Foot massages are also known as reflexology and were mainly practiced by Chinese therapists. In this kind of massage, therapists believe that each spot on the sole of the foot corresponds to an internal organ, and by applying pressure on these points one can not only heal a patient but can also augment overall well-being. Reflexology is based on the theory that an ailment of an internal organ is associated with the nerve ending on the sole of the foot, and according to this theory a healthy patient should not feel any strong pain when pressure is applied on the sole.
The therapists believe that an ailment is healed when the sore spots of the sole are treated and removed by massage. Based on this theory, some companies also manufacture shoe liners with pressure points to stimulate the soles of the feet to promote better health. Some therapists claim that with reflexology they can cure aches and pains like migraine headaches and sinus problems, by massaging the correct reflex points on the foot. Some also claim to cure hormonal imbalances, breathing disorders, digestive problems, back problem, circulatory problems and even tension and stress problems.
The massage starts with the patients feet soaked in a dark-colored solution of hot water and Chinese herbs, also known as a foot bath, for about ten minutes. The message therapist then use medicated cream to moisturize the foot and provide lubrication, with the knuckles on the therapists hand providing a hard and smooth implement for the massage. Foot therapists believe that painful spots in the foot actually reflects the illness of the part of the body that the spot is associated with, and therefore the practitioner rubs and massages the painful spots to break down rough spots and accumulated crystals to increase circulation.
Reflexology is often combined with other therapies and practices, such as acupressure, yoga, and tai chi, which involve not just the feet but also the hands and other body parts or zones. Although foot massage is believed to break down crystalline deposits, remove blockages in the nerves, improve blood supply and aid detoxification, not much research in this area has been carried out to confirm its benefits.