Covered In This Chapter
Movements And Other Reactions
The previous chapters covered how to read changes in the condition of the reflexes, such as altered skin tones, reduced lymph swelling, and relaxation in muscle tension. But besides this, many other visible reactions to our work can be seen during a treatment. Understanding why they are happening when they do, while not reflexology as such, is a valuable addition to our visual skills.
Observing and learning from these reactions helps guide us in our work with the client both during the treatment and in subsequent ones. And although it may not be immediately apparent why all of them are connected to your work, everything that occurs in the room is related on some level to the exchange of energy between yourself and the client.
Reactions visible in the feet during palpation that seem primarily physical such as cramping and twitching, and many in the body, such as yawning and stretching, are certainly connected to the reflexes and our work on them.
And those reactions that seem triggered by emotions reflected in body language, such as frowning and blushing, and in the language of the feet, such as toes pulling away or ankles pulling inward, are also likely to be connected to our work. Although they are maybe more often related to questions, we ask the client.
Holistically, of course, all reactions will involve an element of both physical and emotional energy. Sometimes, they might be due to working on the right reflexes at precisely the right moment in a conversation! The point is to watch out for them and note what your hands were working on or your conversation when they happened.
It is important to record all visible reactions in your client. But removing your hands in the middle of a treatment breaks your connection with their energy field and can leave them feeling very vulnerable.
So no matter what you see happening, once you have started working on the feet, you should never pause palpation to write anything down. Make a mental note of what you were doing when it happened, so you can repeat it later on in the treatment and see how the body responds then.
But make sure to add it to your written notes after your ‘hands on’ work has finished, so you can repeat it at subsequent treatments to see how the body responds at a later date.
Common Physical Reactions
Because there may be reactions visible in the client’s body, you will need to be conscious in your peripheral vision of any movement there whilst still maintaining your focus on their feet. Feet are the priority, of course, and if you miss something happening in the body as a result of working on them, it is not a problem. But with time, it will become easy to be aware of both.
Some physical reactions, such as cramping, are caused directly by putting pressure on the feet and stimulating circulation. Others, such as twitching or scratching, may be mini ‘healing reactions’ to a health issue of the client. Some, like sweating, can be both caused directly by pressure and simultaneously be a healing reaction.
If a reaction ceases to occur during your work, the condition it was triggered by has improved sufficiently, or the body is not yet ready to respond further. If it has only lessened or even increased, then there is potential to get a further response by coming back and working a little more on the area later on during that treatment. Make a note of all this at the end of the treatment, and it will remind you to look out for the same reactions occurring at future appointments.
In The Feet
Cramping can be caused by many health problems, dietary deficiencies, and medication side effects, so if a client suffers from constant cramping, make sure they have had a diagnosis. However, the kind of occasional cramping that occurs during a treatment is not likely to be due to these health problems. It is usually triggered by the massaging effect of reflexology on tight tendons in the feet of a dehydrated client.
So if cramping starts, insist your client drinks a large glass of water, which may well stop it. But if the cramping continues, work on the hands and/or focus on the dorsal aspect of the foot, keeping away from the main muscles/tendons on the plantar aspect. Then advise the client to increase their fluid intake, especially before reflexology. Hopefully, they will do so, and cramping will not occur during future treatments, but you can get them to drink some water beforehand, to be certain.
Once we know the reason for the cramping, as reflexologists, we should also consider why it is only affecting a specific reflex area and not others. Because cramping happens when there is a restriction in a tiny area of muscle fibres in a tendon of the foot, there is an equivalent in that area of the muscle system in the body.
Typical examples are toe cramping = tightness in the neck or shoulder girdle, transverse arch cramping = tightness in the diaphragm, and longitudinal medial arch cramping = tightness in the mid-back. But as it affects such a small body area, the client may not even be aware of it. However, once you can work the feet again properly, with careful palpation, you will find a small area of very tight muscle fibre precisely in the part of the foot where the cramping occurred.
