One of the presents Qian gave me for my birthday was these stone reflexology sandals. Pretty crazy, eh?! To answer your question, yes, they take some getting used to. But honestly, after wearing them for a few days, I can wear these sandals around the apartment for extended periods of time. My feet adjust to them after a few minutes and I hardly even notice them after a while.
These shoes are a manifestation of the ancient Chinese belief that the bottom of one's feet is the key to one's qi and health. These shoes seem to mimic walking paths like this one, which can be found in public parks all over China and Asia:
Photo from Ummabdragmaan's Flicker account
Here is the write up on Reflexology form Wikipedia:
Reflexology (zone therapy) is an alternative medicine method involving the practice of massaging, squeezing, or pushing on parts of the feet, or sometimes the hands and ears, with the goal of encouraging a beneficial effect on other parts of the body, or to improve general health.At the bottom of the reflexology Wikipedia page, it notes that reflexology was featured on Penn and Teller's TV program "Bullshit!" I can only imagine what those guys had to say about the practice. I've also done a Google search on reflexology and there seems to be a large segment of the world's population who think that reflexology is a complete sham.
There is no consensus among reflexologists on how reflexology is supposed to work; a unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one's qi.
Many civilizations have practiced reflexology. Evidence of this has been documented on four continents: Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. The most common theory is that the earliest form of reflexology originated in China, as much as 5000 years ago. The early Taoists are credited with originating many Chinese health practices. The Cherokee tribes of North America to this day practice a form of reflexology that they continue to pass from generation to generation. Reflexology traveled across India, Japan, Asia, and China. Traditional East Asian foot reflexology is called Zoku Shin Do. This is the foot portion of the Japanese massage technique. The roots of Zoku Shin Do go back to ancient China and are over 5000 years old. Many changes took place in zone therapy, or reflexology, as new knowledge was added. In China, reflexology reached a new level. The practice of acupressure using the fingers turned into the practice of acupuncture using needles. The study of the reflex points still existed, but the knowledge was linked or added to and taken in a new direction—the direction of meridians. The Chinese concept of meridian therapy is an important part of the foundation of reflexology.
Image from Lattiss.com
Personally, I'm happy to wear these sandals around my apartment for a few minutes a day. Do I think that my life is going to be changed significantly by wearing them? No. Do I have faith that these sandals might help my qi out in some way that could possibly have positive benefits on my life? I'm not counting on it.
But hey, Qian gave me the sandals, I find them reasonably comfortable, and I'm going to continue wearing them. If I find that my qi is all groovin' in the coming weeks or months, I'll be sure to share my experiences with all of you.