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4. Uses in Your Practice #1

Connecting With Clients

Good communication with clients encourages confidence in us and our therapy, and we can use what we read on the feet to ask the right questions in the right way, even before we touch their feet. If we have tuned in to their overall energy and specific health issues just by looking at their feet, they are more likely to open up to us. This makes it much easier to work with them rather than just on them and engage in the mutual exchange of energy that facilitates healing within a holistic context rather than waiting for us to ‘cure’ them. 

The Body Language of the Feet

We can read their feet not just for physical ailments and emotional states but even to get an idea of what kind of person they are and consider this when talking to them. Seeing their ‘body language’ reflected in their feet will tell us whether they are extroverted and outgoing or reserved and private, for example. The feet also give us much information about how the person feels that dayDo they appear limp and dejected, tense and resistant or inflamed and angry? And we can often see these things clearly regardless of any ‘front’ they may choose to put on with us. 

With regular clients, we can even start to recognise how the feet reflect changes in their moods and emotions from week to week and adjust our questioning accordingly. It helps us decide what we ask and how we ask it to get the most open, informative, and genuine response. You may already be picking things up intuitively from the body language of the feet, but consciously studying this will take it to another level. Photo 1a. following gives an indication of very strong emotions, whereas photo 1b. maybe reflects more of the personality. 

photo 1a.

The core inner person looks pale and neglected; in contrast, an excess of angry red energy is being directed to the outside world. 

photo 1b.

These feet look extremely reserved and protective of their owner’s privacy. This type of presentation is prevalent.

Better Medical Histories

While clients might not give us the whole picture, the feet always do

But despite all the benefits of forging a strong connection with our clients, unfortunately, there will still be many limitations regarding what they tell us when we take their medical history. The information they give us is only a part of the picture for many reasons, as it is never totally correct and, at times, actually misleading. They frequently not only omit to mention health problems, both past and present but can even forget that they had them in the first place. 

Reasons why we cannot rely on medical history

The list below of reasons why we cannot entirely rely on the medical history or health update a client gives us is to stress just how useful being able to read health problems on the feet can be. I have listed below as many as I can think of why we get incomplete and/or inaccurate information, and so far, there are 20, but I’m sure there are probably more.

They may not yet have any symptoms.

They may be too embarrassed to mention such things as bowel movements or sex drive.

Medication or painkillers may be masking symptoms of other issues.

They may feel they are boring or burdening you by discussing their problems.

They may have symptoms but be scared and in denial.

They may be ‘too busy’ to be ill, so refusing to listen to their body.

They may be completely fed up talking about their health and wish to switch off as quickly as possible and relax into their treatment.

They may have a British stiff upper lip approach to life or be a very private person who hates talking about themselves.

They may have had illnesses in the past they’ve forgotten about.

They may not realise such things as painful, heavy periods or PMT are due to hormonal imbalances; they just consider them ‘part of being a woman’.

Their symptoms may manifest systemically in the body, affecting general well-being rather than anything specific.

The problem may arise in a different part of the body, e.g. a headache from a lower back problem.

They may not have followed your advice/suggestions at a previous treatment. So feel embarrassed and lie.

They may see talking about emotional problems as a sign of weakness,

A symptom may be so normal to them they have ceased to register it.

They may have multiple health issues that get mixed up and confused, symptom-wise.

They may lie if they feel guilty about drinking heavily or eating poorly, for example.

Their problem may be chronic, but if the symptoms are not current at that moment, the client often forgets about it altogether.

They may have low self-esteem and not consider their problems worthy of your attention.

They may be suffering emotionally or have mental wellbeing issues but are unaware that reflexology can help, so don’t mention them.



Targeted questions

So, if we are not given a reason that might explain why something on the foot looks the way it does during our initial record-taking, we know to ask targeted questions about it. When we do this, there is a good chance it may trigger a memory in the client or uncover why they are unaware or do not want to tell us about a particular problem.  

For example, I had a participant at a foot reading workshop who had a long swooping line curving across her left lung reflex (similar to photo 2.). She said that she wasn’t aware of any lung or chest problems. Eventually, her friend at the workshop said, “Didn’t you have pneumonia as a child?” 

The long swooping line over her lung was typical of the curving lines I see when there is scar tissue (external or internal) in the body. The lung may have healed, but the history of its trauma was still there to be seen. (NB scar tissue lines may be shorter or longer depending on the extent of the scarring.)