And as long as the client is properly hydrated in future treatments, you should be able to work on these areas. Although this will be painful, it is important to do so, and the tendon tightness will gradually loosen up in the foot and, therefore, also in the muscle in the body.
Before the treatment
If both feet are sweating excessively before the treatment starts, this is a medical condition known as hyperhidrosis, that causes a hormonal imbalance affecting the nervous system and the adrenal glands. I covered this previously in the chapter on ‘The Condition of the Skin’. Reflexology can sometimes help the sweat decrease or even dry up during the treatment, as it calms the nerves and adrenal glands. So if it eases during the treatment, this is a sign you are helping to balance the body.
During the treatment
If the sweating starts during a treatment, it is important to note what reflexes you were working on when it began and whether it affected one or both feet. Unfortunately is very easy to miss as it is hard to differentiate between sweat and wax or lotion on the foot. So pay attention to whether the skin looks shinier and/or more slippery with a slightly different, wetter texture than when the treatment started. Particularly if you have been working deeply on the reflexes to muscles or the glands of a client with an endocrine imbalance.
1. If both feet start to sweat a lot simultaneously during a treatment because of the connection to the adrenal glands, it may be caused by a physical reaction to talking or thinking about something that has made the client extremely anxious. So consider what was being talked about when it happened, or ask the client if they were thinking about something stressful. But if the client was relaxed, it can be the opposite, i.e. a healing reaction to your work on a very imbalanced endocrine system. In this case, note what you did when the feet began sweating and repeat it at future treatments.
2. Moderate sweating is the body’s natural response to cool down an area. So it can start after massaging tight muscle reflexes has generated a lot of heat in that area of the foot. This will also stimulate local blood and lymph circulation. As the skin is the largest organ of excretion and sweat contains toxins, it also means detoxification is occurring in those muscle reflexes. And therefore, the same will happen in the related area of the body, so it is another type of healing reaction.
In these cases, sweating usually happens only in the foot being worked and in the area of those muscle reflexes, although sometimes the entire foot will start sweating. You will likely feel the sweat before seeing it, especially if it is over a small area. The sweating will probably stop soon after you finish working on the foot.
In Both Feet And Body
Twitching & Jerking
Both twitching and jerking are widespread during palpation and can be seen in the foot being worked, the other foot, and even the body itself. They can happen at any point in the treatment but often occur as a response to sedation techniques such as linking, and most often when clients have reached a state of deep relaxation, especially those who are anxious.
Anxiety causes the nervous system to release neurotransmitters unnecessarily, triggering muscles to move involuntarily, resulting in twitching and jerking. So when they occur during a treatment, it would seem to be a type of ‘healing reaction’ in the form of a release of pent-up anxiety from the nervous system caused by palpation impacting the nerve reflexes.
The reflexologist may have been consciously working on nerve reflexes at the time, such as those of the central nervous system in the spine. Or they may have unintentionally connected with a reflex to a nerve under pressure, from a misaligned joint, for example.
When the twitching or jerking occurs in the body itself, make note of where in the foot you were working at the time. But also work on the corresponding reflex in the foot to the area that is twitching if they are different.
If you are touching the feet when they start twitching or jerking, move your hands away a little. Keep them within the aura of the foot but physically allow enough space for the feet to jerk or twitch freely, which will enable the release of energy. You can return to the points later in the treatment to see if the foot has more energy to release but definitely return there in future sessions to check if things have improved.
We have seen the wonderful video by Yvonne Owen in the previous chapter on ‘Making a Foot Assessment‘ showing the feet twitching in reaction to her treatment. In this instance, the client’s feet released nervous energy from the adrenal gland reflexes even though she was not touching the feet, just holding her fingers near them.
