Get outside, go for a walk and take your shoes off! One of my favourite destinations to combine all three is the Jenna K. Morrison Reflexology Footpath in Dufferin Grove Park. (You can read more about the history and design of the footpath in this article.) It’s an opportunity for urban feet to enjoy a change of pace from flat concrete.
Walking the infinity loop becomes a moving meditation. My over-active brain starts to quiet and I experience a tranquility amid the busy hum of the park. I feel more connected to my body and to nature (at least as close as I can get in my neighbourhood).
Navigating my bare feet over a variety of textures is simultaneously stimulating and relaxing. Some of the features are almost painful, but as my feet relax, they become more comfortable.
Based on traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology footpaths are designed to be therapeutic. They stimulate and regulate body function through “acupoints” on the soles of the feet.
A study at the Oregon Research Institute used cobblestone mats to replicate the real deal. “Compared to conventional walking, the experience of walking on the river rock-like surface . . . improved participants’ balance, measures of mobility, as well as reducing their blood pressure.”
Tips for Enjoying the FootPath
- Walk barefoot or with socks; minimal shoes (like moccasins or FiveFingers) work but not as well.
- Take it easy; move slowly and take breaks when needed.
- Notice any tender or painful spots. Allow your feet to soften and relax. Check out this reflexology chart below to see the connections to other body parts. It might surprise you!
- Spread your toes and ease them between the little stones. Work your feet over and around the larger stones. You want to mobilize and massage your entire foot.
- Walk the path regularly and gradually increase the time you spend.
Finally, don’t forget to breathe! It will help release tension, reduce pain and nourish your cells all the way to your toes.
I’ve started braving the path in winter too, even with a bit of ice and snow. It’s so invigorating! Part of my immune-boosting winter wellness routine. If you decide to try it on a cold day, be sure to wear warm woolly socks and boots for the walk home. You don’t want to get chilled.
Not near The Grove? Design your own barefoot garden and sensation path to recreate the benefits at home. Abby Quillen shows you how here.
Let me know if you visit. Or if you create your own path. I would love to hear about your experience.