Health And Family

These heels are for healing

- Enrico Miguel T. Subido -

Manila, Philippines -  Pharaohs. Sovereigns. Emperors. Rajas. Thakurs. Aside from ruling over the ancient civilizations that have shaped our modern world, these great characters had one other thing in common: a medicine man, or medicine men, that specialized in holistic healing via one’s feet.

Today we refer to the practice as “reflexology,” a form of bodywork that focuses primarily on the extremities. What the royal medicine men practiced centuries ago was not mumbo-jumbo. There undoubtedly must have been some initial apprehension on the part of the ruler, though. An awkward introduction like, “I have a solution for your ailments, my lord of lords. May I hold and firmly massage your feet?” would make any mighty leader think twice about what he’s getting himself into. However, the discipline has gone through various stages of discovery through the years, and today, it is recognized by both traditional and alternative medical practitioners as a legitimate form of complementary therapy. The thought of “healing-by-touching-the-feet” sounds weird; even for mortals and non-demigods such as us normal folk. But apparently, it makes sense.

Reflexology states that there are certain reflex areas on one’s extremities that correspond to specific areas on the body. For example, the tips of the toes reflect the head, the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot; liver, pancreas, and kidney are in the arch of the foot, and the lower back and intestines are towards the heel. With so many important connections happening from the feet to the rest of the body, it might be wise to pay a little more attention to them. We might not realize it, but our feet take a beating day in and day out.

Whether it’s walking, strolling, speed walking, jogging, sprinting, dancing, or just plain stepping, your feet are first to feel the stress. And many people, including trainers, health experts, walking enthusiasts, and your mother (who will always comment on your posture and tell you to stand up straight) will point out that you might be walking wrong. Then you say: “I put the left foot in front of the right, then the right in front of the left, and I move in the direction I want to. What’s wrong about that?” Maybe nothing’s wrong with your stride. But what might be happening is that it’s being negatively affected by the type of shoes on your feet.

Many people nowadays speak volumes on the benefits of walking barefoot. According to its proponents, a “naked” foot strengthens the leg muscles more because of its natural position on the ground. Without the aid of artificial support from footwear, the person develops stronger, healthier muscles. Testimonials from practitioners of barefooted-ness include anecdotes on improved mobility, balance, and agility. On that, the body moves more naturally, which is good. Period. And the whole esoteric thing about “feeling the earth beneath your feet” is supposed to have its benefits, too.

Many of us have seen the FIveFingers shoes by Vibram, and will agree that they are, by all means, unconventional. They’re shoes shaped like the feet, after all. Which is weird. But then again, what’s so weird about feet?

“The best design is the human foot,” says Carlos Abad, president of Barefootwear, Inc., distributors or Vibram FiveFingers in the Philippines. “It’s time we realized that we are all the technology that we need.” 

Following the idea that barefoot is better, Vibram FiveFingers is pretty much the closest thing to walking without shoes that one can get — without the hassle of stepping on broken glass, melting asphalt, or getting ringworm. On that, it must be hard to develop a design that is better than one that already exists naturally. But these FiveFingers shoes apparently give wearers the same benefits as walking barefoot. And, if what they say is true, then that’s healthy walking.

If we had pharaohs, sovereigns, emperors, rajas, and thakurs leading us today as they did in the past, how would they feel about the FiveFingers? They’d probably love them. Probably because after wearing them for a while and getting stronger feet and bodies in the process, they would require less awkward consultations with the royal medicine man with a foot fetish.

* * *

Vibram is available at SM Mall of Asia; SM Megamall; TriNoma; Planet Sports (Rockwell, Vmall Greenhills, Newport, and Glorietta); Toby’s (Mall of Asia and Shangri-La); Runnr (BHS, TriNoma, and Ayala Center Cebu); ROX BHS; Urban Athletics Greenbelt and Chimes Davao. For more information, call 845-3850, e-mail [email protected]. Visit the website at www.vibramfivefingers.ph.

E-mail me at [email protected].







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