Without my continued questioning, the friend’s memory may not have been triggered, and we may never have had any idea why the line was there. However, the foot had not forgotten and was still telling us the client’s history. 

I know that lines such as these call me to pay more attention to them, regardless of the client’s memory. After all, the lung would still be a potential area of weakness that we would want to prevent from falling into ill health again. 

I cover the significance of the many types of lines on the feet in the chapters on Reading Lines’.

photo 2.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the lung scar line, but this photo is one of a similar line. This client had had abdominal surgery.

Clients With Communication Difficulties

Many of us work with clients who, for various reasons, cannot tell us their medical history or even talk properly about their symptoms. Being able to read the feet effectively is of great use when working with those with limited or no ability to articulate their state of health. This includes clients with learning difficulties and those who are not neurotypical and communicate in other ways, such as those on the autistic spectrum.

Other reasons clients may be unable to communicate include hearing or speech impediments, or they may be seriously ill or in recovery from an operation and not have the energy to speak. And children, especially younger ones, cannot always adequately express how their mind or body feels. In all these circumstances, reading the health of the reflexes, rather than relying on verbal feedback, is an enormous help.

video 1. Functional Reflex Therapy

Lorraine Senior is a reflexologist who has done much work in reflexology for clients with learning and communication difficulties. She has developed a technique known as functional reflex therapy specifically for working with these clients. This video is not about foot reading but is for those interested in learning more about the technique as a therapist or a carer.

Re-engaging With A Client's Energy

"See the light, shape, colours, textures. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be"
Eckhart Tolle, Practising the Power of Now

Where the eyes go, the mind will follow

First, to realise how useful our vision can be to reengage with our client’s energy, we must reflect on the ubiquity of distractions we face during a treatment. External visual distractions can be found wherever we work, and our eyes will inevitably wander to our surroundings. And as we are looking at the importance of using your eyes during a reflexology treatment, I think this is a relevant fact of biology: 

“The retina is actually a piece of the brain that has grown into the eye and processes neural signals when it detects light. Ganglion cells carry information from the retina to the higher brain centres; other nerve cells within the retina perform the first stages of analysis of the visual world. The axons of the retinal ganglion cells, with the support of other types of cells, form the optic nerve and carry these signals to the brain.”

Distracting thoughts

Internal distractions are also endless; thoughts about the previous client or personal worries. Even worse is thinking about the client but in a judgemental way, and if we are honest, it is hard not to do this at times. But whenever our mind wanders, it means that we are not giving our best, and on some level, the client will be aware of our lack of engagement or, worse, absorb negative energy. It also means that we will drain our own energy.

Overthinking a treatment

Conversely, we may be positively focused on the client but in the wrong way. There is a fine line between considering how to work and overthinking the treatment. Trying to ‘fix’ a problem or work out how to make a client ‘better’ is not a healing exchange of energy. This won’t be very effective and can also be exhausting for us to try to force our will on them.

To Reconnect Mindfully With The Client

So, it is normal to find your mind wandering to anything other than being fully and productively engaged with your client. And although your hands will always be working away in a capable methodical fashion, you will likely only be completely ‘in the zone’ with them for a small part of their treatment. The reality is that due to the nature of the mind, it will always wander. 

But returning our eyes to mindfully look at the feet is a simple and easy but surprisingly effective tool to help us empty the distracted mind and positively reconnect with the client’s energy. This will put us in the best position to cease irrelevant internal dialogue, focus on our client, let our intuition flow, and facilitate a healing response.

We will doubtless need to do this many times during a treatment. But it is worth becoming adept at doing so as when the distracted mind stops intruding, the purest and most beneficial energy exchange occurs between the client and us. This is because if we constantly mindfully focus visually on the feet, we will reach a meditative state. 

In fact, you probably already reach this state some of the time during your work through your hands, intently concentrating on the client’s energy. But focusing your eyes on the appearance of the feet also takes this to another level. It also means you are more likely to feel calm but mentally energised rather than tired and drained at the end of your working day. 

diagram 1. Looking at the feet as your focusing anchor

video 2. gives great insight into how we can still the mind during a treatment and be fully present to our clients by using a focus, in this case, the appearance of their feet.

video 2.

