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Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Healing the Knee Without Surgery

An Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear, one of the most common knee injuries to occur, regularly lands people in the surgical theatre. I recently read the abstract on a five-month study substituting manual therapy for surgical treatment. The study resulted in complete restitution of the ACL. Very exciting and promising to people who prefer to avoid the knife.

But first, let me explain what we are referring to when we say ACL.

Anatomy of the Knee

Knee ligamentsThe knee joint is the result of three bones meeting: the femur (your thigh bone), the “shinbone” (the tibia-the larger of the two bones in your lower leg) and the kneecap (patella).

Ligaments are fibrous rope-like connective tissue bands that connect bone to bone. Their job is to stabilize the bones in place, so there is not much give-and-take with ligaments.

There are four primary ligaments in your knee:

  • Collateral Ligaments. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside side of your knee; the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is on the outside. Their job is to control and protect the sideways motion of your knees.
  • Cruciate Ligaments – live inside the knee joint, crossing one another to form an “X”. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is in front, connecting the patella to the tibia; the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), in the back. They control the back and forth motion of your knee. The ACL also prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur and provides rotational stability to the knee.

Ligament Damage

Injuries to ligaments are called sprains and are graded according to severity.

  • Grade 1 Sprain. Mild damage to the ligament. It’s been stretched, but is still able to stabilize the knee joint.
  • Grade 2 Sprain. The ligament has been stretched to the point where it is now loose. This is sometimes referred to as a partial tear.
  • Grade 3 Sprain. The ligament has been torn in two. The joint is unstable. This is known as a complete tear.

ACL Injuries

High demand sports like soccer, football, running or basketball are more likely to incur sprains or tears in the ACL. Unfortunately for women, our incidence of ACL injuries is higher than that of men. Sorry.

Damage to these important ligaments can happen in many ways:

  • Changing direction rapidly
  • Stopping suddenly
  • Slowing down when running
  • Landing from a jump incorrectly
  • Direct collision


People often report hearing a “popping” noise from the knee and a sense of the knee giving out from under them. Other symptoms include pain with swelling, loss of full range of motion and/or discomfort when walking.

The medical profession treats ACL damage in a number of ways: anti-inflammatory medications, knee brace, physical therapy and surgery.

Until reading the study I referenced in the opening paragraph of this post, I was unaware of manual therapy being able to cure a grade 3 (total tear) in the ACL.

After reading it though, I was reminded of the numerous times I have given Thai Foot Reflexology to people with knee pain; how they felt so much better afterwards and could move around with less or no accompanying pain or restrictions in the knees.

I remember specifically one woman in particular. She had put off her inevitable knee replacement surgery for as long as she could and called me when she found herself restricted to her bed, unable to walk at all. She was still weeks away from her appointment and asked whether I might be able to help her. I replied honestly and said I did not know, but was willing to give Thai Foot Reflexology a try, if she was.

I explained that in the session I would work on her feet, lower legs and knees, with the intent to move stagnant energy trapped within the sen lines (energy pathways) of her body. I hoped that perhaps that might bring her some relief while she was waiting.

We set up the appointment. Since she could not travel, I went to her home. Since she wasn’t mobile, I did the session on her bed.

Following the session, she reported feeling very relaxed and in less pain. The big surprise came the next day though, when she called to say that she was able to get out of bed and walk (with the aid of a walker), something she had not been able to do for days.

Needless to say, we were both elated. I continued to give her Thai Foot Reflexology sessions twice/week until her surgery, and was thrilled that I had something to offer that brought some relief and hope to a fellow human being. I LOVE WHAT I DO!

Upcoming Thai Foot Reflexology trainings.  

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Happy Birthday Eunice!

EuniceEunice D. Ingham, affectionately known as the grandmother of foot reflexology in North America would be celebrating her 126th birthday today, were she still alive.

Eunice had a very unconventional upbringing – especially for a female – that likely helped shape the independence, strength and confidence that she displayed for a woman of her era. Her life and the legacy she bestowed to the world are not to be made light of; indeed, her contributions were significant.

In my mind, the three greatest gifts of Eunice Ingham were these:

  1. She separated the work on reflexes of the feet from Zone Therapy (a predecessor of reflexology that involved application of pressure throughout the entire body).
  2. She determined that alternating pressure to reflexes stimulated healing, rather than having a numbing, analgesic effect.
  3. In response to the medical profession’s rejection of reflexology (It was considered too time consuming, and thus not cost effective.), Eunice took reflexology to the general public and non-medical healthcare providers of the day (chiropractors, osteopaths, naturopaths, chiropodists, massage therapists and physiotherapists) – a decision that would ultimately be responsible for the widespread popularity and recognition of reflexology in the world today.

I had the pleasure a couple of years ago, while attending a Board meeting of the Reflexology Association of America, to visit one of Eunice Ingham’s homes. It was both thought and heart provoking to imagine her living her life’s work in that location. Hard to describe, but very moving for me. Without that woman’s work, my path in life would be very different; without her dedication and perseverance perhaps none of us today would be receiving the health-promoting benefits of reflexology.

