Those who resort to begging their significant others for shoulder rubs and foot massages should run, skip, and hop over to the new Footworks Relaxology studio in Kitsilano. Think traditional Asian reflexology and acupressure massage, but in a modern spa-like atmosphere. Orchids, brown leather armchairs, dark wood panelling, and privacy curtains are just some of the nouveau Zen decor details inside the upscale space. It's an inviting place that won't intimidate reflexology newbies like myself, which is exactly what owners Nancy Hannoun and Jenny Shin were aiming for.
For those who've never heard of it, reflexology is based on the belief that acupressure points in the feet correspond to different parts of the body. Firmly massaging these acupressure points leads to health benefits for other parts of your body such as your brain, vital organs, and joints.
My Footworks appointment last night was my first foray into reflexology. After being given green tea, I took off my rainboots and rolled up my denim leggings to my knees. The hour-long treatment began with a relaxing foot soak comprised of warm water, rocks, and pure unscented rock salt. My reflexologist then applied an exfoliating scrub and buffed the skin on soles of my feet before rubbing unscented body butter into my feet and up my calves.
After that came the massage. You can lean back with your eyes closed and doze at this point, but I wanted to pick my reflexologist's brain and learn more about this ancient practice. As she rubbed holly massage oil into my feet, she pressed and kneaded pressure points I wasn't even aware I had. Some points felt like nothing while others were very intense. The most intense spots on my left foot corresponded to my brain (top of the left big toe) and my kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract (near the inner arch of the left foot). I've been feeling some mental fatigue since starting my new job and for the past couple of years I've dealt with recurring urinary tract infections; it was uncanny how a few tense spots on the sole of my foot mapped so well to the rest of my body.
As the treatment progressed, I learned other interesting factoids about reflexology. For instance, did you know that there are three major schools--China, the United States and a growing European school? And that sometimes these schools disagree on which body parts respond to which pressure points? And the pressure points on your feet aren't symmetrical, so the same points on your left and right foot can twig into completely different body parts? I didn't.
By the end, I was so relaxed I almost dozed off. I walked out of Footworks with a new spring in my step. Nancy explained that the benefits of a reflexology treatment can be felt for days afterward in the feet and throughout the rest of the body, so chances are that spring in my step will last for quite some time yet.
A big thank-you to Footworks for letting me try one of their treatments. For more information or to book an appointment, check out their website.