Monday, January 27, 2014

How to Introduce a Friend to Massage

(Photo courtesy of ABMP)


How to Introduce a Friend to Massage

Sharing the Benefits of Bodywork

When we experience something good, it's natural to want to tell everyone about it. Massage is no exception. Here are some ways to share your enthusiasm for massage therapy.

Gifting Massage: Gift certificates are a great way to share massages with the people in your life. Looking for the perfect birthday present? Purchase an hour gift certificate for them with your favorite massage therapist. Thanking someone for pet sitting? Reward them with a half-hour reflexology treatment. If it's your spouse or significant other that you're hoping to get interested in this healing therapy, perhaps a couple's massage, where two people receive massage in the same room, could be an anniversary gift.

Giving someone a gift certificate allows the recipient to experience massage without financially committing to something that they might not be sure about. After the initial visit, it is up to them to evaluate whether the experience makes them want to pay for another one.

Outline the Benefits Most people are aware that massage is effective at relieving stress and promoting relaxation, but there are myriad benefits you can highlight depending on your audience. For those who suffer from low-back pain, a study by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle has shown that massage is more effective than medication at reducing pain. Some massage therapists provide specialized sport massage, something that might appeal to your golfing buddy who needs to loosen up his swing and increase his range of motion.

In addition to helping people reduce pain or cope with physical injuries, the supportive touch of a massage therapist can be a powerful positive encounter during times of emotional distress. If someone in your life is dealing with grief or loss, you might recommend massage as a way for them to relax and be tended to without having to actively share their feelings, a welcome relief for many people.

Here are just some of the positives that massage and bodywork can provide. You can tailor your "pitch" to your audience by focusing on those specific to their situation:

--Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
--Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow--the body's natural defense system.
--Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
--Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
--Improve the condition of the body's largest organ--the skin.
--Increase joint flexibility.
--Lessen depression and anxiety.
--Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
--Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
--Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
--Reduce spasms and cramping.
--Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
--Release endorphins--amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
--Relieve migraine pain.

Take Baby Steps: If the person you are trying to introduce is intrigued by massage but reluctant to dive in headfirst, there are several ways to encourage them to stick a toe in the water. Many massage therapists offer chair massage in smaller time increments than a typical one-hour appointment. This is an ideal way for a person to experience the benefits of touch without having to worry about undressing or being overwhelmed by a full session.

Consider inviting your "recruit" to meet your massage therapist before your next session. Most therapists would be happy to give a potential client a brief tour and talk with them about the process of receiving a massage. For many people, being able to put a face to the person who is going to be touching them will calm some of their fears of the unknown.

For those who need more specific information about massage, you can direct them to, a public education site provided by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP). On the site they will find an introduction to massage and its benefits, information on what to expect from a session, and a glossary of terms and techniques to help them understand massage lingo. There is also an archive of articles from Massage & Bodywork magazine to help the potential client answer any questions they might have before taking the plunge.

Be a Billboard: Friends and family are more likely to follow your lead if you show them that you enjoy, and benefit from, receiving massage. If you have a regular routine and are feeling good, when you recommend bodywork to others it will be more influential. Whether it's increased range of motion, a sunnier disposition, or an improvement in posture, what you've gotten out of massage will be the best advertisement you can show them.

If, after all of your encouragement, they are still reluctant, you need to respect their feelings. Not everyone is ready for the hands-on experience of massage therapy, and some may even have some serious personal issues about touch. If you allow them to come to massage and bodywork on their own terms, they are more likely to be open to the safe, comforting, professional touch that the massage therapist provides.
Article courtesy of ABMP

Monday, January 20, 2014

Stretch Out

(Photo courtesy of ABMP)


Stretch Out


A few precautions can prevent future pain


Kelli Crosby

You brush your teeth daily because you don't want cavities or gum disease, right? Well, what do you do on a daily basis to prevent tension in your neck? Brushing your teeth offers you preventive dental care, but what if you could learn to be preventive with the rest of your body?

We all have bad daily habits we don't even notice until something starts to hurt. These bad habits are the root cause of many painful conditions. To help prevent pain, however, we can turn these bad habits into good habits that can be worked into our daily routine. Here is some general advice that can apply to almost every part of daily living.

Don't Slouch. Slouching puts strain on your neck and can give you a headache. Your head weighs roughly 10 pounds-about as much as a bowling ball. Your spine is designed to balance that bowling ball when you're in an upright posture. If you slouch, your muscles have to do more work to hold your head up, which makes your muscles tight and angry.

