CF Writes: “My favorite summer sandals for the past 7-10 years have been Okabashi. When I was recently on your blog topics, I was surprised to see reflexology. I remembered that the term was used in reference to the making of these sandals. I went to the updated Okabashi web site, which now plays down the role of reflexology . . . . I was about to purchase new sandals, but now I hesitate . . .”
CF sent me a statement from the website which confirms that the family-run business bases its products on “the ancient art of reflexology.”
For those of you who are not familiar with reflexology, it is a New Age practice based on the existence of an alleged universal life force energy that supposedly permeates the body and can be manipulated to effect health by pressing on certain zones or reflex points in the feet, hands and ears that correspond to bodily organs. Practitioners believe that by applying pressure on these points, they can clear “energy pathyways” and “balance” body systems. (For more, see Reflexology )
The Okabashi sandal was brought to America by an Iranian shoemaker named Bahman Irvani who fled his native country during the Islamic Revolution. The Irvani family settled in Buford, Georgia where their manufacturing plant is located. They have sold millions of these sandals which come equipped with a contoured reflexology insole that has 500 “massage beads” that supposedly stimulate pressure points on the soles of the feet for the purpose of invigorating the body.
If these soles feel great (as CF says they do), it’s not because of whatever those “massage beads” are doing to your universal life force energy. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a universal life force energy (see What You Should Know about Energy Medicine ) which begs the question of why anyone would even bother with shoes that are built upon a false notion. The manufacturer claims they prevent foot fatigue by applying the principles of reflexology, but any well-crafted shoe is expected to prevent foot and leg fatigue so I’m not sure what makes Okabashi any different from other responsibly-made shoes other than their trademark reflexology.
The bottom line is that one doesn’t need reflexology for comfortable shoes and sandals. Remember Dr. Scholl’s and those big clunky wooden-soled sandals from the 1970’s? Well, they’ve come a long way since then and now have fashionable shoes that are based on proven orthopedics. Come to think of it, I’ve had a pair of Dr. Scholl’s black flats for at least 15 years and they’re still my favorite shoes!