Most itching results from various medical conditions that make the body release histamines, causing inflammation in the skin cells. Scratching provides temporary relief, though if it is done repeatedly, it will worsen the condition. However, if a client briefly scratches a reflex in the foot or an area in the body itself during or after a treatment, it may be a healing reaction. This is especially after work on the adrenal reflexes, as they produce histamine and cortisol, which calm the skin down after irritation.
Itching is also a very common stress reaction, although why is unclear. So scratching may also be a soothing reaction to something discussed before or during the treatment. And another skin irritation known as neuropathic itching happens when there is damage to the local nerves. In this case, the urge to scratch is a sign your treatment is reaching the damaged nerve or nerves in a beneficial way.
Clients can sometimes be seen rubbing an area in the body during the treatment, especially after you have been working on the equivalent reflex in the foot. Alternatively, they may go to directly rub the reflex area after you finish working on their feet. Besides increasing the local temperature and blood supply, self-contact with a sensitive area seems to also make the brain more aware of the problem and causes it to reduce acute pain. So your treatment has stimulated the client to make this brain-body connection by rubbing the body area or its reflex.
The body involuntarily stretches muscles when it realises it needs to release tension in its fascia. Stretching does this by improving blood flow to oxygenate the muscles, taking nutrients, removing toxins, and releasing relaxing endorphins.
So if a client stretches during a treatment, it shows that your work has woken up the body’s awareness that it needs to release tension and relax. Sometimes the client will stretch out the feet or wriggle the toes, which is the same reaction, only seen in the microcosm of the equivalent muscle reflexes instead.
If an area of the body is out of alignment, working on the corresponding musculoskeletal reflexes can stimulate it to move back into the correctly aligned position. As covered in previous chapters, clients often relax their ankles and knees in response to your work. But a similar reaction can sometimes be seen further up the musculoskeletal system after tension has been released in the corresponding reflexes in the feet.
Watch out for clients moving their head, shoulder girdle, or ribcage or even rearranging their sitting position by adjusting their lower back/pelvis. In fact, any shifting of joints during a treatment is likely to be an indication that your treatment is working.
Sometimes though, clients adjusting their posture or the position of their feet is a sign of an emotional response to your questions rather than due to your work on the muscle reflexes. I cover this in the section below on body language.
In The Body Only
Coughing & Sneezing
Coughing is the body’s attempt to clear foreign particles from the airways. Continuous coughing indicates a health issue, but a short burst or two during a treatment is common. As with scratching, histamine production is involved, so it may be another common healing reaction, especially if you have just been working on the respiratory tract. It can also signify that you have released tension from the diaphragm, chest, or throat muscles.
Sneezing is similar to coughing as it also involves the production of histamine and is an attempt to clear the nasal passages of foreign bodies. Prolonged bouts show that the sinuses are overly sensitive, so they need to be worked on, and the cause of the sensitivity explored. But if the client sneezes a few times during the treatment, you may have triggered a similar healing reaction to coughing. The client suddenly getting a runny nose can also be a healing reaction in the sinuses.
While sneezing can be a sign of over-sensitivity to harmless substances such as pollen, it can be a reaction to toxic chemicals in the room. It may be triggered by your cleaning fluids, hand sanitiser, or even the perfume of your previous client! So make sure you have plenty of fresh air circulating in the treatment room.
Swallowing by a client during a treatment is frequently a reaction to work on the reflexes in the throat area. When you see it, consider if you were deliberately trying to stimulate a reflex in the area, such as the thyroid, parathyroid, or lymph nodes. If you were, it would be a sign that you are reaching the desired place.
Swallowing involves the muscles in the throat area, which can be a sign that they are relaxing. A lot of emotional stress can be held in these muscles as unspoken words are stored in the throat. This may be related to communication with other people specifically, or it could relate to a lack of self-expression generally due to a lack of confidence.
Reflexology may stimulate the lacrimal ducts and make the eyes water. This is a good sign, especially if the client is prone to eye problems such as styes, as it is the body’s mechanism for clearing the sort of debris that can cause infections, such as dust and foreign bodies from the eyes.
