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Starting off on the right foot

Posted: January 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Lynn Tigar, of Lynn’s Reflexology in Newhall, points out the nerve endings found in the human foot on a plastic model.

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I was ready for 2012, but my body wasn’t.

My New Year’s Eve was spent sick in bed, victim of the latest mutant strain of flu floating around the office.

Though I rallied enough to work the following Monday, my sinuses were congested and I wasn’t quite feeling like myself. Over-the-counter meds masked the symptoms enough to get me through the day, but I didn’t feel truly like I turned a corner until I got my feet massaged on Wednesday at Lynn’s Reflexology in Newhall.

How was this possible? I know the leg bone is connected to the thigh bone, thanks to the childhood song, but how are my nasal passages connected to my toes?

“There are 7,300 nerve endings in each foot,” said Lynn Tigar, a certified reflexology practitioner. “They are connected to all of your systems, so reflexology can help with everything from opening your sinuses to relieving back pain or preventing neuropathy.”

Considered an alternative medicine in the west, reflexology was believed to have started in ancient Egypt, as archaeological drawings from that era indicated the practice. It soon spread in popularity to Asia, particularly in China and Japan.

Reflexology didn’t catch on in America until much later. Dr. William Fitzgerald, an eye, ear and nose specialist from Connecticut, first introduced the practice here in 1909.

A few decades later, in 1938, Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist, developed a system of reflex areas, which can include the feet, ears and hands.

A plastic foot with a map of the various nerve ending connections is on display at Tigar’s small, comfortable salon, which is located within the Healing Waters office.

She asks new clients a few questions about their physical status, though their feet will usually tell Tigar everything she needs to know.

“I can feel the different energy issues on a foot that’ll tell me that there’s pain somewhere in the body,” she said. “Reflexology is like a whole body massage from the inside out. If you have shoulder pain, I work on it from the foot.”

Tigar cleaned my feet first with a wipe, then wrapped the foot not being massaged in a towel to keep it warm. I was lounging on a comfortable full-length chair in the dimly lit room, a welcome break from the outside world.

As she massaged my feet, Tigar said she could feel my congestion and that it would be cleared before our hour-long session finished. That was a pretty bold statement, but I was certainly open to it. Tigar began to rub and knead my feet; it was very enjoyable, like a deep-tissue massage.

“I can feel the crunch of tension and energy-blockers. Uric acid deposits, or crystals, build up in our feet from standing; this helps break them up,” she said.

I could feel it, too, and was glad to say goodbye to the unhealthful intruders (especially since my family has a history of gout, which is a buildup of uric acid in the joints).

Tigar then added an exfoliating salt scrub to my soles and stroked, which was particularly relaxing.

This was odd for me. Usually, I don’t like people touching my feet because it’s ticklish, but Tigar never hit my ticklish spot, just all the right spots.

Sure enough, toward the end of the session, I could feel my nasal passages decompress and my head become clearer. My normal voice even came back. Prior, it had been a nasally mumble.

Most of Tigar’s clients come to her for more serious issues, such as plantar fasciitis, neuropathy or general foot pain.

Sessions are $60 an hour and, depending on a client’s needs, Tigar suggests receiving reflexology once a week to once a month.

“The horrible thing is that people don’t come to me until they have pain. Doing this will prevent pain in the first place,” she said. “But it’s never too late.”

As I left Tigar’s sanctum, for the first time in 2012, I felt truly ready to put my best foot forward.

That feeling carried over into the next morning.

Reflexology could become a healthful new resolution for me.

Lynn’s Reflexology at Healing Waters, 23504 Lyons Avenue, Suite 202, Newhall. For more information, call (818) 642-3830.

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