Don’t fail me now! Amatsu perspectives on foot care.
Amatsu therapy employs the skill of Seitai (true body) in assessing and re-balancing the structure of the body. The modern practitioner utilizes observation, palpation and orthopedic tests to determine postural adaptations and what effects they may have upon the client; keeping in mind that, not all changes in the body structure are necessarily, ‘faults to be corrected’. The traditional knowledge base of Amatsu contains the Trinitarian principle of Ten Chi Jin ‘Heaven, Earth & Man’. Applied to the body, this refers to the head, feet and pelvis respectively and recognizes the importance that these three key areas have to overall well-being.
Naturally, the feet are symbolized by the Earth, owing to the obvious connection with the ground and it being a foundational body structure. However, a healthy, happy foot is not a solid, inert mass, but is dynamic and fluid; adapting to ever changing situations in movement and terrain. Because of this, a typical Amatsu session begins at the feet.
Of particular interest is the Hallux aka ‘the big toe’. The functional quality of this digit and associated joint is crucial for a number of reasons. From an energetic perspective, the corners of the nail bed contain terminal points for both the spleen and liver meridians. According to Amatsu Grandmaster Dr Masaaki Hatsumi:
“You should exercise your big toes by rotating them ninety times a day. This is an exercise to keep your liver and pancreas in good health. This is also said to be effective for women’s beauty and men’s sexual potency. Rotation of the big toe and the ankle joints will help increase the energy flow in the body.”
This basic technique can be very subtle energetically and stimulate the meridians for a detoxifying effect. Acupuncturists will be familiar with the notion of using distal points to achieve widespread changes throughout the body. In addition to these benefits, the big toe plays a vital role in walking and maintaining balance.
For Homo sapiens to become upright and bipedal, the body underwent numerous evolutionary changes. In particular, the location of the big toe shifted to the front of the foot rather than protruding out at the side as it does in primates such as the chimpanzee.
This and other adaptations permit our upright walking gait, with the ligaments of the foot directing movement forces toward the big toe. Ideally, these forces should begin at the heel as it strikes the ground, travel along the outside edge of the foot and then back across the toes to the ball of the foot. The big toe should then flex and provide a stable basis from which the next step can be initiated. If the transfer of weight is unable to exit properly, the natural flow of our gait is impaired and stressful body changes can arise. Left untreated, knee and hip problems may develop. In fact, over time, postural distortions might spread, giving rise to seemingly unrelated symptoms such as TMJ dysfunction and other cranial imbalances. Given the holistic outlook of Amatsu, it is possible for the reverse to be true also with cranial faults being the source of poor foot function. Other considerations include: arthritis, impact injuries, pelvic imbalance and congenital problems.
Application of Amatsu massage and Seitai techniques help to repattern the foot and maintain the necessary elasticity and ‘springiness’ of the ligaments and fascia. In closing, the following recommendations can maintain and enhance the effect of an Amatsu session:
a) Check your shoes! Worn out soles & uneven tread can entrench old patterns.
b) Try and walk 20 minutes a day. Allow the arms to be relaxed and swing freely.
c) Remember what it feels like to walk bare foot?
d) Rotate the big toes daily.
e) Keep your feet warm as often as possible. Traditional wisdom advises to “keep the feet warm, the middle in the middle and the head cool” as a recipe for good health.
Submitted by Andrew K Davies, LMT of Enerheal Acupuncture Center located on 11 South Main Street in Marlborough. For more information, call 860 295 1136 or email Andrew@enerheal.com