If we had met eighteen months ago, I would have told you that I had forgotten how to pamper myself. Years of running ragged from work, overdoing, not exercising, and a convergence of health issues, I was a runaway train of hot mess. Emotionally and physically, I bankrupted my well being. Eventually my body announced, “Look, Train Wreck, this is no longer your depot. You’ve jumped the track!” I had to get the engines back online.

When Covid hit, like everyone else, I started taking stock. I “lacked-joy” my house (thanks Marie!), I started working out five days a week, improved my diet, and slept like a champ every night. But still, my body ached and creaked like a rusted-out Rambler (look it up). Realizing that my newfound (read: rediscovered) zest for physical activity and sports was causing a new set of health concerns, I decided it was time to get back into massage.

I happened to mention to my dear friend Jodee that I was in need of a good foot massage. Without reservation, my friend said that she knew just the place. Jodee booked our appointments at Royal Foot, on Royal Lane in Dallas, and made a reservation for dinner to follow.

As we drove to our destination, I commented that I was looking forward to catching up at the spa. “No-no, Royal Foot is a quiet zone. We relax.” Jodee handed me an extra set of headphones so I could occupy myself in the spa. When we arrived, our escort showed us to our massage stations. The gentle sound of classical music played in the background; I wouldn’t be in need of headphones after all. We sat down on our lounge chairs and that’s when the fun began.

Let me give you a visual. I am 4’11 with hair and heels. As I leaned back onto the lounger, my feet were about six inches above the wash bowl. I inched down so that my feet touched water. Jodee giggled at my display. My masseuse repeatedly draped a warm towel over my eyes and finally pinched my nose in hopes that the cloth might stick to my face.  As I grinned and chuckled, he just smiled and shook his head and went to work.

Foot massage and more specifically, reflexology, is a great addition to a healthcare routine. Focused on pressure points that connect to the rest of the body, foot massage can be a healing modality for a number of issues. Digestion, sleeplessness, and fatigue have been linked to improvements through foot massage. Think about it: for those of us who are lucky enough to have two and able to stand upright on both, we depend on our feet to carry us to our destination, lift us up off the ground as we leap for joy, and propel us toward victory or away from danger in a need to flee. Our feet keep us grounded and absorb a lot of punishment.

Now, the kicker is that I am terribly ticklish and hate having my feet touched. But years ago, I twisted my ankle during a soccer game. My neighbor, a chiropractor, saw me get out of my car and hobble to my front door. He aided me up the stairs, left to get his medical bag, and came back with a wrap and ice pack. He sat down on the couch and motioned for me to put my foot on his lap. I stared a hole through his head. “Don’t touch my feet.” He responded by giving me the People’s Eyebrow and repeated himself. I explained that my dad used to tickle my feet until near blackout and therefore no one comes near the peds. “How do you get pedicures then?” “It’s painful and takes far longer than it should.” The good doctor shook his head, picked up my leg, and said the ultimate (betrayal) words: “Trust me.”

He cupped my foot in his hands, using firm pressure across several points, including my toes. I was visibly horrified. As he checked for severe injury, he also massaged my foot to get the blood flowing, encouraging the muscles to relax and prevent stiffness. Then he showed me how I could reduce the anxiety and pain surrounding my feet by giving myself regular foot massage and spending more time going barefoot in the house. “And breathe. I’ve never met anyone who holds their breath as much as you do.” I gave the required “OK” and thanked him for his kindness. Needless to say, I reluctantly took his advice and eventually overcame my fear and grew to enjoy a good foot rub.

I found my mind drifting back to that event while I was at Royal Foot and found delayed gratitude for my neighbor’s advice. It led me to venture into full body massages and spa treatments, which I now thoroughly enjoy. I now find that I embrace the act of the embrace and enjoy holding hands and hugging those I love. Previously I saw those behaviors as too vulnerable and on the far right of mushy (yick). How time has changed me. I am far mushier and touchy feely than ever. In the past, I couldn’t fathom being touched (especially on my feet), but now I truly appreciate when a full-on hug or hand-holding opportunity appears and look forward to massage healing modality sessions.

Suddenly I was snapped back into the present moment as my masseuse made his way to my hips and he shook them like a rag doll before lunging into calisthenic leg twists and stretches. “Oh! I wasn’t expecting that,” I whispered and giggled.

I must have looked like a ill-shaped mess because my feet were propped up on the ottoman, which was moved to the end of the lounge chair, and my neck was firmly squared with its sectional bend. “You’re so little,” Jodee laughed.

As we exited the spa, I felt the warm circulation of fire and soothing energy run through my legs. We approached the car, and I said to Jodee, “I don’t know how I feel about tipping a guy who owes me dinner after giving me a pelvic jolt that I didn’t see coming!” We both laughed.

Truly though, if you’re in the Dallas area and need to treat your feet, head over to Royal Foot and take a load off of your peds. These guys will make your feet feel like royalty. You will be amazed at the things you can heal with just the right touch.

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