Running is an intensive cardiovascular workout that affects the body as a whole. In addition to the muscular and respiratory systems, it impacts the circulatory, endocrine, integumentary and lymphatic systems. And even though the entire body is in motion when running, the primary impact is definitely on the feet. In fact, studies show that the force exerted on the feet while running is equivalent to ten times the body weight. For a runner weighing 130 pounds that’s 1300 pounds of force that the feet are absorbing with every stride! Over time, runners’ feet start to build stiffness, joint pain and lactic acid which can result in conditions such as plantar fasciitis, neuroma, or tendonitis. Although these can be treated conventionally with surgery and other medical procedures, there are less invasive alternative treatment options, including reflexology.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is the use of the thumb and fingers to apply pressure to specific points on the feet (and hands) to stimulate the nerve endings that correspond to the different systems of the body, which in turn helps to relax and balance them, and promote healing and overall health.
How can reflexology benefit runners?
Reflexology is more than just a relaxing massage for the feet. The foot contains about 7,800 nerves, and each one corresponds to a different part of the body. In addition to its relaxing benefits through nerve stimulation, reflexology treatment increases the flow of energy which encourages the body’s natural healing abilities. So, it addresses the invisible imbalances throughout the entire body, not just the obvious pain and discomfort in the feet. This is especially helpful to runners, as it has a positive affect on the body as a whole.
More specifically, the benefits of reflexology can include:
- Easing pain and reducing inflammation
- Better endurance and stamina
- Boosts the immune system and the body’s ability to heal and recover faster
- Reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Promotion of better sleep
- Improved blood circulation promoting oxygen supply and removing toxins
Fun Fact: One of these toxins is lactic acid, and as any runner knows a build-up of lactic acid is what causes muscle soreness and reduces performance. Studies done at Monash University in Australia, a country known for its active lifestyle, show that reflexology can remove lactic acid from the legs four times faster than a regular massage.
Are there any alternatives to a reflexology treatment?
Either in between treatments or if accessing a reflexologist isn’t practical, there are other options that can provide some of the benefits. Self-massage with foam rollers and other tools like tennis or therapy balls can help, as can a category of footwear called “recovery sandals.” For example, PR SOLES® Recovery Sandals and Flip Flops by Gone For A Run® feature an inner sole that mimics reflexology. Similar to the reflexologist pressing on the feet, the ACUPOINT® soles apply pressure to the points of the feet that stimulate the nerves throughout the body and lead to self-healing. One runner commented that:
PR SOLES® Recovery Sandal Testimonial
“I finished a marathon yesterday and have not taken these PR SOLES® Recovery Sandals off of my feet. I put them in my bag to put on immediately after running. I put them on within 10 minutes of finishing, have worn them around the house and on my walks since yesterday morning. I have been suffering from plantar fasciitis for 10 months. I have run 2 other marathons with this injury but with these sandals on, I don't feel any pain at all.”
In sum, the benefits of reflexology can improve overall health and performance as well as aid a quick recovery – something every athlete will appreciate. And if going for a reflexology treatment isn’t on the schedule, many runners find that simply by walking in their PR SOLES® Recovery Sandals they receive some of the same benefits as a visit to the reflexologist.