“Sole & Soul Therapy”
July 16, 2012
It’s time for a pedicure. I like pretty toes and feet. But I love the therapeutic benefits I get from getting a pedicure.
I never had a pedicure when I lived in Pittsburgh. Shoes were always worn and I thought getting my toes painted was frivolous. Then I moved to Arizona, where the state shoe is a flip flop. That’s lucky for me since I don’t have to wrestle putting on socks and shoes too often. It’s not an easy task for someone who has stiff hands and spastic legs.
Bare feet, also a standard here, also has its benefits besides not having to struggle with footwear. It’s cooler and more comfortable, especially when my feet swell from sitting too long. I can grip the floor better when I stand or take a step or two.
Arizona is a very casual-dressing state; the oppressive desert heat in the summer probably has much to do with it. Yet, most girls and women have their feet all gussied up with color and design—even the sloppiest-looking people.
I like looking nice. Maybe that comes from my upbringing, or Eastern roots. It makes me feel good. I like to match my outfits with my earrings, purse, and footwear when I go out, even if it’s to a grocery store. Finding comfortable and stylish footwear had always been a challenge to me ever since I started having walking problems. It was great when I didn’t have to buy matching footwear anymore, but I still had to have nice-looking feet.
So it didn’t take me long after I settled in to my new home to go to a salon and get a pedicure. That’s when I discovered that a pedicure provides more besides just pretty toes. The therapeutic benefits are enormous.
For me, who has advanced MS, cutting my own toenails and polishing them is quite a challenge. I felt like Dorothy in the Emerald City that first day sitting in a massaging chair, as I watched the gal carefully scrub the bottom of my feet. It was embarrassing that my big toes were stiff like two soldiers when she got started, but she told me to just sit back and relax.
And wow, did I ever! As she cleaned and clipped, I became immersed in the chatter going on in the shop. It was fun looking at what everyone else was choosing to do with their nails—the colors, designs, and sparkles. It was a great escape and mood elevator. Where have I been all these years?
After the girl cleaned up my feet and nails, she asked if I wanted extra massage for my feet. I giggled and said “Go for it!” That is when my eyes really opened wide. I couldn’t believe how good it felt as she skillfully massaged ever toe, every part of my foot, ankles and shins. My stiff, soldier-toes were gone, my feet were aligned perfectly–not inward–and my whole body was relaxed and rejuvenated.
What was going on? Where did my back, feet and shoulder pain go? I knew how beneficial a regular body massage was for my sore neck, shoulder and back muscles, but I never expected in a million years what a foot massage would do for me.
I started researching on the internet and found out that I wasn’t getting just a foot massage; I was actually getting reflexology. I was (and still am) going to a Vietnamese-run shop where the girls were trained to do this. I just didn’t know it because of the language gap—they speak very little English.
The foot has more than 7,200 nerve endings that connect to specific organs, according to the Reflexology Association of America. The top of the foot corresponds to the chest, the Achilles corresponds to the side of the hip, and the big toe links to the brain. Massage and reflexology techniques bring comfort and restore proper nerve flow. Hm– is this the reason why my big toes weren’t standing at attention anymore?
It is a form of alternative medicine. It doesn’t reduce my need for baclofen that I take for spasticity, but it definitely helps my spasticity and is a complementary approach for my bothersome MS symptoms.
I wish I could get a pedicure every week, but our budget won’t allow it. And unfortunately, other forms of alternative medicine such as massage, acupuncture, or yoga are not covered by insurance. But I consider it enough of a necessity to get one (with massage/reflexology) once a month. Fortunately, the shop where I go only charges $25 (plus tip). And gift certificates for birthdays and Christmas are always appreciated.
Relaxation, good company, energized well-being, less pain and pretty toes–all for $25-30 and an hour of time. I think it is a great bang for the buck.
P.S. I should mention that although the shop is filled mostly with women, it’s not unusual to see a guy or two in there as well :).