Sit Up Straight. Sit in a chair with your hands on your hips. Slouch. Feel how your hips roll back (if you're wearing jeans, you'll be sitting on your pockets). Now sit up straight by moving your pelvis forward and centering your weight over your pelvis and off your buttocks.

Sleep on Your Back or Side. Sleeping on your stomach makes you twist your neck and body in order to breathe. This twisted position is terrible for your spine, especially for prolonged periods during sleep. Check your pillow and make sure it has a thickness that will support your neck in a position neutral to the rest of your spine. Try a memory-foam contour pillow, especially if you are a side sleeper.

Bend with a Straight Spine. Bending over with a curved back puts pressure on your disc material and strains the spine. The pressure created during incorrect bending can cause the discs to bulge and put pressure on spinal nerves. Your back was not made to lower and raise your body-that's what your buttocks, hips, and knees are for.

Stand with your knees shoulder-width apart and pretend you are going to lift a 50-pound box off the floor. If you are bending your knees and hips and using your legs to lower and raise your body weight, you are lifting correctly. Now, use the same technique to pick your shoes up off the floor. Think about a squatting movement when you need to lean forward, too-such as while washing your face in the sink. Let your hips and knees do the work.

Take Regular Stretch Breaks. The muscles in your arms and hands get tight when you grip or pull. The muscles in your neck and shoulders get tight when you reach forward or away from your body. Give these muscles a break with a simple stretch.

It only takes 10 seconds to lengthen the tight tissue, which will take pressure off your joints and prevent chronic conditions like tendinitis and bursitis. Watch for opportunities to work in a brief stretch.

Undo Yourself. Evaluate the position of your body during your daily activities and make sure you "undo" that position during the day. There is no way to teach a stretch for every single activity you do, but if you take the time to reverse the position of the joint and stretch in the opposite direction, you will lengthen tight tissue and reduce repetitive strain on joints.

Tips to Save Your Body Replacing bad habits with good ones takes time and thought, but the effort is well worth it. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on track.

-- If you keep waking up on your stomach, wear a pair of gym shorts to bed and put a golf ball in each pocket. When you roll onto your stomach, the golf balls will wake you up and you can return to your back or side.

-- When unloading the dishwasher and getting laundry out of the machine, pose like a tennis player waiting for a serve. The knees are over your toes (but not beyond the toes), buttocks are backward, and shoulders are forward.

-- Don't try to carve out 30 minutes daily for a stretching routine. If you stretch regularly throughout the day, you will be more effective at keeping tissue loose. Remember, it only takes 10 seconds to stretch a muscle-so find those seconds during your day and make the most of them.

-- Think about stretching the same way you think about hydration. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water; by then you're already dehydrated. If you wait until something hurts before you stretch, you could develop chronic tension that can lead to everything from a headache to tendinitis.

A daily stretching routine will help prevent future issues and address current ones. Don't wait until it's a problem. Start stretching today and, little by little, your body will thank you.

Kelli Crosby is the author of How to Think Like a Physical Therapist in Your Everyday Life. She graduated in 1999 from the University of North Florida and completed her specialty certification in orthopedic manipulative therapy in 2006.
Article courtesy of ABMP

Monday, January 13, 2014

Natural vs. Organic Products

(Photo courtesy of ABMP)

Natural vs. Organic Products

What's the difference--and how can you tell?

Kathleen Neves

Now, more than ever, people are questioning what is being put into the skin care products they use. With terms such as "natural" and "organic" being used on all kinds of packaging, it's important to know not only what these terms really mean, but how they affect the way a product is labeled, the way ingredients are listed on the packaging, and the overall effectiveness of the product.

Terms Defined
What exactly does it mean when a product is labeled "natural" or "organic"? In the broadest sense, a natural product is something that originated from a plant or animal source, and an organic product is a natural product that was grown without the use of artificial fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Many ingredients used in beauty, makeup, and skin care products are already derived from plant sources, but exact definitions vary.

In the world of skin care, the biggest difference between products labeled "natural" and "organic" is the amount of regulation imposed by the government. The US government does not regulate natural skin care products, which means anything can be labeled or described as natural, regardless of what it contains or how it was produced. Organic products, however, are heavily regulated by the government.

