To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Body & Spa: Myofascial Treatment for Natural Foot Health,” by Aaron Gustafson, L.M.T., C.A.M.T. II, in the June 2013 issue. Article summary: Destination spas have become holistic lifestyle-and-education resources, and your spa clientele will look to you as a valuable member of their health care team. As sporting activities grow in popularity at spas, active clients will benefit from a massage therapist who understands their primary means of locomotion: Their feet.
Imagine a picture-perfect day: You are standing on the beach, just where the gentle waves reach your feet. You work your feet into the sand until they are covered. Looking down, you appear footless, rooted like a tree. And you are. You are planted and grounded. Looking out to the sea, you feel limitless.
If you allow yourself to explore the dynamics of your stance—in your toes, arches and heels—you will feel the tripod that gives us stability and balance: big toe plus little toe plus heel.
Our toes do two very important things for us: They provide balance and they help propel us forward while we walk or run. In fact, when we walk or run, most of the support for our entire upper body is managed by the largest toes on each foot and the balls of our feet.
We have 33 joints and 26 bones in each foot; the 14 in our toes are among the smallest bones in our body. We pound on the joints and bones in our feet every day, and don’t give them much thought until we are in pain. At that point, we can be stopped in our tracks.
What can you do for clients to honor these precious appendages? Here is a treatment plan for using CoreStones in the spa.
1. Starting with the client supine, gently massage her feet, then place warm soapstone discs between her toes. (I use soapstone because of its unique properties of heat retention.)
2. Then, tie a heated soapstone nestled in a fleece wrap to the arch of the foot and cover this with a warm bootie. Let her feet luxuriate in this warmth while massaging her upper body. By the time you get back to the feet, the muscles should have relaxed enough for you to begin a therapeutic foot massage.
3. With CoreStones, I can work deeply into the feet, delivering warmth and pressure simultaneously to release tight muscles. The angled design of the reflexology stone provides an effective way to work specific points or to strip the muscles in the foot.
4. Used lengthwise, a CoreStone will give you a broad surface for compression and myofascial release. I find this especially helpful for clients who suffer from plantar fasciitis.
Attention to the feet is one of the most-asked-for and appreciated aspects of a full-body massage—and with good reason. Our feet are our foundation, and the stronger we make our foundation, the easier it will be for us to move through life.
Dale Montelione Grust is co-founder of CoreStones Inc. (www.corestonemassage.com). She is a New York-licensed massage therapist and nationally approved provider of continuing education through the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Grust has owned and operated a group practice since 1987.