Think About the Foot
The area you are working on now has the five shafts of the metatarsal bones, which are used as guidelines in your work. The diaphragm line begins just under the metatarsal heads and the waistline comes at the ends of the metatarsal bones. It often helps to feel your own foot first, tracing the bones that are the guidelines of this section.
Feeling the Foot
As you hold your foot, let your fingers move across the bones, feeling the muscles as well. Walk your fingers down, up, and across, identifying the metatarsal bones. The bases of these bones are enlarged; feel across the bottom of the foot and then the top.
Once you feel comfortable identifying this area, try this on the receiver. Hold the foot with both hands and feel the metatarsal heads on the top of the foot. This will give you an idea of where the diaphragm line begins. Use the thumbs to walk down the bones to the base, feeling how the base of each bone enlarges slightly. The waistline guideline is here. Thumb walk in between the bones to feel the connecting muscles.
Hold the foot with the fingers on the top surface and the thumbs on the bottom. Let your thumbs feel the bones, as you did when you felt your own. Become familiar with the bottom surface, understanding where the bones end. Feel on each outside edge, the lateral and medial sides, finding the ends of the bones. These bones represent the end lines for the imaginary waistline.
The first metatarsal is a bit shorter and wider than the other four bones. The base of this bone broadens when it touches the medial cuneiform, which is the bone that follows right behind. Many times the point where these two bones touch forms a bump on the top of the foot, which may cause irritation from ill-fitting shoes.
What the Feet Do
The feet hold all of your body weight, carry you wherever you wish, and perform many other activities. The section of the foot you are now dealing with is also part of the two arches, the longitudinal arch and the transverse arch. These arches provide leverage and support. The medial longitudinal arch is an area where ligaments and tendons may weaken, resulting in a fallen arch or flatfoot.
The upper half of the instep also helps with balance whether you are standing still or walking. Picture the footprint you leave on the beach. Generally the ball of the foot is clear and the instep is not readily available. The center of gravity for the body is located in the arch.
Picture What Corresponds in the Body
You will be working on the reflex for the mouth and esophagus first. As you look at the feet, superimpose the idea of the mouth over the great toes, directing your gaze to the lower medial edge, just above the necks of these two toes. The mouth reflex is found on both toes just above the bottom inside edge of the toe bone. The reflex for the esophagus runs along the medial edge from the bulge of the bone along the inner edge to just below the diaphragm line. The esophagus moves right into the stomach reflex.
Again, look at both feet and imagine that part of your body from the diaphragm to the waist. This is the upper abdominal area, housing many organs and structures. Rest your hands on this area of your body; your thumbs naturally rest on the edges of your ribs as your fingertips touch in the center. A strong casing of muscles protects the organs within. The stomach is the next organ you encounter. The stomach is J-shaped, with most of the fatty part of the letter in the left upper portion of the abdomen. The reflex for the stomach is reflected on both feet.
The lower portion of the stomach moves toward the intestines. A valve at the end of the stomach keeps the processed food from re-entering the stomach. This valve is known as the pyloric sphincter. The reflex for the pyloric sphincter is found only on the right foot, as the curve of the stomach moves into the right side of the body with this part of the organ.
The Deep Organs
Move in deeper as you begin to picture the organs that sit behind or below the stomach. The pancreas lies behind the stomach and like the stomach connects with the small intestine. This gland is an accessory structure situated outside the gastrointestinal tract, yet it is integral to digestion.
Remember, reflexes are not body parts. A reflex is a point that energetically reflects the area of the body that it represents. One way reflexology connects to areas of the body is through the nervous system. When you reflex points, you are sending energetic and electric messages to encourage homeostasis.
The liver lies completely on the right side of the body and the gallbladder is tucked in under the liver. These two glands deal with bile, which is important for digestion. The stomach, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder all empty into the duodenum, the piece of the intestines that connects with the pyloric sphincter just about right of the center of the waistline.
The reflexes for these organs or structures are reflected on the coinciding feet. The liver and gallbladder are only on the right foot, whereas the pancreas is on both feet, just as in the body. The duodenum is found on the right foot.
Another organ that is found in the upper abdomen is the spleen. The spleen sits behind the larger portion of the stomach, completely on the left side of the body. This organ is important as a storage site of plasma, red blood cells, and lymph. The spleen eats old red blood cells and delivers recycled iron to the liver. This organ helps the immune system with the production of disease-fighting B and T cells. The reflex for the spleen is found only on the left foot, tucked under the outer ledge of the sole, along the diaphragm line.
The Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys, one on each side of the body, behind the liver and the stomach, tucked up under the last set of ribs. These tiny bean-shaped glands produce important steroidal hormones. The adrenals secrete mineral hormones essential to the homeostasis of water, sodium, and potassium. The reflexes for the adrenal glands are found just above the waistline guideline in the center of each foot.
Another group of hormones from the adrenal glands deals with metabolism and stress. These hormones work to produce enough energy in the body. The adrenals secrete estrogens and androgens, which are male and female sex hormones. Two other important secretions produce the fight-or-flight response.
The Middle Back
Think about your middle back, that area that begins just below your shoulder blades and ends at your waist. The ribs and the muscles that cover the ribs form the midback region of the body. These protect the inner organs and the spinal column. Many people have back pain in this region often from improper standing, sitting, and walking. Of course, for some people the pain many generate through repetitive movement. The reflexes for this section of the body are found on the top of the foot, from just below the toes to the center of the top where the metatarsals end.
The Lower Back
The back does continue down into the sacral and coccyx region of the body. In reflexology, this section of the body is represented on the dorsal surface of the foot and again when you work with the spine reflex. If you continue on the top of the foot when you are working the middle-back reflex, you will walk right on into the lower-back reflex. This brings you to the bones behind the metatarsals just in front of the ankle.