Even if your shoe wardrobe has shifted from summer sleek to rain ready, you should ensure that your tips and toes are always in top shape. Furthermore, your feet carry you literally through all your stages of life, and have probably done this in some of the most torturous footwear available. Whether your peds have been squeezed and squished into flats or killer heels, supported by workout trainers or allowed some open freedom with flip-flops, they are in need of regular TLC. Alternative medicine believes that the feet house all the nerve endings of the organs and muscles in our body, and encourage massage therapies such as reflexology to help the flow of “chi” or life force. I take my feet seriously, believing that dry calloused skin, plus ungroomed nails, are a total turn-off, not to mention that tired, aching feet can lead to even more discomfort throughout the rest of my body so I make time for a serious “feet treat” once a week. Until recently, most foot reflexology centers were dimly lit, crowded venues with therapists who just made you sit down and went to work. A very impersonal experience and uncomfortable for some since the general ambiance was reminiscent of an establishment of ill-repute. Still, many flocked to these places believing that having their feet pressed and prodded had therapeutic benefits. I can still remember going with two of my gay friends to a foot massage place in Cebu, as they were local, they knew the lay of the land and we still recount with laughter at how we cringed, whined and practically screamed when our feet were being manipulated by giggling foot therapists. But, we all slept like the dead that night, so we couldn’t discount that, at the very least, something must have worked.
Nowadays, foot spas are aplenty and there is a range of services to choose from, in terms of just the bare-bones foot massage to an all-out pod pampering. At the recently opened The Reflex Zone, there are two treatments on offer, one for adults and one for kids. Simple. It was explained to me that this center practiced the Rwo Shur Health Method of Reflexology and that all the therapists were male and had undergone strict training in this particular method. As a backgrounder, Rwo Shur was developed by Fr. Josef Eugster, a Swiss Catholic priest and a missionary in Taiwan who got into reflexology because of his own need to be healed. In 1977, at only 37 years old, he was suffering from a debilitating severe rheumatoid arthritis in his knees. After consulting several physicians, it was a friend who convinced him to try reflexology — telling him that the cause of his ailments was rooted in the imbalance of his internal organs and could be treated by curing through pressing on various pressure points found in the feet. My 80-minute treatment which started off with my feet soaked in gel bath (P1,000) was quite soothing, although I would have preferred a more comfortable chair. Thankfully, there was also a short back massage included and we were given a bottle of water to drink after the treatment. I was instructed to not shower for a couple of hours and not to eat a heavy meal that night. The therapists were all very polite and there was even a chart you could read to see what parts of the foot corresponded to a particular organ or ailment. For a no-frills treatment in a comfortable setting, this is good place to literally “cool” your heels.
At The Neo Spa in Fort Bonifacio and its sister spa Ki Spa in Greenhills you get myriad choices on how much pampering your peds need. In terms of massage there is the Ingham Method of Reflexology which is the result of the combined work of the late Eunice Ingham, the founder of reflexology, and her nephew Dwight Byers, head and founder of the International Institute of Reflexology. It was Singaporean Master Reflexologist George Tay, the Asian representative of the International Institute of Reflexology, who trained their reflexologists. A 60-minute session can cost anywhere between P600 and P900. You can extend your treatment to also include a short back massage. If you want to try something more locally inspired then there is also the Bamboo Foot Massage (anywhere from P850 to P1,150/ session). This is an authentic and indigenous tribal foot massage that uses herbal clay to cleanse and purify one’s feet and then bamboo sticks to stimulate the soles. Afterwards, deep strokes of hagod relieve the feet, which helps in regulating blood pressure, improves blood circulation, lessens stress and hormonal imbalance. This is a gentler alternative to traditional reflexology, which may not be for everybody’s discomfort thresholds. You can complete any of the abovementioned treatments with a foot spa and pedicure if you have time to spare.
Last but not least, if you want to go for luxe, check out the treatments at Dusit Thani Hotel’s Devarana Spa. You can opt for a private room, although it would be wise to call ahead and see if the hotel has any ongoing events. The spa is located right beside the pool area so you may not get the peace and quiet you would like if there is something happening. If you are going to indulge go for their 1-2 punch of Reflexology (P2,700++) plus Aromatic Pedicure (P2,200++). You start off with a gentle sea salt scrub that sloughs off dead, calloused skin and leaves your soles refreshed as pressure is then applied in reflexology fashion. The pedicure that follows is so thorough your feet and nails feel squeaky clean and “younger looking,” with the added bonus of being prettified with a couple of coats of Chanel nail polish.
Remember, throughout every journey in life your feet walk with you every step of the way. Treat ‘em right.
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For more information on The Reflex Zone, Pasong Tamo ext., Makati call 812-0050 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For Ki by Neo Day Spa-Greenhills, call: 584-6789 or 584-6066. For Neo Day Spa-Bonifacio Global City call: 815-8233 or 815-6948. For Devarana Spa at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati call 818-7081 or e-mail email@example.com.