Reading Physiological Systems

Ironically for a holistic complementary therapy, reflexology teaching tends to have an overriding emphasis on the health of organs, glands, joints and so on, in isolation from that of the surrounding area of the body. And the way we are taught to palpate the feet tends to encourage this. But while it is essential to study reflexes individually, it is equally important to consider how the functioning of all the physiological systems affects the area of the body where they are found. 

To get the best idea of the client’s health, we need to use both these approaches alongside each other, as Visual Reflexology does. It is not a new concept; we assess the health of the overall lymphatic system by looking for areas of swollen lymph on the foot (video 2. following). But actually, the health of all the body systems can be evaluated similarly through their appearance in the feet. Although some are less obvious than the lymph, they can all be read if we know how to do so. In the previous chapter on ‘ Why Health Issues Appear on the Reflexes ‘, I covered this a little in how all the body systems are represented in the different types of skin cells.

And because looking at the feet, in effect, allows us to see the entire body in front of us, we can judge whether a systemic problem is only affecting an isolated reflex or, more likely, a larger area (photo 3a. following). Conversely, it may just be impacting part of an individual reflex (photos 3b. & 3c. following), for example, yellowness visible over only a patch of the lungI look at how to make systemic visual evaluations in the second part of the book, but here are a few examples: 

  • Misalignment of joints and tension in the foot show problems with the related part of the musculoskeletal system in the body. 

  • Broken capillaries and swollen veins tell us about the history of the venous system in the equivalent area of the body. 

  • Different types of lines show various forms of stress impacting an area of the body. 

 In this video Sally Kay shows how to work the lymphatic reflexes in a specific way. But we can visually evaluate and decide on appropriate techniques for other body systems besides the lymphatic. 

Indirect Causation

Sometimes a system is indirectly causing problems in parts of the body. Many skin conditions, such as eczema, involve issues with the digestive organs. But these issues may also be impacting other areas of the body, and the reflex(es) on which eczema appears shows specifically which they are. Or, if we see multiple very fine lines emanating from the central nervous system reflex (in the spine), the areas of the foot that they spread across show which organs of the nervous system are affected. 

Skin Tones

The overall skin tone of the feet* reflects the general health of the circulatory system. But colour can still vary a lot in different parts of the foot, giving us more precise information about the circulation in those areasThe most common colour tones are yellowness which indicates toxicity, redness showing inflammation and a bluish tinge which shows poor oxygenation. The deeper the shade, the more profound the problem. When more than one problem is found in an area, the colours combine, e.g. red + yellow = orange.

*People from different ethnic backgrounds obviously have differing skin pigmentation and may also have slightly differing underlying skin tones. But variations in colour in a foot reading context are still relevant as they are not due to either of these but reflect systemic imbalances in that area of the body (photo 3a. following).

Studying feet carefully shows that they all have variations of colour on them, which do not fit neatly over specific reflexes. 

photo 3a.

Despite the high melanin content in this foot, the redness/inflammation all along the spine reflex and in the heel (pelvis) and ball of the hallux (chest) is very evident.


photo 3b

The blue patch of skin visible just below the ankle bone is not restricted to any specific reflex. But instead covers an area of the dorsal lower lateral abdomen.

The blue tone shows that those parts of the organs etc., that it covers are poorly oxygenated.

various colours

photo 3c.

These toes and metatarsals have a variety of colours on them. A overall reddish inflamed tone, yellow showing mucosity over part of the lung/bronchial tube in zone 2, (also overlapping part of the thyroid reflex), and a purplish tinge (red+blue) over zone 4 of the big toe/head.

This is the Q&A section, so please go ahead and comment on this chapter if you wish. If you want to ask me something privately so only I can view it, make a note, and I will not make it visible to other readers. 

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to notify you when your comment has been approved, so you will need to check, but I aim to approve them all within 48 hours. You can also scroll down to go directly to the next chapter.

4 thoughts on “4. Uses in Your Practice #1”

  1. I agree. I attended a one day workshop with you a few years ago and have used what I learned ever since, but the e-book is taking it to another level. I’m really excited about learning so much more. Have even left my crime novel on the shelf as this is more riveting!


      thank you I’m so pleased the workshop teaching stayed with you. And as you can see from the book particularly when you get to the practical chapters it’s come on even further since then!

  2. Thank you for another thought provoking & informative post. I am really enjoying learning, mainly because of the way in which you describe things. There is plenty of information, but it is presented in a way which isn’t overwhelming & the accompanying photographs really do help too!!
    Thank you I’m excited to develop my knowledge & to improve my treatments.

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