I am regularly asked why I chose to develop this technique – Zu Qigong, specifically for working on the feet. Firstly, as a holistic therapist specialising in reflexology, I have spent many years working primarily on the feet, and as this journey began as a result of my trying to unravel the mechanisms of reflexology, feet were naturally the focus of my attention. This therapeutic approach is also based on the principles of Qigong and the theories of the meridian system. In Qigong the feet present two of the five “gateways” in to the energy network – the left and right Yong Quan points, therefore the feet presented a natural starting point for the development of Zu Qigong.
Although working on the feet, Zu Qigong is NOT reflexology in the classical interpretation – no thumb walking, application of only minimal pressure, no reference to specific reflexes or the physiology of disease and no use of different protocols to treat specific problems or target various client groups. This is a holistic approach using energy work, the vibration of life (Qi), gentle touch following a simple routine and is proving to be very beneficial for clients, promoting deep relaxation.
So, what are the benefits of working on the feet? From the technical perspective;
- Half of all the physical regular meridians begin or end in the feet.
- As defined in reflexology, the feet give us complete access to the reflected anatomy of the left and right sides of the body without the therapist having to move around.
- Working on the feet, we can assist both sides of the body simultaneously.
- The feet are relatively easy to access and allow the therapist to work without encroaching too far into the client’s personal space.
- The plantar surface of the feet provides an area that is free from acupoints, other than K1 (Yong Quan), enabling the therapist to clearly differentiate between the physical and reflected energy pathways.
- The feet and lower legs provide direct access to the four secondary Extraordinary Vessels. The Extraordinary Vessels are very important in the efficacy of Zu Qigong.
In my own practice I spend part of my working week providing therapies for hospitalised palliative care patients, in this environment working on the feet has significant advantages. Many patients are confined to bed and are receiving a range of clinical interventions; intravenous fluids, subcutaneous infusions via syringe driver pumps, wearing pain relief patches, on oxygen therapy etc. all of which have the potential to make access for touch therapies slightly awkward, particularly if trying to work on the hands and arms. Working on the feet effectively enables direct touch without interfering in the delivery of other therapeutic interventions.
One highly significant factor for all therapists to consider is the current climate of sensitivity regarding socially inappropriate behaviour and interaction, many people have become very wary of both giving and receiving touch therapies. We worry about what is and is not appropriate, how our actions may be interpreted, and many people tend to feel very awkward and embarrassed about removing clothing. Working on the feet offers an acceptable therapeutic approach that bypasses some of the perceived stigma associated with touch and, as stated above, also avoids the embarrassment of removing clothing.
Inevitably there will always be clients who are very uncomfortable about anyone touching or indeed seeing their feet, it is simply a matter of choice – other therapies are available.