Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient health practice dating back thousands of years… to around 2300 B.C. to be exact! One specific TCM technique still being used overseas is called “reflexology.” However, it has recently experienced a surge in popularity in the Western world as a legitimate medical practice that can treat a variety of physical ailments. According to Hands on Feet, UK reflexologist Rosanna Bickerton’s website:
“Chinese Reflexology is the ancient art of working pressure points on the feet, hands and ears that correspond to different parts of the body… [It’s] believed to stimulate elimination, improve circulation and support the immune system. The Chinese believe it restores the body’s equilibrium of yin and yang, encourages healing and strengthens the body.”
Reflexology principles are arguably the most natural, non-invasive treatment available. What many people don’t realize, however, is that this makes it a perfect alternative tool for helping calm down babies. They experience stress, anxiety, discomfort, joy, and everything in between much like adults do.
But since they lack the ability to convey what’s troubling them, babies will often respond to physical pain simply by crying. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ancient and modern practitioners of reflexology believe this healing method can effectively determine what your baby is experiencing and how you can remedy it.
Baby Reflexology Foot Guide, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine
Babies are said to be much more responsive to reflexology than full-grown adults. This is mainly because they are generally more receptive and sensitive to physical touch in general. When a baby or child is in distress, it is our natural response to physically comfort them by holding them, rubbing their backs, and other similar acts… sometimes to no avail. However, having knowledge of these reflexology principles could ease a baby’s pain much more effectively and directly than anything else.
In Chinese foot reflexology, you must apply pressure – gently since you’re helping more fragile little humans – to certain points on the feet. Depending where on their feet you press, you can help treat a variety of health problems associated with the corresponding body parts. The color-coated guide above shows these body parts, and which area of the baby’s feet can affect them and hopefully lead to relief.
Parents & Caregivers: It’s extremely important to realize that foot reflexology will likely not treat your baby’s problem- it is a traditional method for soothing. Although an underlyin condition may be associated with one of the ailments listed in the image above, it may not be. So when your inherent parental instincts start warning you something’s wrong, trust them and take your newborn to a doctor to be safe. During all of this, you can use the following Chinese reflexology principles to help provide them with as much soothing relief as possible.
Head & Teeth
To treat problems involving the head and teeth, reflexology principles call for you to rub the tips of their toes. This is great for treating many health issues that occur above the neck such as ear infections, which are very common among babies. You will likely notice your child or grandchild experiencing pain in this area when they are teething, so make sure you remember to gently massage their toes to help soothe their pain.
According to traditional Chinese reflexology, you can address sinus pain by visiting the toes again. But this time, you’re going to want to focus on an even smaller point – the centers of the tips of their toes (as pictured above). Applying pressure to the center of a child’s toes can help reduce the severity of a variety of sinus problems; this could range from a runny nose to the common cold or other respiratory problems. Although this is by no means a cure for any illness, reflexologists believe doing this can reduce their symptoms and make them more bearable for the baby.
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The part associated with the chest is the top of the foot, right over top of the arch. Performing reflexology on this area provides similar effects to the sinus area, in that it can help congestion. However, this area may help relieve congestion in the chest rather than the sinuses, making it effective for soothing symptoms associated with chronic coughs or colds that cause phlegm build-ups.
The solar plexus is a complex collection of nerves located between the stomach and the lungs. It is hard to narrow down the cause of solar plexus pain due to its location and variety of nerve endings. However, reflexology principles maintain that it can be soothed by applying gently pressure near the upper area of the foot’s arch (i.e., the ‘orange dot’ area right before the arch ends and the foot meets the ground).
Upper & Lower Abdomen
The area of the foot that corresponds with the abdomen is the entire arch of the foot. The upper abdomen correlates with the upper half of the arch. Performing reflexology on this area of the baby’s foot can help with digestive issues such as bowel obstruction and heartburn.
The lower abdomen correlates with the lower half of the arch. Performing reflexology on this area can help with post-digestive issues such as constipation and bloating, which may be factors behind your baby’s discomfort.
The heels of a baby’s foot correspond with their pelvic area. Issues that commonly affect the pelvic area of a baby include muscle tightness and postural problems. Using reflexology principles, TCM practitioners have helped relieve that type of pain by applying pressure to the heel area of the foot.
In conclusion, remember that reflexology…
Is only effective at reducing pain caused by certain conditions and other specific symptoms. It is by no means a “cure-all” for certain diseases and should not replace proper medical attention that your baby would require if suffering from a critical condition. It is simply meant to increase their comfort, as well as yours, during periods of pain and stress.
Watch this video to master 5 basic foot reflexology techniques!
For more information on reflexology and how it can benefit you, read: Help Relieve Joint Pain Without Drugs with Simple Reflexology Techniques
University of Minnesota. (n.d.). What Does the Research Say about Reflexology? Retrieved from http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology/what-does-research-say-about-refloxology
Bauer, B. A., M.D. (2015, September 23). What is reflexology? Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/what-is-reflexology/faq-20058139
Manfredi, T., PhD. (n.d.). Pain in Solar Plexus. Retrieved from http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/16265/1/Pain-in-Solar-Plexus.html
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