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How to Give a Wonderful Reflex Foot Rub, Part One: The Relaxers

Updated on July 3, 2014

In the event the above video does not load into your browser, there is a second choice to view it by playing the YouTube twin at the bottom of the article. Please let me know of any issues.

Cramped into seats in the tail end of a full trans-continental plane, we felt as though the walls were closing in on us and there was no air to breathe.

Kati, as a highly sensitive person, was starting to feel the effects of overstimulation and low oxygen on a crowded flight from Los Angeles to Auckland. She could not sleep or rest.

I said, "Take off your shoes and put your feet on the arm rest." She did, and in less than twenty minutes of receiving a specialized foot rub, was fast asleep.

The year after we met, I practiced foot reflexology in the south of Spain. The husband of a client called and told me, "Whatever you are doing, just keep doing it!" He was amazed at the improvement in his wife's feeling of well-being and disposition.

On the island of Hawai'i, I taught foot reflexology to couples. They learned to give a loving and attentive reflex foot rub to each other and deeper bonds were formed. One woman told me her mother had, since youth, given herself reflexology every day. The great-grandmother was spry, and with a keen mind at the age of ninety-two still giving herself daily reflexology on the soles of her feet.

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is acupressure on reflex points to improve circulation, relieve tension and balance the body systems. These reflex points are found wherever there are higher concentrations of nerve endings such as on the hands, ears and feet. The feet are an especially fine place to practice reflexology as each foot has over 7,000 nerve endings.

After completing a certification course in foot reflexology from an accredited school of massage, over the past fourteen years I have used it often for friends and family.

In our experience with conventional medicine (Kati has been a nurse for many years) and alternative approaches, we are convinced to use alternatives whenever possible. Reflexology and energy medicine may not present a fast fix, but with an optimal combination of provider and recipient it is possible to generate remarkable healings and transformations as we have witnessed. I feel that with alternative therapies of this type, the most important factors are the intent of the giver and the receptivity of the receiver.

Reflexology does not diagnose, treat, or replace conventional medicine and the safe use of instructions herein is the responsibility of the reader/viewer. If the recipient has any medical issues that could apply, a professional should be consulted before receiving the first session. Also, in some countries and U.S. states, laws are quite strict about meeting certain requirements before practicing alternative therapies for pay. If you have in mind to receive payment for giving reflexology, please check your local laws to avoid conflict.


To support assertions of its long history, practitioners point to reliefs on the walls of an Egyptian tomb (c. 2450 B.C.) which depict two seated men receiving massage on their hands and feet. In ancient Greece, Aulus Cornelius Celsus (influenced by Hippocrates,) wrote of rubbing parts of the body other than the felt center of pain. This is the meaning of reflex, in that points in the feet are said to correspond to the organs, glands, systems and structure of the entire body.

In the 1930s, an American nurse and physiotherapist (Eunice D. Ingham) mapped those "reflex points" on the feet to the body and renamed "zone therapy" to reflexology. Today, the foot maps seen on cards and posters will vary - due to copyright restrictions which prevent exact duplication. Reflexology is one of the most used alternative therapies in some countries. When I offer it to Kati, though, I simply ask "Would you like a foot rub?"

Starting with this article I coined the term "reflex foot rub."

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Used by permission.
Used by permission.
Used by permission. | Source

Preparation for a Wonderful Foot Rub

A reflex foot rub may last from 15 to 45 minutes. It has a specific sequence, which can be expanded or condensed as needed. Certainly it will be done differently among practitioners. My instructor gave her students (for practice between weekend classes) an audio tape of her sequence. It was quite long, detailed, complex and excellent. Learning it really required attending the full course.

With her permission I transcribed Whitehawk's audio sequence and over the first years followed it precisely. At some point, however, I trusted myself enough to depart from the sequence and modified it into one that is simpler and has proven just as effective. This hub will give instructions for the first segment of a session, called "the relaxers."

Like anything, a reflex foot rub can be made ordinary or extraordinary according to the quality of attention give to detail.

Attention to Detail

Both the giver and receiver of the foot rub should be in a comfortable position and well hydrated. A glass of room temperature pure water is suggested for the recipient to sip after the session.

The recipient should be advised beforehand to get up from the lying position slowly and to 'take their time' coming back to ordinary consciousness. Sensitive clients have told me they left their bodies during a session or had visions. The deep relaxation and energy exchange provides "metaphysical possibilities" and experiences of course will vary.

When applying pressure to the reflex points, fingernail edges can be unpleasant to the recipient. It is recommended that the fingernails of the giver are cut short if possible and filed smoothly. Some recipients like to soak their feet in warm water with bath salts before the session.

