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Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

You’ve Heard of Carpal Tunnel, But …

Tarsal-tunnel.001what about carpal tunnel of the foot?

Known as tarsal tunnel syndrome, this condition refers to neuropathy (nerve disorder) of the tibial nerve as it runs under the flexor retinaculum at the medial ankle.

Symptoms sound similar to that of its cousin, carpal tunnel syndrome, and include:


  • sharp pain
  • paresthesia (tingling, burning, pricking, or numbness) radiating up into the lower leg and/or to the hallux and first three digits
  • weakness in plantar flexion of the toes
  • swelling
  • hot and cold sensations
  • gait abnormality (over-pronation or limp)

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by any of the following:

  • physical trauma to the tibial nerve
  • compression on the nerve from a lipoma, bone or cyst
  • systemic diseases (diabetes, HIV, hypothyroidism)
  • medications
  • impingement along the S1 nerve root

Pain worsens and spreads with standing for long periods of time.

As with many other situations of chronic foot pain, misdiagnosis is easy if one is relying only on a verbal description of symptoms. Fortunately, there is an easy and simple assessment that can rule out other disorders.

Tinel Test

In a seated position, with the foot of the leg in question placed across the thigh of the other in the classic tailor’s position, firmly tap repeatedly under the medial malleolus (where reflexology points are for the lower back muscles). A positive Tinel test will produce sharp pain, pointing towards a likely case of tarsal tunnel syndrome.


The common medical approach to this condition is either steroid injections to reduce pain and swelling or surgery.

Tibial nerve decompression surgery involves making an incision at the ankle and then cutting the ligaments surrounding the tibial nerve, so as to relieve the pressure on the nerve.

Recovery depends on the severity of the case and the condition. Some people recover, after two or three weeks of immobilization, with no loss of motion in their feet or ankles; some never recover full sensation.

I like it when I can offer a non-invasive approach to try out before resorting to surgery. In the case of tarsal tunnel syndrome there is a manual procedure (accompanied by homework) that is very successful at relieving the symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Manual therapy

It involves a session combining reflexology to the reflexes of the low back muscles, lumbar spine, sciatic nerve, hip, thigh and knee reflexes, followed by specific manual techniques applied to the feet and lower legs to release impingement along the S1nerve root.

In the How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshops, participants learn the above protocol (also effective for plantar fasciosis and peripheral neuropathy) and how to help people dealing with an additional 18 other foot ailments.

I hope to see you at one of these events! So far, I’m scheduled to be in Gainesville, Florida, Vancouver, British Columbia, Fargo, North Dakota, Seattle, Washington and Lindsay, Ontario to give this workshop.


Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

New Year’s Affirmations

don’t work.

That’s because most people just don’t understand how affirmations and the law of attraction work.

It seems that every January we see affirmations posted everywhere by well-meaning, sometimes frustrated, people hoping to make big changes in their lives. I thought I would throw in my two cents!

If, for example, you are wanting to increase your income or lose weight, sitting in front of the mirror every morning reciting something like, “I now earn $5000 (or whatever amount) a month” or “I am healthy and slim” just won’t work. Your psyche knows it’s a lie.

Your subconscious mind runs the show – not your conscious mind – and your subconscious mind knows what the truth is.

If you affirm that, “My income will increase in 2015” or “I will reach my desired weight in 60 days” you have just confirmed the current lack in your life (income/desired weight) and your affirmations will continue to manifest that lack. Your subconscious mind operates only in the present moment, so affirmations must be phrased in that way. Write in present tense. Future tense implies absence of. All you do is re-enforce the absence.

The other point to understand about affirmations is that their power really comes from the emotions that they stir. If your affirmations don’t get you excited and passionate enough to bring a big smile to your face and get your blood pumping, then nothing will happen. The law of attraction works on the principle of e-motion - energy in motion. It’s the powerful draw of emotions that delivers what our heart desires, not words.

Here are some examples of what to affirm instead:

“I am actively pursuing my dreams and enjoying the process of increasing my income while doing it.”

“I am in the process of building the successful reflexology practice that I envision.”

“My daily actions are moving me closer to the state of health and weight that I desire.”

Did you notice that the above phrases feel different to state than the ones at the beginning of this article? It’s because they are true; they’re not lies you’re telling yourself.

Now here’s how to say them:

  • Stand up!
  • Start your day with affirmations. Set the tone for your day’s experience.
  • Say out loud and with ENTHUSIASM.
  • Tap into the emotion that living your desired outcome sparks. You’ve got to FEEL it.

