Many foot-related problems, such as bunions, are caused by faulty mechanics in the foot, where too much pressure and stress are frequently placed on the wrong parts of the feet while walking. This causes your big toe to point awkwardly and unnaturally towards the rest of your toes. However, abnormal walking patterns might not be the only risk factor for bunions as they may also be genetically inherited. The use of tight or ill-fitting shoes can only aggravate the situation. Reflexology is just one of the many alternative therapies that can help treat bunions. (Related: A guide to treating bunions with alternative medicine.)
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it's believed the spleen is meant to nourish the muscles and tissues that "hold things up and in place." The meridian of the spleen and pancreas begins on the outer edge of both big toes and continues up the legs, passing through the pelvis and abdomen, and ending at the shoulder. If the spleen is unable to nourish the muscles, the muscles may weaken, and that area of the foot may suffer from congestion and poor circulation. Bunions are believed to be caused by a deficiency related to the spleen organ due to this lack of circulation in the affected area. Continued congestion in this area may result in other symptoms, such as stiffness, fungus, and ingrown toenails.
Reflexology works by applying pressure to certain points of the body that can help stimulate the body's own self-healing process. It can open up blocked channels or meridians to allow healing energy to flow throughout the body and improve circulation. Gently kneading on and around the area of the bunion can help relieve some of the pain and help restore balance to the spleen.
One good way to massage your big toe is to treat it as though it were a gear stick in a car. Do this by firmly taking hold of your big toe. Make sure that your fingers are gripping it below the level of your nail but above the large area of your foot near the bunion. Gently pull your toe outwards and hold this position. If your toe were your gear stick, this position would be your "neutral" position. You should feel a wider amount of space in your toe joint as you do this. Now, gently push your big toe down, then return to the neutral position. Next, pull your big toe up, then return to the neutral position. Continue the process by pushing your toe to the left, then returning it to the neutral position. Follow it up by pushing the toe to the left, then finally putting it back to the neutral position. Once you are done, release your big toe. Repeat this process every day to keep the joint of your foot flexible. It will also bring soothing relief to your stiff bunion. After a few months, your toe joint should be much more flexible, and the inflammation of your bunion should have decreased significantly.
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