It may be that the plantar areas offered an easier option of contact, owing to the proximity and the convenience of using the thumbs, or perhaps is was because the reflex charts showed a sparsity of reflexes on that area (as many still do today)
Neglecting these areas does a great disservice to the potential of reflexology treatments and therefore, most importantly a disservice to patients.
Even today this plantar exclusivity persists. It is for this reason that I decided to write this blog article on the dorsal areas.
To be able to ‘work’ the dorsal areas effectively demands an entirely different approach than that of the plantar. This can present problems for many reflexologists who have not the experience of using the fingers effectively on the dorsal areas of the feet.
These are the considerations which are needed to effectively work the dorsal areas.
- No lubrication can be used
- The dorsal area has to be presented as a convex surface, rather than concave, which is achieved by the thumbs pushing the heads of the metatarsal joints forwards.
- The fingers have to have the necessary dexterity and sensitivity to make effective contact, and to be able to locate disturbed reflexes.
- The fingers have to be used to apply the appropriate contacts and in an effective manner to the disturbed reflexes.
- To be able to work in this way necessitates the therapist to sit above the feet and not low as is a common mistake.
For those not familiar with the term ‘disturbed reflexes’, I will explain briefly what this means.
Reflexology is commonly based on the misunderstanding that a painful reflex equals an imbalance in its corresponding part of the body. However this is not always a reliable indicator.
In my experience it is the existence of a ‘disturbed’ reflex area and not just the pain which indicates an imbalance. Put simply, a ‘disturbed’ reflex is where there is a difference to the feel of the area of the reflex in contrast to its surrounding tissue. A ‘disturbed’ reflex will display a variety of textures.
Having an understanding of the principle of 'disturbed' reflexes forms the very foundation of reflexology, without this, treatments will only be on a very superficial level.
The dorsal areas (when the appropriate techniques are used) can reveal an entirely different reflex-picture, provoking a greater response than those of the plantar. This is born out by the common occurrence of the receiver perceiving sensations from the contact on the foot to other areas of the body.
Some of the dorsal, 'disturbed' reflex areas are easy to detect, such as those of a lymphatic disturbance, or those involving breast tissue, while others are very subtle in their presentation. It is for this reason that the sensory connection between the finger tips and the brain of the therapist has to be cultivated, and this comes only through practice.
The general type of contact (once the 'disturbed' reflex has been detected) is static and applied with the finger tip. (I give up to 40 seconds, although generally it is around 20.)
Once familiarity with working in this way is attained, reflex assessment will have a far more accurate meaning and the treatment which includes the proper working of the dorsal surfaces will have a far greater therapeutic benefit.
Successful reflexology is about touch and the way that the touch is applied (which varies between each person). The finger’s thumbs and hands are conduits which receive reflex information to our perception.
Some of the disturbed reflexes are very subtle and will be missed unless the correct techniques of locating them are used.
With continued practice, the mind finger-tip relationship will develop to such a degree that another level of reflexology will be uncovered — one where the influence of the underlying electromagnetic circulation will be revealed.
It will be through this that the experience of being able to feel the ebb and flow of this circulation will lead to the understanding that no two treatments on patients can be the same — and each patient has to be treated according their unique energy pattern, which is also constantly changing — this is what it takes to work ‘in tune’ with patients.
Below are examples of contacting disturbed reflexes. Note how the dorsal surface of the foot is presented convexly, and the way the fingers are supported (the type of support is dependent on the type of disturbance present).
The subject of disturbed reflexes, their detection and interpretation is an area of focus at my A R T seminars.
Copyright Tony Porter© 2019