The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone's connected to the leg bone: Generations of kids grew up singing along with a version of this folk song. But kids never learn that the foot bones are connected to the stomach because, well, they're not. Not directly, anyway – although practitioners of reflexology say otherwise. Applying pressure to specific parts of the feet and hands may relieve stomach upset.
Reflexology is a healing practice based on the belief that very specific parts of the feet, hands and ears correspond to other body parts. Reflexologists believe that pressing on those points can relieve pain and discomfort in the corresponding body parts. Putting pressure on the reflexology zones that correspond to the stomach may or may not relieve ailments, but it certainly doesn't hurt to try.
Start With the Feet
The feet are the major focus of reflexology, and practitioners say that each foot has dozens of pressure points connecting to different body parts. The stomach zone is in the middle of the foot, just at the front of the arch. Press four fingers together and place them against the sole of the foot, just under the big toe. Just below the bottom finger is the stomach zone. It's in the same place on both feet, but spend more time on the left foot. The stomach reflex area on this foot is larger than it is on the right foot, according to the authors of "Complete Reflexology for Life."
Head to the Hands
Both hands have reflexology stomach zones, which are much easier to reach and massage than the soles of the feet. The stomach reflex zone is located between the forefinger and thumb. Use the forefinger and thumb of the left hand to find the knuckle joint of the right forefinger, then slide them down to find the firm, fleshy part of the palm just below the knuckle. From that area down to the bottom of the thumb is the stomach zone.
Soothing the Stomach Through Reflexology
Expert reflexologists manipulate specific stomach-zone spots in different ways to treat different issues, but DIY reflexology doesn't have to be that precise. Find those pressure points whenever a bout of nausea or indigestion begins. Use the thumb to press into the target area and slowly slide it up or across the stomach zone. Repeat this process for a few minutes, alternating feet and hands, until your stomach feels better or your fingers are cramped.
Only apply pressure if it feels comfortable to do so. Trying reflexology at home is generally harmless as long as it's not painful and you're not pregnant. It's considered unsafe to do reflexology during the beginning of pregnancy, because the practice may bring on contractions. Get your doctor's approval before doing any reflexology treatments during pregnancy, and even then, only get treatments from a professional who has experience treating pregnant women and who knows which points to avoid.
Kathryn Walsh has been writing about health, wellness and beauty for nearly 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including USAToday.com, Mamapedia and Livestrong.com.