Linda is a certified therapist in the Foot Zone Balance technique which takes a holistic approach to health through intensive, specific massage of the feet. In addition to providing health benefits, her customers end their sessions with a relaxed, radiant glow -- not unlike that of Linda herself, come to think of it.
Anyone whos ever had their aching feet massaged after a hard day of pounding the pavement can appreciate the basics of what Franklin does, with the exception that her therapy offers to take clients well beyond the benefits of a mere foot rub.
A resident of Traverse City, Franklin is perhaps the only therapist in Michigan who is certified in Foot Zone Balance, a form of reflexology that carries on ancient traditions of foot massage.
For hundreds of years, cultures ranging from the Chinese to the Egyptians have recognized the value of foot massage. The Foot Zone Balance method builds on these traditions, claiming that energy pathways and nerve endings in the feet can influence other parts of the body in a positive way.
The feet represent the total body, Franklin says. When I work on the feet, every cell in the body is represented along with every organ.
The feet are like a keyboard on your computer, she adds. When I work on the pancreas area of your foot, for instance, the feeling goes from your foot to your brain to your pancreas.
She says stimulating the feet can generate an influx of oxygen-rich blood to a damaged organ, along with the sort of energy described by the Eastern medical concept of the chakra system of the body. Its opening energy up to organs that are not getting good energy. What Im doing is just assisting your body to work better.
Often, theres an emotional release as stress is literally massaged out of the body.
Everyone is so different. What I experienced after the first time I had my feet zoned felt like a full body massage. I just felt really relaxed. Some people feel really emotional, while others feel like theyre 10 feet tall and pulsating.
Typically, a session lasts 35-50 minutes. I may end up going over an area of the foot several times and usually we fill up a whole hour, she says. Ive had several people whove been holding in their emotions for a long time who want to talk about it after they feel a release.
For many, its as if a weight has been lifted.
So many people say they just feel better after they get the technique -- they get more than they expected. Im so glad that I can offer that feeling from a holistic approach, rather than by using a drug.
A STEP BACKWARD
Born and raised in Mason, Michigan as the youngest of five girls, Franklin attended Grand Valley State University, where she studied health education. I lived in Hawaii for three years after I graduated and learned a lot about holistic health and how to cook, she says.
The cooking connection prompted her to launch her own business when she returned to Michigan, providing in-your-home dinners of healthful entrees. As for foot zoning, she got interested after hearing that the therapy had proven beneficial to the emotional health of a friend who lost a daughter. Her friend, Laura Duvall, taught her the technique and Franklin launched a Foot Zone therapy business two and a half years ago.
Foot Zone Balance is based on the reserach of William H. Fitzgerald, M.D., who published a book in 1917 called Relieving Pain at Home, which described the beneficial aspects of applying pressure to zones of the body which correspond to various injuries. He called his work Zone Analgesia (or pain relief), and charted various zones of the body. In the Far East, a corollary is that of acupressure or acupuncture.
Physical therapist Eunice Ingham became fascinated with Dr. Fitzgeralds zone theories and began developing her own foot reflex theory in the 1930s. She had the opportunity to treat hundreds of patients where each reflex point of contact had been carefully and thoughtfully checked and rechecked, states a primer on the subject. Finally she was able to determine, with full confidence, that the reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body.
Ingham went on to become the founder of modern reflexology with her book, Stories the Feet Can Tell. Her work was advanced by Charles Ersdal, M.D., a Norweigian physician who studied thousands of patients over 26 years to develop Zone Balance therapy which uses the foots signal system to benefit the body.
Much of our disease is really accumulated emotion that hasnt had an opportunity for release, Franklin says. What you find with the Foot Zone is that it stimulates that area of the body where your stress is concentrated. Your big toe stimulates your neck, for instance.
She feels that the technique is helpful in relieving pain and stress, restoring circulation to areas of the body, and removing toxins through stimulation. Although a person with a disease like diabetes isnt likely to be cured by the therapy, they may feel better due to improved circulation.
The feet are where we move forward in this world, and if your feet are really tender, then what is the body trying to tell us? Its so simple but so ancient -- all were doing is releasing the blocked energy in the body.
Franklins Foot Zone Balance sessions run $60 per hour, available at her business in Traverse City (231-947-3712) or at the Evergreen Center in Suttons Bay