Clients sometimes cry, which is a positive sign that we have encouraged them to release pent-up emotions. However, I have included it in this section on physical reactions because there are various elements associated with crying, which means it also helps relieve the body of physical stress.
The composition of emotional tears includes stress hormones and toxins, so they help in this way. And prolonged crying activates the parasympathetic nerves that help the body to rest. Sobbing may be even more beneficial, as gulping causes deep breaths, which increases the intake of oxygen and cool air that lowers brain temperature, leading to mood improvement.
So it is good to let the client cry (as long as it is not constant, which may be a sign of depression, then it would be a good idea to refer them to a mental wellbeing professional). Allow them space to connect to the feelings that are causing the tears. Some may not have another place where they are allowed the luxury of time and privacy to cry. There is no need to comment or comfort them, simply pass them a box of tissues, and you can encourage them to talk about things when the crying has ceased naturally.
N.B., when assessing this, make sure that there is proper support for the neck on both sides, not only a flat pillow beneath the head. You should do this anyway, but it is essential when assessing the client’s posture.
During a treatment, when a client’s head slumps down to the side, it is a sign that they are deeply relaxed. But muscle memory is also telling you that the person is prone to leaning their head to that side in their daily life, and how much the head slumps shows how chronic this posture is. Of course, many people will habitually lean their head to one side and then to the other, so they will also tend to do this when relaxed on the couch.
The degree of the slump shows the amount of compression in the vertebrae and muscle tension at the base of the cranium on that side. If the face also rotates towards the shoulder, this tells you that the neck is also prone to twisting on that side. Spend time working on relaxing, stretching and straightening out the affected neck reflexes. And take note of whether the client adjusts the position of the head after your work.
Yawning is very common during a treatment, but it is not fully understood why a person yawns or what is happening in the brain when it does. However, it is known to be an indication that the body is slowing down. And it is a way of stretching the jaw muscles, and we have seen in the section above that stretching is beneficial.
It is also thought to have other functions, possibly regulating brain temperature, which is essential for relaxation and is connected to the production of various chemicals in the brain. So we can assume it will likely be a desirable reaction to our work.
When you see a client letting out a deep exhalation, it is evident that they are releasing a lot of tension and relaxing deeply. Note which reflex you were working on when it happened, as it is a sign that the related area of the body was under stress at that time.
Belching, wind, and gas
The expelling of trapped air in the body, whether back up through the mouth or through the end of the digestive tract, can be stimulated by reflexology. Of course, these are not visible reactions but are still informative, especially if they occur regularly during treatments. So they are worth including in this section.
Air can enter the digestive tract for many reasons, including drinking fizzy liquids. But it can also be caused by swallowing a lot of air whilst talking or eating, smoking, or chewing gum. So if there is an excess in the body, it may be associated with anxiety that makes the person eat or drink too fast, gulp while talking, or obsessively chew gum. It can therefore be a sign that we need to question the client about bad habits and address any associated anxiety.
If belching is persistent, it can be due to certain medical conditions, including a build-up of bacteria in the stomach, so it should be referred for a diagnosis, especially if accompanied by reflux. Otherwise, it is caused by expelling excess air that has entered the upper digestive tract, and clients may burp as a reaction to having these reflexes worked.
Wind is the air that has been swallowed the same way as that which causes belching but has reached the large intestine. It is noisy but not smelly, and it is normal for people to pass wind many times a day. As we regularly stimulate peristalsis during our work on the digestive reflexes, the client may expel air from the rectum as a result. But if it is persistent, it may indicate the same problems as constant belching.
Peristalsis may also stimulate gas expulsion, but this is different from wind. It is usually silent but foul smelling as it has been created by poorly digested food waste lingering and fermenting in the gut. It contains other chemicals in addition to air. It means we need to focus on the colon to encourage the expulsion of waste. And chronic release of gas indicates that the person needs to seriously consider their diet and potential food intolerances, and we should support them in this.
