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Reflexology is the Answer at One Honolulu Spa

Within the serene Walls of most spas, a typical masseur will delve straight into kneading muscles in “trouble” areas in order to help release tensions and toxins trapped within their client’s tissue.

However, reflexologists attest that the way to ease many of these pains is from the ground up, literally. That is, through one’s feet.

The practice, for those unfamiliar, dates back to ancient medicine men, who mapped the expansively interconnected nature of the human body. Scrolls discovered in China and Japan bore charts of pressure points on the feet. Egypt’s Tomb of Ankhmahor, known as the “Physician’s Tomb,” housed one of the earliest known images associated with reflexology. Dating to 2330 B.C., they show individuals holding and massaging one another’s feet.

Although reflexology is widely practiced around the world, there are few practitioners in Hawai’i. Hence, Tomoko Otsuka (who opened her first reflexology salon, Foot Zone, in Shibuya, Japan, in 1996) decided to introduce the therapy to a wider audience by opening Oasis Spa near Ala Moana Center.

She trains all her therapists in techniques she learned in Taiwan from master reflexologist Lin Mei Getsu.

This is not a therapy for wimps: Practitioners use firm, deep pressure for results that extend throughout the body. According to general manager Yuki Willett, some clients tell them they feel the results right away, including relief from sinus problems, back and shoulder aches.

She said pain in other parts of the body also manifests in pain in the corresponding area of the foot. So someone with a headache may feel extra pain in the big toe, while someone with aching shoulders may feel pain just below the little toe.

Sessions start with a foot soak in warm water scented with aromatic oil. Individuals are offered herbal tea for relaxation, followed by reflexology using organic creams. A 60-minute massage covers 64 reflex zones.

Just as with a full-body massage, clients are advised to drink lots of water over the following 24 hours to help cleanse the body of uric and lactic acid released during the session.

Willett says that her services caught on quickly among those who travel frequently and are accustomed to seeing reflexology practitioners throughout Asia.

“They tell us they’d been looking for a place in Hawai’i to offer this, and that’s how they find us,” she says.

The spa is also popular with more modest spa enthusiast, as well as men, who (according to Willett) often don’t like the hassle of removing their clothes for a full-body massage, or having lotion and oils on their body.

“Here, they just take off their shoes and they can get a massage,” Willett adds.

For those who nevertheless prefer top-to-bottom treatment, they can finish their reflexology session with 10-, 20- or 30-minute shoulder, neck, hand or head massage that will unquestionably leave them feeling every bit addressed.