Organic Isn't Easy
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets strict regulations for organic products: how ingredients must be grown and processed; where the word organic can appear on the product label; and how the label may be presented on the actual product. Growers must adhere to a special system of farming that maintains and replenishes the soil fertility without the use of toxic materials such as pesticides or fertilizers. Third-party certifiers appointed by the USDA enforce these regulations with annual inspections of organic farms and processing facilities.

The National Organic Program (NOP) is a government agency that works with the USDA to help regulate the use of organic ingredients in skin care products, and to make sure these types of products are correctly labeled. There are four labeling categories for certified organic products:

- 100 Percent Organic
Products that have been certified by the government as containing 100 percent organic ingredients. The product is permitted to display the USDA Organic label on the front of the packaging.

- Organic
Products that contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. They are also permitted to bear the USDA Organic label on the front of their packaging.

- Made With Organic Ingredients
Only 70 percent of ingredients need to be organic for a product to be certified in this category. These products cannot use the USDA Organic label, but are allowed to have descriptive text on the product label to say it is made with organic ingredients.

- Less Than 70 Percent Organic Ingredients
These products cannot use the USDA Organic label, and the only place where the word "organic" can be used on the product's packaging is in the ingredient list on the back of the product.

What's Natural? The main reason why the federal government doesn't regulate natural skin care products is because there is no formal definition of what natural means within the beauty industry. Different brands may use the word in completely different ways. This creates confusion and frustration for the consumer.

In May 2008, the Natural Products Association (NPA), along with brands such as Burt's Bees, JR Watkins, and Yes To Carrots, created the Natural Standard for Personal Care Products. This voluntary standard is the closest thing the beauty industry has to a formal definition of natural. It consists of the following four components:

- Natural. At least 95 percent of the ingredients in the product must be formulated without any artificial ingredients, and minimally processed.
- Safety. The product must be completely void of any ingredients deemed harmful to human health by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Responsibility. The product cannot have been used in any sort of animal testing.
- Sustainability. The product, its ingredients, and its packaging must be environmentally friendly. Ingredients should be biodegradable, if possible. The product's packaging should be made up of recycled materials, or at least be easy for the consumer to recycle.

To use the NPA Natural Seal on its label, a product must meet all four components, and its manufacturer must disclose all ingredient information, fully and accurately. The NPA Natural Seal is the closest equivalent for natural products to the USDA Organic label for organic products, but it is a voluntary standard that is neither required, nor endorsed, by the federal government.

While it's important to know the difference between natural and organic, it's no less important to make sure you're using the most suitable product. Just because a product is labeled "natural" or "organic" doesn't necessarily mean that it will be the best choice for your skin type, concerns, and conditions.

Kathleen Neves is a licensed esthetician, makeup artist, and beauty blogger based in San Francisco.
Article courtesy of ABMP

Monday, January 6, 2014

Children and Massage

(Photo courtesy of ABMP)

Children and Massage

A Powerful Combination

Shirley Vanderbilt


"Every child, no matter the age, should be massaged at bedtime on a regular basis." So says Tiffany Field, PhD, of the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, Florida. Field and her associates at TRI have worked diligently over the past two decades proving the benefits of massage for children. But this is not a new concept. Infant massage has long been a common practice in families of Eastern and African cultures. Many indigenous tribes use some form of bodywork to soothe, relax, and heal their little ones, sometimes including scented oils and herbal remedies as part of the experience. With our modern technology and hurried lives, we frequently find ourselves lacking in quality family time and touching each other less. The ancient practice of massage can serve to reaffirm a close bond with our children, and to convey a comforting sense of security and trust.

Essential Touch: Touch is the first sense to develop in humans. It is essential to our health and well-being. Babies have been known to fail to thrive and even die without an adequate amount of physical contact. Adults, as well, can become depressed and ill if they are isolated from this most basic of human needs. Children who learn healthy views of touch and are provided with positive tactile experience by their caregivers are more likely to grow up to be adults with healthy self-esteem, a sense of appropriate boundaries, and long-lasting intimate relationships.

TRI researcher Maria Hernandez-Reif, PhD, says she regularly gives massage to her own daughter. When asked if other parents should do the same, she says, "Absolutely, a daily massage at least. That's what the studies show. Regardless of whether it's an infant, a child with illness, a preschooler, pregnant women, or the elderly--no matter who we studied, we have found that massage benefits all age groups and individuals of different conditions."