Reading Body And Foot Language
We need to use an element of caution when interpreting body language, as its inferences can vary significantly between people from different backgrounds, personality types, and cultures. Even so, we can always see how lively or dejected the client appears when they enter the room, and there are many more, often subtle physical expressions of emotions that are fairly universal.
I list some of the most common ones below, and there may be others you can interpret in your own clients. Their body and foot language will sometimes reveal how they feel as soon as they lie down, but it often won’t manifest until they talk about certain things. At other times, it may result from feelings left unspoken or even a subliminal reaction to subconscious emotions that they are not fully aware of.
If a posture adopted is one-off or short-lived, it is likely a sign of an acute emotional issue. But the more often it is repeated during the treatment and in subsequent ones, the more of an ongoing problem it is, so take note of this.
And also, pay attention as to whether anything you said or any particular reflexes you worked on led to an intensifying or relaxation of the posture. These kinds of observations help us tune in to the client’s emotions and guide us to the body’s reflexes that we need to focus our attention on to improve their mental wellbeing.
Hands on body
If clients lie with their hands over the front of their body rather than at their sides, it may just be a convenient or comfortable place to put them. But sometimes, as they lie down with the front of their body exposed, a client will place their hands over an area they feel vulnerable about emotionally. Or they may bring them up and put them over an area whilst you are talking about certain subjects.
Female clients, in particular, will often place their hands over the lower abdomen. This can indicate fertility, gynaecological issues, sexual problems, or even abuse. Both sexes’ hands over the intestinal area can show emotional issues connected to digestion or self-consciousness about weight/appearance. Hands over the solar plexus show emotional fear and unexpressed feelings of love or grief. If the fingers are also tightly intertwined, this indicates feelings of stressful thoughts and possibly frustration or anger alongside the vulnerability. (see ‘clenched fists’ below.)
Spend extra time palpating the reflexes to the area the hands are covering, and ask more in-depth questions about the health of the area, especially if the client brought their hands up to it while discussing something. And clients who feel vulnerable psychologically will probably want to be covered up, so always offer this option, even with just a sheet in warm weather. (But if a client doesn’t want to be covered, don’t force them.)
The arms are the physical outlet for many positive feelings, including creativity and affection, and negative emotions, such as defensiveness and aggression. So If a client lies down with folded arms or folds them during the treatment, this is the body language of someone holding themselves back from doing something that physically expresses an emotion.
If it is seen in a new client, possibly it is more of a protective posture because they feel self-conscious, shy, and a little vulnerable, and they will unfold their arms as they feel more relaxed. Otherwise, if someone lies down and immediately folds their arms, this would indicate a chronically held emotion close to the surface. If the client folds them during the treatment, this is likely a response to your discussion.
In the latter cases, try to encourage the client to talk about their repressed emotions, as opening up about their feelings may help them to relax and release their arms. But if not, ask them to take a deep breath and lower their arms to their sides on the out breath. The emotions are deeply felt if they continue repeatedly folding their arms throughout the treatment.
Although these clients are often unaware of it, they will store a lot of tension in the shoulder joints that pass down into the arms. Spend time working around these reflexes (including up and into toe 5 for the shoulder joint tightness), and the level of the tension you feel will reflect how chronic the emotional problem is. Also, do a lot of relaxing and sedating techniques for the whole upper third of the body.
The fingers are the hand reflexes to the brain, so clenched fists, or bunched up or interlocked fingers, are signs of mental anguish and annoyance or frustrated or angry thinking. This posture shows that the client is not happy with their thoughts or there is something they are trying to restrain themselves from thinking or verbalising.
