Last year I visited an osteopath who has a very fine reputation, writes text books and thinks outside the box. As soon as he met me he was keen to show me his kitchen floor. His office is in the ground floor of his apartment, but still it was an interesting and unusual invitation. My feet were bare and I had to climb a few flights of stairs so his kitchen floor had to have been something he was sure would inspire me. I assumed it had nothing to do with a “House and Garden” look so I was intrigued.
Wow! His kitchen floor was the most remarkable walking surface and I knew I had to check it out immediately, so I glanced at him as I swung myself onto it, just to be polite and confirm that it was ok to do so. Now, I have no real sensation in my feet but as soon as I touched this surface with my barefeet it “felt” glorious. The osteopath had covered his kitchen floor with stones and rocks that offered all sorts of textures that massaged and stimulated every possible part of your feet. I must have stood, and rocked, and stepped on those stones for ten minutes or more, with a silly smile on my face, I’m sure.
With the help of my husband I immediately set about making my own “stone walk”. I wasn’t going to be able to cover the kitchen floor because it wouldn’t be at all safe for me to using knives, or carrying hot things while I walked on stones that really required my entire attention to do so. We collected bucket loads of stones of different sizes, shapes and textures and we glued them to a board that was placed in the hallway so that every time I walk to the bathroom or bedroom I can walk on these stones. So successful was this stone walk that we built another one beside the entrance to the kitchen. The first one had areas of stones that stretch my arches, stones that gently stimulate my feet and stones that are more textured. The second board has larger areas that I can move my feet around, as well as areas that I can sit on to massage my glutes, or lie on to roll my legs over.
I had decided that these stone walks needn’t only be functional, but could be aesthetically pleasing as well. So I laid the stones out in patterns that flow into each other, that represent rivers flowing between mountains, or might be symbols of the areas I had borrowed the stones from. I think the results are art as well as aids to mobility, and I like the parallels that exist between the way in which touching the stones stimulates the brain and makes connections, and looking at the stone images makes connections in my mind with places I’ve been and memories I have from other times. The stone walk near the kitchen reminds me very much of a beach I visited as a child.
This stone walk is effectively in our living area because our home is open plan, so it’s highly visible and intrusive – it’s not unusual for people to stub their toes on it as they walk past it. I always invite others to take their shoes off and try walking on the stones. I’m excited about it and I like to share the experience with others. Surprisingly, quite a few people find that their feet are too sensitive. They so rarely walk in bare feet that they can’t tolerate the sensation. I find this sad because some of the things I really miss about having no sensation is the feeling of sand between my toes, or the feeling of grass under bare feet, walking with no shoes on warm asphalt or on pine needles …
I would recommend a stone walk to anyone who has limited mobility or reduced sensation, or to anybody who hasn’t. It’s a bit like having a foot massage, and a bit like reflexology. It probably has all the benefits of both. And they don’t have to be ugly chunks of rock. A stone walk can be a beautiful work of art, and a wonderful expression of creativity. Even if it might seem a bit weird to have in your home!