Here are some other opening phrases that will keep your affirmations in the present moment:

  • I love knowing that ….
  • I love how it feels when ….
  • I’ve decided…
  • More and more…
  • I’m excited at the thought of…
  • I love the idea of…
  • I love seeing myself…

Remember that the universe re-arranges itself to accommodate your picture of reality. The law of attraction is unfolding and orchestrating all that needs to happen to bring you your desires.[i]

Go forth, my friends, and make 2015 the year you create the life you want!


[i] Adapted from “Law of Attraction” by Michael. J. Losier

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

More Reasons to Eliminate Chronic Stress

Reflexology is acknowledged as a wonderful source of relaxation for people trapped in a stressful existence. If you yourself have ever felt stressed, you may recognize that the experience is often accompanied by irritability and grouchiness, forgetfulness and a lack of interest in doing anything. Researchers at the Brain Institute in Switzerland wondered why and recently set out to find the chemical link between chronic stress, loss of social skills and cognitive impairment.

The study revealed a cascade of events within the body beginning with a massive release of a molecule called glutamate. Glutamate acts on the brain receptors known as NMDA. NMDA receptors are essential to what is called “synaptic plasticity”, the chemical process that makes it possible for us to learn and retain information and experiences.

In turn, the NMDA receptors activate certain enzymes that damage yet another enzyme (Nectin-3). Once damaged, Nectin-3 becomes unable to modulate synaptic plasticity, which leads to loss of sociability, the avoidance of interpersonal interaction and impaired memory and/or understanding.

It seems that science is proving more and more how much damage stress does to the body. Let your community know it’s more than “just feeling stressed.” Explain to them that the chemical reactions taking place in their brains are responsible for the personality changes they are experiencing. Offer reflexology as a way to reduce stress. Offer lots of relaxation techniques and focus on the reflexes to the central nervous system, solar plexus and adrenal glands.



Monday, October 27th, 2014

Is Thai Reflexology Really Reflexology?

Fb imageI’m often asked the difference between Thai Foot Reflexology and the conventional form practiced in the west. The other day I got into a conversation on a Facebook reflexology group page I follow that took that conversation even deeper. The exchange started with a woman’s struggle (her word) around the term Thai Reflexology. She wondered how someone practicing this age-old therapy could call it “reflexology” when the techniques were so different from what she knew. Is Thai Reflexology really “reflexology”?

Her comments sent me back to an earlier time in my reflexology career. Back in 1983, I learned what is now referred to in the United States and Canada as “conventional” reflexology, based on the theories and techniques developed by Eunice Ingham, known fondly as the “grandmother” of modern reflexology. For more than 10 years, I just assumed that reflexologists all over the world practiced reflexology as I was taught, happily thumb and finger-walking their way around an ancient map of foot and hand reflexes corresponding to other parts of the body. And then…

I was exposed to how people taught reflexology in other countries: Dr. Tae-Woo in Korea, Father Josef in Taiwan, Lone Sorenson in Spain, Chris Stormer in Africa, Sharon Stathis in Australia. Ayurvedic reflexology, cranial-sacral reflexology, Thai reflexology, limbic reflexology – the list goes on and on.

As my horizons widened, I expanded my personal definition of reflexology to include all these wonderful approaches and beliefs. I came to the conclusion that any therapeutic work done on the feet or hands that has both the intention and the protocol to affect the body’s physiology was reflexology, no matter the technique.

One of the things that often attracts massage therapists to Thai Foot Reflexology is the short amount of time it requires to learn how to offer the session. It’s a relatively small investment of time and money to explore interest in offering footwork and to witness the acclaimed benefits with clients.

Unlike the conventional model of reflexology, which takes hundreds of hours of training, Thai Reflexology can be learned in only two days. The reason for this is because the session is delivered as a sequence of techniques followed in a particular order, whereas conventional reflexology requires a much deeper study of reflex locations and techniques and how to confidently customize sessions for individual client needs.

Thai Reflexology developed in a country that relied on an understanding of energy and how its status in the body defined wellness or dis-ease. Based on explicit trust of the nature of the human body to seek homeostasis, Thai Reflexology works solely to assist the body to return to equilibrium, as opposed to directing influence to specific organs.

Thai Reflexology is a good way to stand out in the crowd, whether you practice conventional reflexology or massage therapy. We have one more workshop this year and it’s Thai Foot Reflexology! Please join us.


Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Relieving Chronic Foot Pain

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t learn a lot about what causes debilitating foot pain when I first studied reflexology. I was forced to learn though as more and more people came to me – often as a last ditch effort – with their painful conditions. Over time I became known in my community for being able to help people, with plantar fasciitis and peripheral neuropathy specifically. Initially, my approach was simply reflexology. Sometimes that worked beautifully, but sometimes it didn’t; and that left me a little frustrated. . . . → Read More: Relieving Chronic Foot Pain

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