You can ask them to take a deep breath and relax their hands, maybe getting them to wriggle their fingers or shake their wrists to release the physical manifestation of the stress. Work on the toes for the brain reflexes and simultaneously for the fingers as their referral reflexes. Also, work on the reflexes to the lower arms as the tension from the hands will pass up into the muscles there.
Again, check whether the hands were tense all along or whether a topic of conversation triggered their clenching or interlocking. And how often the client returns to doing so as an indication of how severe and/or chronic the problem is.
Check to see if any tension is visible in the jaw, as many people hold tension there, even to the point of clenching it. Emotionally this is connected to anxiety and/or anger about expressing themselves fully, constantly ‘biting their tongue’ or ‘swallowing their words’. It may be related to fear of repercussions or possibly a lack of self-confidence in what they have to say.
If you can detect tension there, work the reflexes to the temporomandibular joint at the lateral side of the big toes. Then all across the face reflex above and below the knuckle of the big toe and around the joints of toes 4 and 5. Look out for when tension in the jaw has been released, as it will drop slightly, and the mouth will probably open a little.
Check whether your client is frowning when they lie down. If so, there may be mental exhaustion from overwork, for example, or if the frown is around the eyes, potential problems with eye strain. If the client suffers from headaches, they may originate from the muscles involved in the frown.
Emotionally it is connected to constant worrying due to fearfulness, confusion, or overthinking because of indecisiveness, insecurity, or lack of confidence. Ask if the client is worried about anything and encourage them to talk about it.
Whatever the root cause of the frowning, spend a lot of time on all the toes, especially the brain, face, and eye reflexes, and look for the frown relaxing. If it does, make a mental note of when, and if it doesn’t, then the problem is more entrenched, and these reflexes need ongoing work. So look out for the client presenting at the next appointment, frowning again.
Blushing is the body language of self-consciousness, embarrassment, or shame. Sometimes it can be seen in the feet as they also blush bright red! Try to make it clear to the client that you are not judging them or laughing at what they said or did, and work on all the reflexes that will help reduce anxiety and nervousness, as well as those for emotional balance.
It is important to observe a client’s breathing technique as it is often very poor, affecting the oxygenation and, therefore, the entire body’s health. And besides this, seeing the associated restriction in the local muscle groups involved is also helpful as it can be a contributing cause to problems with many bodily functions.
Tightness in the neck and chest muscles is particularly relevant in clients prone to upper respiratory tract problems, as it makes lymph flow more difficult. Lower down, tightness in the diaphragm muscles can be connected to digestive problems because it impedes food movement through the stomach and the action of peristalsis in the lower gut.
Shallow breathing also has emotional connotations. It can be symptomatic of anxiety, especially if the breathing is also quite rapid, which can be a precursor to hyperventilation and panic attacks. Emotionally, this is connected to holding on to past experiences and fear of facing new things.
There should also be a very slight movement of the throat muscles when breathing correctly, so look to see whether or not there is visible movement there. Poor breathing in this area can be connected to a ‘lump in the throat’ due to unexpressed grief or sorrow.
Working with shallow breathing
Regarding the feet, if there are any visibly tight areas in the respiratory tract, work on stretching and releasing tension from the local muscle reflexes, and spend time using the Diaphragm Rocking technique. As well as working on the lungs themselves, of course.
Otherwise, developing good breathing is one of the simplest and most effective things a client can do to improve their mental and physical health. And you can easily incorporate some work with this into your treatment to help them correct any bad habits they have.
At the start of a session, ask the client to breathe a few times deeply ‘into their abdomen’ through their nose – if possible – for a count of 7, then out through the mouth for a count of 8, or for as long as they can. This will help them relax, and at the same time, you can observe their breathing pattern. You can do deep breathing yourself along with them if you wish.
Their chest, diaphragm, and abdomen should all rise and fall gently together as the local muscles expand and contract to allow the lungs to breathe in and out efficiently. The muscles in the throat should also move slightly, although this is often overlooked as it can be much harder to detect.