Massage for Stress: Massage is a wonderful stress-buster for children. "Oftentimes, when we think about stress," Hernandez-Reif says, "we think it's just an adult condition--only adults have stress. But if you think about it, even young infants and children are prone to stress." A young child starting school who is unfamiliar with the area or children in the class will experience stress. Family illness or financial problems, divorce, and even vacations can produce emotional strain.

Hernandez-Reif notes that one of the consistent findings in studies of the benefits of massage therapy is a reduction in stress and stress hormone levels: "There is a relationship between stress and the immune system. If stress hormones are chronically elevated, the [hormone] cortisol will destroy the healthy immune cells that fight viruses and tumors and keep the immune system healthy. If you can reverse that, you not only reduce stress but also reduce stress hormones, allowing the immune system to bounce back and do its job, which is to heal the body and keep it healthy."

As for children's behavioral response to massage, she says, "They are happier and in a better mood. We have observed they appear more relaxed, calm and oftentimes fall asleep during massage." If it's the child's first massage, they may squirm a bit because they are not familiar with this type of touch. Due to the discomfort and pain of medical procedures inflicted on them, infants and especially premature babies may have developed a negative association with touch. Given this new, positive experience they relax and their bodies quiet down.

Massaging a Child: With infants, a gentle gliding stroke is applied to the body, but as the child grows older, the massage may become more sophisticated to include work on the feet, fingers, and toes, and use of more extensive types of strokes and techniques. "Teens are a little different," Hernandez-Reif says. "With young children, we can train the mother or parent to do massage for a daily dose. Teens, however, don't seem to like their parents giving them massage. They respond better to a massage therapist." TRI's guideline of 15- to 20-minute sessions is a good rule to follow at home. Longer sessions can be overstimulating or even uncomfortable for a younger child with a short attention span.

One of the best ways to give your baby safe, positive messages about touch is to give her massage on a regular basis. Early infant massage may stimulate the developing nervous system and brain, and memory of that positive touch may then be permanently registered in the body cells. By improving circulation, respiration, digestion, and elimination, massage promotes a sense of comfort in your baby and makes her less prone to colic. As the baby grows, the stroking of massage prepares the body for sitting, standing, and walking by promoting strength, motor coordination, and self-confidence. Infant massage is becoming very popular with new parents and a number of resources are now available to get you started. In addition to books and videos, you can find certified infant massage therapy instructors in local private practice and at hospitals and clinics specializing in holistic medicine.

Once massage is established as a family routine, it can benefit your child throughout his growing years. Preschoolers have shown better performance on tests of their intellectual and manual skills after a 15-minute massage. They also slept better during naps, were less likely to be overactive, and had better behavior ratings. For teens struggling with the growing pains of adolescence, massage helps to balance unstable hormones and can relieve anxiety by producing a state of relaxation. A supportive relationship with a massage therapist who gives them safe, unconditional touch can also increase their feelings of self-acceptance and self-confidence during those trying years.

Article courtesy of ABMP

Monday, December 30, 2013

Healing Touch for Animals

(Beloved Roxanne)

Healing Touch for Animals


Energy Work for Our Companions

Lara Evans Bracciante

"I didn't know other people couldn't see energy until I was 30 years old," says Carol Komitor, creator of Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) and the Komitor Healing Method. This extraordinary ability to see energy fields has allowed her to help many people and pets, including Dakota, the 19-year-old quarter horse she's been working on this morning. "He had some blockages in his ankle. I used the laser technique to get things flowing again," Komitor says.

A veterinary technician turned massage therapist/Reiki Master/Healing Touch (for people) practitioner, Komitor's work with animals was a natural evolution. Because of her 13 years of experience as a vet tech, Komitor's Healing Touch colleagues routinely sent the animal inquiries her way. "The chakra system is essentially the same in animals as it is in humans," she says, "but working with animal energy is different, because their energy fields are much bigger than ours, and they're more receptive. It's really important to blend our energy with theirs, so they are at ease."

The inquiries became common enough that Komitor decided to develop a course to address the animal aspect of Healing Touch. "I originally thought it would be a couple of classes here in Denver," she says. "It's turned out to be an international program with multilevel certifications."

Today, instructors based across the United States and Canada travel to various cities worldwide presenting HTA weekend workshops to participants eager to connect with their animals. HTA is used to treat behavioral and physiological issues in companion pets and zoo animals. Those who have witnessed its effects are sold.

