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The Art of Foot Reading [What Your Clients’ Feet Reveal About Them]

You might think a bunion or ingrown toenail is indicative of nothing more profound than too-tight shoes. But according to professional foot reader Jane Sheehan, our feet and toenails can lead insight into our personalities and emotional makeup.

Jane Sheenan speaks the language of the feet. A reflexologist since 1999, she believes our feet reflect our emotional characteristics and the information revealed can be used as a personal development tool to help people identify issues in their life and aid them in moving forward. Her philosophies are based in part, she says, on the teachings of Louise Hay (You Can Heal Your Life), ImreSomogyi (Reading Toes: Your Feet as Reflections of your Personality), and Chris Stormer (Language of the Feet: What Feet Can Tell You). Sheehan, who lectures on the topic throughout the UK, believes foot reading can be used by reflexologists and pedicurists to understand their clients from a more holistic perspective.

Here are the top 10 question she receives regarding the secrets held by the feet:

1 What does it mean if i have a bunion?

Bunions are telling you that you are bending over backwards doing too much for others and not enough for yourself. The degree to which the big toe is deformed towards the little toe shows the degree that you are out of balance in this area of your life. Ask yourself, “What would I be doing with my time if I had more time for me?” Many people with bunions can’t answer this. Until they work out what they really want to spend their time on, they will continue doing too much for others.

2 What does it mean if i have wide feet?

Very wide feet are what I call the “carthorse” foot. You are extremely hard-working. You are constantly doing things and find it very difficult to sit down and do nothing. If I offer you a cup of tea, you will be getting the cups out of the cupboard to help me rather than sitting back and letting me wait on you.

3 What does it mean if i have narrow feet?

Very narrow feet are what I call the “princess” foot. You are much happier sitting back and letting others run around after you. “Peel me a grape!” You are very good at delegating to others without appearing to do so. You appreciate the good things in life.

4 What does it mean if i have a high arch?

High arches are commonly found on people with strong inner resources. You enjoy spending time on your own. That’s not to say that you aren’t sociable, but if you do go to a party, you need the next day as quiet time to re-energize. You are very resourceful but find it hard to accept help from others because you feel you can do it all yourself.

5 What does it mean if I have flat feet?

Your flat feet are showing that you love the company of others. You are very sociable and you just don’t like being left on your own. You need lots of support in your life. You’re happy to accept help from others—lots of it!

6 What does it mean if my feet have grown a shoe size?

Even though your feet have stopped growing, your feet can grow a shoe size because of a relaxation of tension in the tendons and ligaments of the feet. When your feet go up a shoe size, it is because something has changed in your life and you now want recognition for your merits. You’re much happier to thrust yourself into the limelight. I know one person whose feet grew like this when she gave up her administrative job to become a teacher.

7 what does it mean if my feet have shrunk a shoe size?

It is possible for your feet to shrink a shoe size because of tension in the tendons and ligaments of the feet. When your feet shrink a shoe size, it is because something has changed in your life and you now feel that you want to take your time to assess situations and watch what is happening before you push yourself forward. You no longer need recognition and value your privacy more. You want to take more of a back-seat role.

8 What does it mean if i have athlete’s foot?

If you have athlete’s foot, you have developed a tendency to let things get under your skin. You experience extreme irritability. It annoys you that people constantly interfere and doubt and question your ideas. Why are you letting them bother you? Each toe has a meaning assigned to it [see sidebar], once you learn their meanings, you can further refine your interpretation based upon which toes has the athlete’s foot.

9 What does it mean if i have smelly feet?

This is what I call the “skunk” effect. You are trying to make more space for yourself by driving people away with the smell. You often find this on teenagers who are fed up with the rules. You also find it on caregivers for a dependent relative where their own personal freedom is restricted by their duty and responsibility.

10 What does it mean if i have a gap between my big toe and my second toe?

You have delayed reactions between your logical reaction and your emotional reaction. You need to learn to make more space to think before you make decisions. You often agree to do something and the next day think, “Gosh, why did I agree to do that?” Or someone says something to you and the next day you think, “I can’t believe I let them get away with that.” It’s just that your first reaction was your logical reaction but you hadn’t had time to assimilate how you feel about it. The bigger the gap between these toes, the more delayed the reaction.

What Your Client’s Toenails Can Tell You


Big toenail

Defends personal ideas, intuition, thoughts, and life’s expressions.

Second toenail

Protection of thoughts regarding feelings, emotions, and unconditional love.

Third toenail

Shields perceptions about activity and control.

Fourth toenail

Thoughts regarding communication, relationships, and pleasure.

Little toenail

Protection of thoughts regarding expansion, mobility, security.



Extra protection of thoughts to avoid outside interference.


Fed up at having to protect and justify ideas.


Extra protection is required because the person feels vulnerable and taken advantage of.


Feeling divided and undecided about which thoughts to protect—one’s own or others’. Wanting to stop pleasing everyone.


Unhappy about having to guard decisions and hurt about having to protect own thoughts and ideas.


A deep need to protect ideas. Going to extreme measures to protect ideas. Thoughts feel threatened and vulnerable.


Continually pulling strips off yourself. Self-critical.Revealing vulnerability.


No protection of thoughts.Feeling vulnerable and exposed.Lacking the substance or strength to back one’s own thoughts and ideas.

Depressed nail (pressed in the middle)

Lack of strength to defend personal decisions.

Involuted nail (hollow underneath)

Making space to explore own ideas. Avoiding the need to defend ideas at this stage while you have space to think them through.


Weaknesses indicate periods of disease, stress, and vulnerability. Emotional upset.


Fiercely protecting certain aspects of a particular perception. Metabolic disorder.

UK-based Jane Sheehan has set down her theories in her book, Let’s Read Our Feet!

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