Consider having on hand a bottle of lotion or scented oil for the finishing touch, plus the option in the room of soft music and low lighting. The room temperature will ideally be slightly on the warm side, with no cold drafts. A light cover is offered to the recipient. If there are no sensitivites, a light aroma such as incense can heighten the experience. The sound of a Tibetan bell may start the session.

The feet can be raised, with the heels overhanging a cushion so each foot moves easily.

Seven Relaxers

The number of repetitions on each relaxer can be between seven and eleven.

1. Ball parallel cradling

Begin by cupping the palms of both hands on the foot at the ball as shown on the video. It is suggested that all motions be made slowly to begin. When a foot is stiff, or resistant to movement, it should not be forced. Move the hands back and forth to help the foot and ankle relax. In general, at least one hand stays in touch with the foot throughout the session, so the giver does not lift both hands at the same time from the foot.

2. Ankle parallel cradling

The next movement is made with the heels of the hands placed between the ankles and the heel on both sides of the foot. Optimal positions are found when the hands become well-seated to the foot. Move the hands back and forth as shown on the video, allowing the foot to loosen further.

3. Ankle circles

Seat one hand into position straddling the top of the foot into its 'saddle' as shown. With the other hand hold the foot firmly with the thumb at the ball and the fingers across the top of the foot. Move the foot in smooth, even circles - clockwise seven to eleven times, then counter-clockwise seven to eleven times.

4. Ball kneading

Hold the foot with one hand cupped behind the top and move that hand with the foot as you apply the fist of the other hand to the ball of the foot. The foot moves towards the person and away in smooth movements. The relaxers can be connected to each other as the video shows.

5. Bottom smoothing

With the foot held firmly in place with one hand cupping the top, use the other hand to stroke the sole from the heel to the ball with a medium firm pressure of the fingers. Too light pressure may tickle! As always, adjust the instructions to the comfort of the recipient.

6. Toe cuddling

Cup both hands around the toes for one to two minutes. If the giver is sensitive to subtle energies, this is a good place to envision the warming energy of light soaking into the toes. Move from holding the toes to smoothing them.

7. Toe smoothing

Using the thumbs and fingers of both hands, smooth the toes in an upward motion using several strokes. There is no need to count, just stroke for as long as it feels well.

8. Toe circles

Toe circles bridge between the seven relaxers and the reflex point sequence.

Hold the base of the great toe firmly between the forefinger and thumb of one hand. With the other hand, grasp the toe and pull while moving the toe in smooth circles. As my instructor said, it is like pulling a cherry from the tree. Circle the toe clockwise and counter-clockwise. Move to the next toe and circle. And the next toe and circle. And the next toe and circle. And the baby toe and circle.

The next hub (How to Give Foot Reflexology on the Chakra Points) presents instruction for giving a simplified and highly effective reflex rub that focuses on the points on the feet which correspond to the chakra energy centers of the body.

In the meantime, practice the relaxers. Happy rubbing, hubbers.


Foot provided by Kati Smith

Voice and hands by Gary R. Smith

Music by Runestone / Secrets of Avalon

Presented by Emanate Presence


The demonstration was recorded using a Logitech HD Pro Webcam. Post-production was done in Windows Movie Maker. For those who cannot view the top video due to browser issues, etc., the same video (posted on YouTube) is presented below.

Tell us your experience with giving or receiving reflex foot rubs.

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    • profile image

      Angux 2 years ago


      It is nice to know people interested in Reflexology. In this web page you can find aditional Foot Charts:

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Great hub!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Started learning reflexology(from a book) when my husband was ill. It was amazing how I could help him control pain then sleep with reflexology. It certainly helped our attitudes. I wasn't angry at him for retreating in pain and he slept peacefully and healed.

    • Emanate Presence profile image

      Gary R. Smith 4 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Hi Casimiro,

      Thanks so much for letting me know the video did not load for you. It is a big help and prompted me to upload the video to YouTube and post it to this hub from there as a 'back-up.' Would you let me know if you can view the YT version at the bottom of the Hub?

      I'd like to talk with you sometime about Costa Rica, as Kati and I have personal interest.

    • profile image

      Casimiro 5 years ago

      For some reason the video didn't load for me, but it might be that I'm using a different browser than usual. In any case, your instructions are very clear and easy to understand so the video would probably be icing on the cake. Thanks!

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi! Thank you for a wonderful hub. I am surprised how few people know about the benefits of reflexology but I guess like most alternative techniques it will reach the main stream soon enough.

      I was trained in Peru (interesting you did it in Spain)! And performed on elderly folks that were home bound and the results were quite profound. I think they felt loved in a unique way and were so appreciative! It is easy to do and is so helpful as you know for many conditions. The trick as you describe is to know which part of the foot corresponds to which part of the body.

      Great job!