What is HTA?This work on animals is a natural extension of Healing Touch (HT) for people, a method being used more frequently in hospitals and mainstream medical settings throughout the country. HT uses specific techniques to balance the chakra energies in and around the body, supporting the body in healing itself on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.

Before the work can really begin, Komitor explains that the facilitator must be grounded and clear, setting an atmosphere of energy presence. This taps you into the "unlimited energy outside of yourself," she says.

During a session, the facilitator uses one of several HTA techniques to specifically address a variety of issues. For example, the bridging technique is often used for animals that are scattered or fragmented due to illness, injury, or personality disorder. That technique balances and clears the energy field, bringing energetic wholeness into place. Komitor says HTA therapists have had great success working through everything from an animal's anxiety during thunderstorms to behavior issues, like tearing up the furniture.

What Do the Animals Think? During HTA techniques, animals ease into a relaxed, receptive state. Even in close quarters with a room full of strangers, all the canines involved in a weekend HTA course relaxed calmly at their owners' feet within minutes. When dogs receive an individual treatment, they yawn and maneuver to get more comfortable. Horses drop their heads and ears and cock a hind foot as if pondering sleep. Sometimes their lips quiver as if they were being tickled. Observers all note the obvious reactions, all positive, when the pets receive a treatment.

For the skeptics, Komitor gives a scientific premise to the healing benefits of HTA. All of the techniques create a relaxation response in animals, she says, and calming the animal initiates physiology that supports the immune system. "When an animal relaxes, the body releases chemicals in the brain, endorphins, that then allow the physical structure of the body to relax even more," Komitor says. "So muscles relax, the body has an ease with itself. And with relaxation, circulation increases, which accelerates blood flow and brings in oxygen, nutrients, adequate hormones, and enzymes to help with rejuvenation of the cells. It also boosts the immune system."

While this relaxation response is no small thing, those who feel the energy and see its effects say something more is going on here. Komitor concedes: "Increased relaxation allows a surrendering of the body on all levels: spiritual, mental, and physical. This allows an environment that can connect with the self, with universe, with God, with nature, and creates wholeness."

Making the ConnectionKomitor believes animals may be particularly receptive to energetic benefits from their caring owners due to their ability to love unconditionally, without the type of psychic baggage humans carry in their electromagnetic fields. To this end, HTA has yet another side effect that all facilitators--those doing the work--are quick to mention: The bond that develops between a human and the animal after working the techniques is especially profound.

Komitor also speaks to this. "Animals' instincts give them an awareness that we've long forgotten," she says. "If we attune to them and how they're relating to us, the connection that's meant to happen between the animal kingdom and humans is met. I've seen we are one, that all things in the universe are energy, just different molecular structures. And if we learn to relate as animals relate, we'd see we could connect."
Article courtesy of ABMP

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Gift of Massage is a Compassionate Gift.

The Gift Of Massage Is A Compassionate Gift.
Charity Parrott, LMT
I once heard that people need eight hugs a day, just to stay healthy! I shared that little tidbit of information with my oldest daughter, who smiled. I sensed that she already understood that and was feeling validated but the information. She often finds me in the house and tells me how many hugs she has received thus far in the day. It is her way of asking for a hug. Even for a child, it is sometimes difficult to simple ask for what we need.
Our basic human needs include touch. We need a certain amount of positive touch for our bodies and minds to be healthy and to thrive. Do you know someone who might be deprived of positive touch? I bet we all do, if we think about it.
As we grow older, human touch becomes more complicated. If we have a partner, we may give and receive the gift of human touch on a daily basis, however,  many people with and without partners, go without the gift of positive touch.
Some groups of people are at an even greater risk of not receiving positive human touch. Elderly people, especially those that who live alone, are at a greater risk of not receiving positive touch. Instead of positive touch, they may received forms of touch that are perceived by the mind and body as less than positive. This includes forms of touch that are necessary for medical procedures, injections and medical testing.
Massage Therapy uses positive touch to facilitate relaxation and healing in the body. Massage increases circulation, which helps support the body by pumping oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. Massage also supports emotional health. It has been shown to decrease anxiety while also improving concentration and the quality of sleep. 
Massage Therapy may be the perfect solution to address these issues created by the lack of positive touch. Giving the gift of massage therapy to someone you know is a caring choice. You will be giving them more than just relaxation. You will be supporting their physical and emotional health and well being.
Balanced Life Massage Therapy, located at 2 Narrows Road, Westminster, MA, has gift certificates available for purchase. Our grand opening will take place on January 2, 2013. You may purchase gift certificates and schedule appointments today!
 Be one of the first to experience our warm, inviting environment and therapeutic massage services. We look forward to serving you soon.

