Reflexology Path


It was a conference in Tokyo in 1990 that hooked us on the idea, one we call the reflexology path.

He was a vigorous 80 years old, passionate about the topic of his presentation: walking the graveled road. Mr. Keichi told of the elderly couple who did not want to be a burden to their family. To seek the best performance from their bodies, they walked to a nearby shrine each day barefooted on the gravel road, a gravel and paved surface common to their part of Japan. One day the father died peacefully “by going away like a candle.” Mr. Keichi encouraged us all to walk the graveled road.

Abe Shunuchi talked about spear heading the efforts of his company Shiseido cosmetics to build a health stroll path, voted on by employees as a means of improving health and work at the factory. The purpose would be achieved by designing a walkway of various surfaces on which to walk barefoot to stimulate the reflex areas of the feet.

The Shiseido reflexology path is a seventy-five meter walk around an irregular rectangle, surrounded by green grass, trees and a picnic table. The walking time is 15 minutes. And, yes, research at Shiseido showed his efforts accomplished an improved productivity and a gradual decrease in health care costs.

Both beautiful and functional, reflexology paths are a self-applied form of pressure to the feet where the body’s weight and gravity create what researchers from Oregon Research Institute called “enhanced walking.” We became interested in how and why various cultures around the world construct and use the paths. We documented and considered the paths from around the world.

Kunz and Kunz have hypothesized for years that reflexology work is an exercise, influencing the body through pressure applied to the feet. The influence results from the pressure exerted during a reflexologist’s work, self-applied techniques – or walking on surfaces other than those that are flat and smooth.

Think of it as virtual jogging. The pattern of pressure to the feet while one is jogging plays a role in signaling the body to respond in a healthy manner. Pressure applied to the feet through reflexology work or cobblestone walking utilizes the same mechanisms as jogging, providing an opportunity to exercise to the body and producing healthy results.

Chinese researchers further link reflexology work to exercise. They speculate that the success of a reflexology program evolves from how it is applied. An appropriate frequency, duration and intensity in the application of reflexology technique will produce results. An exercise program is seen to succeed if the exercise is practiced with an appropriate frequency, duration and intensity. (Feng Jinqi and Fan Chunmei, “Chinese Research: A Concept of the Strength of Stimulation in Reflexology,” 1996 China Reflexology Symposium Report, China Reflexology Association )

For more information: The Reflexology Path