If you are interested in knowing more about Eunice D. Ingham, Christine Issel has written a wonderful biography, entitled Eunice Ingham: A Biography – Her Life and Legacy of Reflexology. You may order it directly from the publisher. It’s a fascinating story of an American pioneer and trailblazer

And now for a little fun! First person to provide the correct answers to the following questions will be sent an autographed copy of Eunice D. Ingham’s biography by the author! Number your answers, one under each other, in the Comments below. Go!

  1. What does the “D” stand for in Eunice’s name?
  2. How old was Eunice when she passed?
  3. Eunice’s more permanent homes were in South Dakota, New York and Florida. True or False?
  4. Name the two books that Eunice published on reflexology.
  5. New Frontier Publishing released posthumously Stories the Feet are Telling, what was to be Eunice’s third book. True or False?
Saturday, February 21st, 2015

The Tension of Opposites – The Essence of Life

Yin/YangWhen teaching Thai Foot Reflexology, I am often asked why we start sessions on the left foot with women and on the right with men. I usually just give the simple explanation that in the Thai model the left side represents the feminine and the right, the masculine.


Here’s a little more detail:


In all the eastern practices, elements are seen as opposing forces. You are probably familiar with the Chinese model of yin/yang: night/day. Adjectives associated with yin are: cool, inside, receptive, quiet, female, soft, water, earth, dense, moon, dark, For yang: bright, warm, male, sun, outside, expressive, hard, loud, expansive, fire. Both are necessary for existence; you can’t know one side without the other.


In Ayurvedic medicine – from which Thai bodywork arose – these opposing rhythms are referred to as the Ida and Pingala energies. In part, they flow along the opposite sides of the spinal column, ending on the lateral edge of the fifth digit of both of the feet; the Pingala on the right, the Ida on the left. Hence, in Thai Foot Reflexology we begin on the left with a woman, and on the right with a man, so as to re-enforce the more dominant rhythm of the client.


Whereas in China energy lines are referred to as meridians, the energy conduits in Thai medicine are called sen. The two forces mentioned in the paragraph above are known as Sen Ittha and Sen Pinkhala. Sen Pinkhala, the Father energy, is metaphysically represented as electricity; Sen Ittha, the Mother energy, is represented as magnetic. These two forces interact together to activate the coiled energy, called Kundalini, at the base of the spine, and awaken our dormant, libidinal and spiritual forces.

When I first read Carl Jung’s statement “The tension of opposites is the very essence of life itself.” I had to smile. I thought first of human relationships; how opposite personalities seem to be attracted to one another and work out their differences often through tensional interactions. And certainly, according to Thai medicine, that statement would be true. The tension created by the dynamic interplay of Ittha and Pinkhala is what creates the harmony and balance required to live a healthy life. This homeostasis is one of the primary goals of Thai Foot Reflexology.

I hope you’ll join me this year to experience the effects of Thai Foot Reflexology yourself.



Saturday, February 14th, 2015

To Be or Not To Be – Certified, That Is

How do you know if you really want to be a certified reflexologist – or yoga instructor, or sports massage therapist, or aromatherapist, or whatever? After all, certification in any discipline requires commitment, money and time.

Here’s what I suggest to people trying to figure that out:


Take a weekend workshop in the subject in which you are interested. A couple of days of focused exposure will tell you a lot. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you still interested? Maybe even more?
  • Do you feel ready to challenge yourself both professionally and personally?
  • Do you respect the instructor teaching the material? Does the instructor demonstrate respect for you and your classmates?
  • Is the instructor approachable, open and knowledgeable about the subject matter and effective at conveying the material?

If the spark of is still there, and if we’re talking about reflexology, then ask yourself…

the BIG Questions!

What is my level of interest? What is my goal and intention? What do I plan to do with my newly gained knowledge and skills?

  • Is my interest to provide reflexology for relaxation purposes only?
  • Is my desire only to be able to give my loved ones reflexology sessions; no compensation involved?

No question about it, relaxation is the basis of health. If your desire is to provide the experience of deep restorative relaxation, then perhaps that weekend workshop will provide you with all that you need. Or…

  • Do you want your services to be able to support people battling disease?
  • Do you want to stand out in the crowd? Are you already a licensed professional wishing to add increased value and results to another form of manual therapy that you offer?
  • Do you want to practice reflexology solely? (Another great pun intended!)

In the Academy’s certification training, participants learn, in addition to relaxation protocols, how to customize therapeutic sessions to help support people struggling with specific physical and/or mental imbalances, using reflexology, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy and coaching skills.

Hope that helps you in making your decision!


2015 Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification program

(foot) Reflexology workshops

Reflexology for the Hands


Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Myth #4 About Reflexology

Myth #4 About Reflexology. Reflexology will destroy my thumbs. To that I will say, only if you are using your tools incorrectly. Remember Myth #1? . . . → Read More: Myth #4 About Reflexology

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