Happy Feet

Ancient health secrets can be found on a modern island

By: Mark Edward Harris

This is the first Image
Reflexology chart
I was lying on the table at the Giwado Foot Massage Clinic in Taipei wondering how so much power could be coming out of such a petite package. My masseuse, Lilly, was helping me discover parts of my body I didn’t know I had by pushing on various parts of my feet, using what is known as reflexology. Is this supposed to be relaxing? Well, yes and no. The primary purpose is therapeutic.

Throughout Taiwan, the fine art of massage is available in its various forms from shiatsu to Swedish to the foot massage I was enduring. Facilities range from The Palace Club, currently the highest health club in the world on floors 77-79 of Kaohsiung’s stunning 585-room Hotel Splendor, to hot spring resorts, such as Toong Mao Spa Resort, Reikei Hot Spring Resort and Being Spa in Guanziling, to traditional reflexology clinics throughout the island nation.

This is the second Image
By applying pressure to parts of the
feet, reflexologists can ease pain
Reflexology in particular has flourished in Taiwan. Thousands of tiny nerve endings in the feet and toes correspond to every organ and gland in our body. The basic concept is that by applying pressure to them, the stimulation will promote positive physiological changes. I’m handed a colored chart of the feet with about 80 major locations highlighted so I can follow the play-by-play on my foot scorecard. These points and corresponding areas include the toes connecting to areas in the brain and sinus area, the middle of the foot connecting to the gall bladder and adrenal glands, and the area near the heals connecting to the sacrum and sciatic areas. Reflexology can also be done through points on the hands and ears.

The basic concept is the more pain you feel in a particular area, the more issues you have in that part of your body. Boy, was I in trouble. Misery loves company, and fortunately the other people in the communal massage room seemed to share my level of pain, especially the other guys. A quick survey of the room also led me to the conclusion that women can definitely endure more pain than men. At times I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive the 50-minute session at the Giwado Feet Clinic.

In the end the session was both relaxing and therapeutic. A two-month-long pain in my neck literally had been reduced to a faint annoyance. By the end of my five-day trip and several massages and hot spring dips later, it was gone.


Being Spa, Guanziling

The Chinese Foot Reflexology Association

The Foot Massage Center, Taipei

Giwado Foot Massage Clinic
59, Sec. 1, Shin-Shen N. Road, Taipei

Hotel Splendor, Kaohsiung

Reikei Hot Spring Resorts, Guanziling