Observe to see if any of these areas cannot expand easily. This could be due to medical issues such as asthma, chest infections, or even a heavy cold. But otherwise, any restriction to deep breathing is probably because of tightness in the local muscles, which can be relaxed. Get the client to focus on the area themselves and notice whether they feel any restriction or tightness there. Hopefully, they can make the connection (although tightness in the throat may be harder to recognise).
You can help the client with the gentle technique demonstrated in video 1. below at the beginning or end of your hands on work. They can also practice deep breathing by themselves during the treatment or in their own time. It will remind the body and brain of the benefits, and if it is practised regularly, their breathing will automatically become deeper and slower in everyday life.
If there are any accompanying medical issues associated with breathing, there is a method known as Buteyko breathing which claims to help with respiratory weakness and illnesses. This is worth mentioning to your client if you think it might be of interest for them to have a look at. But do not specifically recommend it, as it is not always the best solution for breathing issues.
PLEASE NOTE in video 1. following I ask the client to ‘breathe into their abdomen’; of course, the air is not actually going there, but into the lungs. But if they imagine breathing into the abdomen, this makes it easier for them to be aware of and release any tightness in the diaphragm muscles. Once the diaphragm is looser, it will then be easier to release any tightness in the chest, which in turn will allow lung capacity to increase.
Observing the client’s breathing pattern once they are covered up is a little harder, but you should hopefully still be able to see it. They are much more likely to breathe deeply if not feeling ‘exposed’ and potentially vulnerable as they lie on the couch.
I have covered some of the more common emotions expressed in the feet as a microcosm of the body in the chapter on Initial Presentation and in the feet assessments at the end of each chapter. But here, I will look briefly at how you might see the feet move during the treatment as an expression of body language that is an immediate reaction to your work.
Toes pulling away
If the toes are in a chronically dorsiflexed position, the upper body and the shoulders/chest are very tense in terms of physical reflexes. However, if a client is actively pulling their toes away from you whilst you are talking to them, this is an acute emotional reaction to your questioning and is a sign that the person is not happy with the way the conversation is going.
They are pulling away from you as they may feel you are prying or getting too close to the source of something they feel ashamed or embarrassed about. So they are withdrawing from engaging with you and your treatment, which will hinder their response to your work. So it is best to get off the subject and change to a different topic.
But if tension persists and the toes’ withdrawal continues, stop talking and focus on doing a lot of sedation and gentle caring work until the toes relax. This means that the person feels emotionally safe enough to reengage with you and the treatment again.
Feet closing off
The emotional significance of the rotation of the ankles at presentation has been previously covered, but I will quickly reiterate it. If they are inverting, it can signify that the client is feeling vulnerable and trying to protect themselves. If they are close together and upright, the person is more assertive but still defensive. Both are postures of closing off and may be symptomatic of long-held emotions, in which case any change in their appearance will be gradual over a number of treatments.
However, these positions often reflect a recent emotion in response to a current concern. Or a client may adopt them simply because they are new and unsure of you, reflexology, or both. In either case, the tension will be released after a while of working their feet, especially around the ankles. The feet should return to the normal position of a slight lateral rotation, and/or the ankles will open up slightly. This is a definite sign that their emotional vulnerability and defensiveness have been eased by your work, and they are feeling much more relaxed and receptive.
But if the client suddenly adopts this posture while you are talking to them, something in the conversation is causing them to feel vulnerable or defensive. Make a mental note of this, ask how they are feeling, and provide a sympathetic ear for them to express their emotions. But if they don’t wish to talk, concentrate on relaxing them through their feet. Hopefully, they will become calm again, and their feet will return to a naturally open position.
Because of the nature of this chapter, it does not include a foot assessment. However, an upcoming chapter will consist of foot reading case studies of several feet, looking at all four aspects, the plantar, dorsal, medial, and lateral aspects, which have not been covered so far.
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