Reflexology is a non intrusive complementary therapy based on the theory that different points on the feet correspond with different areas and zones of the body.
Reflexologists work holistically with their clients with the aim of stimulating the bodies own healing response, helping to restore balance, relieve stress and tension and relax the whole body.
Reflexology is a very gentle healing modality and is suitable to from any age, from babies to those receiving end of life care - although as with many complementary therapies there may be some conditions that prevent treatment, you will be given a thorough consultation. (see A.O.R for more information)
Reflexology can work very well as a spilt treatment with Reiki.
In a session, a reflexologist will apply pressure to certain reflexes on the feet. The aim is to stimulate energy flow and send signals around the body - targeting areas of pain and tension. Uses of reflexology typically include pain relief for a range of illnesses and health problems. It is also used to restore balance to the body by removing any 'blockages' in energy flow that may be contributing to ill health.
How does reflexology work?
As mentioned previously, reflexology therapy is based on the theory that applying pressure to certain points on the feet helps the body to restore balance naturally. Reflexologists do not claim to cure, prescribe or diagnose. They aim to offer an alternate means of healing which is tailored to each individual and their specific needs.
Reflexologists take into account both physical and emotional factors that may be affecting a person's health and well-being. Using this knowledge they pinpoint areas on the feet, hands or ears where they can apply pressure and use specific hand movements and thumb techniques to stimulate healing energy. This energy is transmitted via the body's energetic pathways to the corresponding areas of the body.
Uses of reflexology
Reflexology is a popular alternative therapy that is considered to have a range of uses. Some of the most common uses of reflexology include:
- •Stress reduction - Studies have shown that reflexology can help alleviate the harmful effects of stress on the body.
- •Relaxation - The therapy encourages the mind and body to enter a place of deep relaxation.
- •Soothing tired feet - The special hand movements and techniques can help to ease pain and tension in the feet.
- •Reducing pain - Research shows the therapy is an effective method of pain relief.
- •Improving circulation - Reflexology helps break down deposits in the blood stream which can affect the circulation of blood flow.
- •Enhancing overall well-being - Many people use the therapy on a regular basis to support a healthy mind and body.
Many people also find reflexology helpful in reducing stress-related ailments, including:
- •Tension headaches - The application of strokes over certain points on the foot by the big toe are thought to help ease tension headaches.
- •Arthritis - Reflexologists may work on specific points on the hands and feet to help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis.
- •Digestive disorders - Reflex points for the digestive system are located on the plantar surface of the feet. Reflexologists will focus on these areas to relive digestive discomfort and ease stress.
- •Insomnia - Reflexology can be soothing, while the thumb and finger movements over certain reflexes can help to target hormonal imbalances that can disrupt sleep.
- •Menstrual problems - Many women find the therapy useful for addressing common menstrual problems such as severe pain, irregular cycles and general discomfort.
- •Back pain - Pressure on certain reflex points is thought to alleviate nerve problems in the back which can cause pain.
- •Sports injuries - Reflexology boosts the body's healing ability by stimulating blood and nerve flow to an injured muscle or tissue.
Modern life is increasingly demanding and stressful. Reflexology can be effective in helping to mitigate daily stresses and maintain good health and well-being. Please remember, however, that reflexology is a complementary therapy and therefore should be used in tandem with medical care. Please consult your doctor first if you are experiencing any of the above ailments.
Uses of reflexology also extend to post-operative or palliative care. It is a popular therapy among cancer patients who find it helpful for relaxation. For many patients undergoing intensive medical treatment, reflexology can help to boost emotional well-being.
What to expect from a session
Reflexology therapy sessions are fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. A typical treatment lasts around 45 minutes to an hour and begins with a consultation about your health and lifestyle. Your reflexologist will discuss your medical history to establish any underlying health problems. They will also ask what you wish to gain from reflexology therapy.
You will then be required to remove your shoes and socks before being seated comfortably in a reclining chair or on a massage table. Your reflexologist will carry out an initial examination of the feet before commencing treatment. They will begin by warming up the feet by applying pressure from the toes to the heel according to your comfort. Firm thumb and hand movements will then be used to identify areas of tenderness or tension.
Reflexology is not painful, however certain areas of the feet may feel more tender than others. This will depend on what area of the body they correspond with. Sensitivity will vary from person to person, and a reflexologist will adjust the amount of pressure applied accordingly. After a session your feet will feel warm and you should experience a general feeling of calm and relaxation. You may even feel sleepy.
The number of reflexology sessions you'll need will depend on the condition being treated. Your reflexologist will be able to discuss this with you and devise a treatment programme.
You may experience the relaxing effects of reflexology after just one session. It may take longer to notice benefits in other parts of the body. Many people find their sleeping and moods improve over the course of a few sessions, but this will differ between individuals.
Misconceptions about reflexology
There are a few misconceptions about reflexology that can paint the treatment in confusing light. Below we provide the truths to some common misconceptions:
It is no different to a foot massage
Although reflexology therapy involves massage techniques, it is not specifically a massage therapy. Foot massage is similar to Swedish massage. This involves the use of massage oil or lotion, which a massage therapist will apply to the foot using a combination of gliding strokes. The aim is to work on soft tissue to promote healing in the area of concern. Massage is a direct modality.
Reflexology on the other hand is a systematic foot therapy, which involves the stimulation of specific reflex points on the feet. These correspond to other parts of the body. A reflexologist will use their knowledge of the reflexology foot chart to guide their hand movements. Reflexology is an indirect modality.
It is ticklish
Many people think reflexology therapy is ticklish, especially as feet can be quite sensitive. This is not the case. A reflexologist will hold the feet in a firm, confident manner, knowing the right amount of pressure to apply. Reflexology involves deep, concise hand movements, thumb hooking and pin-pointing techniques. It is not designed to feel ticklish.
It isn't suitable for everyone
As it is a non-invasive complementary therapy, reflexology is suitable for anyone, of any age. It is however recommended that women avoid the treatment within the first three months of pregnancy. There is specific Maternity Reflexology therapy available for those who wish to continue the therapy while pregnant.
It is diagnostic
Reflexology is not medical, therefore a reflexologist cannot diagnose conditions or problems. The therapy works with the holistic principle that the body functions in a natural way. Imbalances within the body are thought to lead to ailments and physical problems. A reflexologist will look to restore the body's natural rhythm and thus restore its ability to heal.