughout the body.
With the combination of understanding reflexes and meridians, we can observe these issues in a different light and unravel the tales they have to tell about the deeper state of the body as a whole. (Complete Reflexology –Therapeutic Foot Massage for Health and Well-being, Inge Dougans (1996) p. 98, 99).
What are Meridians?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), wherein Therapeutic Reflexology and Acupuncture have their roots, we talk about the meridians. Meridians are electro-magnetic pathways that run vertically up and down the body. Our body’s vital life force, derived from our nutritional intake, oxygen, etc, runs along these energy pathways and feeds our various organ systems, as well as muscles and other tissues. When these pathways become blocked through toxins, the vital life force is impeded and disease may follow over time if not corrected.
By administering therapies such as reflexology, acupuncture, shiatsu, thai massage, yoga, etc, one is not only improving circulation to the nerves and other tissues of the body but also clearing neural pathways, helping the body to regulate the hormonal system, and allowing the vital life force to flow more efficiently along the meridians, bringing about healing and vitality.In this way we may prevent or slow down any degeneration of the tissue, and / or avoid a foot issue from arising or getting worse.
The Story of High Blood Sugar shown in the Feet
Many diabetics commonly suffer from one or more of the following foot problems. The common "thread" among many of these specific foot problems is the spleen/pancreas meridian.
Big Toe Problems
Enlarged big toes, ingrown toe nails, and other nail disorders on the outside of the big toe are very interesting.Such problems falls directly on the pathway of the spleen/pancreas meridian (Sp1 etc -see diagram below),showing up blood sugar concerns and inflammation taking place in the body as a result of excess insulin, due to a low quality diet and/or ongoing stress.
Dry / Cracked Heels
The heels of the feet relate to the pelvic reflex in reflexology. The pelvis and organs housed therein, such as the reproductive organs of the uterus/prostrate as mentioned above are traversed by the spleen/pancreas meridian, and reproductive health problems are often accounted in the health histories of diabetic patients during their puberty to adult life.
Knee / Shin Problems
Take the example of a business owner with high stress levels, who is a type 1 diabetic. After several years he suffered severely with his knees and had to have joint replacement surgery on both knees. The spleen/pancreas meridian passes through the shin and knee (medial aspect of the patella).
Evidence of varicose veins and vein spiders as well as skin disorders will often be found along this meridian. (Reflexology; The 5 Elements and their Meridians –A Unique Approach, Inge Dougans 2005 p.102). Thigh pains, groin pains, hernias,pelvic complaints, menstrual abnormalities such as painful or heavy periods, endometriosis or uterine fibroids often resulting in hysterectomies or infertility, and Fallopian tube dysfunctions that can lead to further infertility challenges, are related to the spleen/pancreas meridian and therefore to the unevenness of blood sugar balances. (Reflexology; The 5 Elements and their Meridians –A Unique Approach, Inge Dougans 2005 p.102) Not to mention breast cancer located in the outer regions (see pathway of the spleen/pancreas meridian as demonstrated above). It is now well understood that cancer cells generally thrive in an environment maintained by an acid-forming diet based on refined sugar.
PATHWAY OF THE SPLEEN/ PANCREAS MERIDIAN
FROM THE INNER SIDE OF THE BIG TOE UP THROUGH THE INNER SIDE OF THE LEGS INTO THE PELVIS AND OUTSIDE BREAST AREA
Bunions manifest on the spleen/pancreas reflex and the thyroid reflex on the metatarsal joint where a deep skin groove or callus is likely to be present. Many patients with bunions or even bursitis will often confirm a strong need for stimulants such as sugar, sweets, simple refined carbohydrates, caffeine, nicotine, etc. as well as a strong need for being wanted and loved. Patients who have had their bunions removed time and again show up a thyroid imbalance and the need for thyroid medication, and also have a problem with their weight and metabolism. It is not unusual for a patient with bunions experiencing a stressful situation and releasing their emotional upsets by consuming more stimulants. At the heart of it, either situation should be looked at as a blood sugar concern and not necessarily just at the surface level of a bunion problem.
Dry Lips (dry, sore & cracked in the corners)
There is a widely understood connection between a strong thirst, dry mouth and potential diabetes. Nowadays more and more people suffer from diabetes or low blood sugar. There is little scientific explanation, if any, for the connection between the pancreas as an organ and the mouth. However, this observation was first noted by the Chinese more than 5000 years ago when understanding the pathway of the spleen/pancreas meridian’s partner, the stomach meridian which relates to pH balance (acidity in the body) which can be tested from mouth saliva. (Reflexology; The 5 Elements and their Meridians –A Unique Approach, Inge Dougans 2005 p.106). One can observe these kinds of symptoms as further "tell-tale signs" of blood sugar challenges as the immune system struggles to function optimally when constantly faced with acidic, refined, high glycemic,low quality, carbohydrate-rich diets and addictive stimulants.
Many people feel the sensation of palpitations when the blood sugar drops. Again a small internal branch of the spleen/pancreas meridian goes to the heart and, if the blood sugar fluctuates continually and the person is responding by having the wrong foods such as a cup of tea/coffee or a bar of chocolate, rather than nutrient dense foods that will help to stabilise the blood sugar levels through the day, this can increase the likelihood of long-term problems of the heart. One of the major risks for any diabetic patient is a heart condition. (Reflexology; The 5 Elements and their Meridians –A Unique Approach, Inge Dougans 2005 p.107)
Diabetic patients often have an apple shaped body type which puts them into a high risk category for heart disease. The belly fat, or 'central adiposity', carried is indicative of cardio-metabolic syndrome, otherwise known as syndrome X. From Functional Medicine we learn that insulin, the main hormone involved in blood sugar management can have pro-inflammatory effects in the body. Belly fat is described as 'hot' fat, or 'visceral' fat -fat that surrounds the vital organs. These fat cells (adipose cells -hence the term 'central adiposity') actually house inflammatory compounds that are triggered by high insulin levels and cause tissue damage, such as in the blood vessels for instance. Again we can think about the stomach meridian and spleen/ pancreas meridian and how they penetrate the systems involved in pH balance, blood sugar control and inflammation.