Incorporating Reflexology into Your Life

(Photo courtesy of ABMP)

Incorporating Reflexology into Your Life

Footprints for Health


You walk on them all day, but did you know your feet do more than carry you from one place to the next? They also have a unique connection to balanced health and well-being. In a form of bodywork known as reflexology, the feet are said to contain reflex areas that mirror and connect to all parts of the body--and pressure on these points can actually influence your state of health.

What is Reflexology: The roots of reflexology draw, in part, from the ancient healing art of foot massage, practiced the world over, from Asian and Egyptian civilizations to tribal communities of the Americas. Early archaeological digs have revealed statues of Buddha in China and Japan, and Vishnu (a Hindu god) in India, depicting markings of specific areas on the feet. But it has only been within the last century that this work has established a foothold, so to speak, in Western practice.

As we know it today, reflexology is viewed primarily as a stress reduction or relaxation technique. Using the thumb, finger, and hand, gentle pressure is applied to reflex areas of the feet in order to decrease stress and bring the body into equilibrium. While some reflexologists also apply treatment to the hands and ears, the foot--with its greater quantity of sensitive nerve endings--is considered the most amenable to this approach.

Although simplistic in application, the effects of the treatment can be profound. Through activation of nerve receptors in the hands and feet, new messages flood into the body system, changing its tempo and tone. In essence, the foot or hand becomes a conduit for sharing information throughout the body. Function in the connecting area is improved and, at the same time, the body experiences overall relaxation and benefits to the circulation and elimination systems. When the body's systems are at optimal functioning, self-healing is enhanced.

In this sense, reflexology is not a medical treatment for specific symptoms or diseases, but rather a way to facilitate the body's inherent healing power. Therefore, it stands to reason that paying attention to your feet can also be a great preventive measure and one easily incorporated into a daily routine.

How and why reflexology works the way it does is still up for debate. Some say it involves communication through the nervous system; other theories point to opening blockages of chi, or vital energy, in the body. Regardless, scientific studies have documented its benefit for a variety of ailments, ranging from acute disorders to chronic diseases. The majority of reflexology research has come from China where the technique is commonly used in hospitals and homes for both health maintenance, and as adjunct to medical care. Some of the positive findings include reduction of pain, improvement in circulation, release of tension, and improved effectiveness of medication, as well as benefits for diabetes and headaches.

Fancy FootworkKevin Kunz, author of several reflexology books and codirector of the Reflexology Research Project, emphasizes the importance of making reflexology a part of your life. Consistency is key if you expect results, and foot homework is a low-cost, efficient way to extend the benefits of weekly sessions with your reflexologist. The techniques can be practiced even while you're busy doing something else. You can purchase devices such as foot rollers for use under the desk, but even inexpensive homemade devices will do, Kunz says. "You can put a golf ball in a sock, tie it up, and you have a roller. Anything to cause stimulation has a beneficial effect."

Reflexology is also a safe and effective technique for infants and children, soothing their emotions and promoting sleep. Naturally available and noninvasive, this approach can enhance communication between parent and child and aid in developing the child's physical awareness.

Feedback and Stimulation According to Kunz, lack of stimulation for the feet is a major problem in our society. We box our feet in shoes and forbid them to traipse the natural environment. Some American feet never even see sunlight, much less travel naked on a forest floor. "The feet carry the body, in more ways than one," Kunz says. "Constant feedback from the feet is needed in order for the body to make the proper responses." There is no challenge for the foot in walking on flat surfaces. Feet crave stimulation, and they were built for a variety of surfaces.

The Japanese, as well as Europeans, have addressed this basic need by creating health pathways to stimulate every part of the foot. "This comes from taki fumi," Kunz says, "to step upon bamboo. Here we call them stroll pathways. The idea is that you stroll along, and as you do, you are strengthening the system. It's great exercise and gives you more endurance." In Asia, pathways frequently feature cobblestones for stimulation, but a sandy beach or rocky hiking trail can provide variation underfoot.

Whatever path you choose, get off the pavement, free your feet, and let them do their thing. "Over thousands of years," Kunz says, "every culture has discovered it in some shape or form. The foot is it."
Article courtesy of ABMP