Written by Hannah Steele, Holistic Therapist
As a Reflexologist I often get asked “So what is Reflexology?” So I guess I’ll start there, with what I tell most people.
Reflexology works on the basis that your body and everything inside it is mapped into the feet for example; the head is the big toe, the ball of the foot being the chest, and with that we can bring the entire body back into balance working on just the feet.
I use the phrase “bring the body back into balance” because when the body is out of balance and energy is stagnant, causing inflammation that is when illness occurs. Reflexologists look for any differences in the feel of the feet, for instance the terms a lot of Reflexologists use are “grainy” “popping” and “crunchy” … among others, also the lines of communication are kept open with the client as they might feel a sensitivity in certain places. I would link these differences or sensitivities back to the corresponding body part and work on that area to unblock the energy there.
There are over 7000 nerve endings in each foot, these nerve endings are connected to every single part of the body, when these nerves are stimulated its stimulates the corresponding area in the body.
Knowing this, the benefits are endless. If the body is in harmony, you’re a force to be reckoned with. Here are a few of the reported benefits of Reflexology; circulation boost, reduced stress levels, detoxification, improved sleep, hormone balancing and pain relief.
You may have also heard of Hand Reflexology, it works in the same way and is a fantastic way of self treating anywhere, once you learn a few reflex points you literally have your own wellness at your fingertips, which is a pretty wonderful feeling.
It’s easy to mention some vague benefits without any back up so here’s how it all works.
For instance, if we look at how the body detoxifies, it’s through the lymphatic system, which has no pump of its own, it relies on movement of the body and massage. Our blood vessels open when we relax and focus on our breathing which in turn via circulation supplies our cells with the oxygen and nutrients it needs. Those are two reasons how Reflexology works but those two benefits in themselves have a positive knock-on effect to the rest of the body. If your body is detoxing more effectively then you’re healthier and fitter. If you’re more relaxed, your circulation and sleep improves and your stress levels lower.
Some may think that all sounds a bit ‘airy-fairy’ and I do get that a lot – to be honest, when I first started studying Reflexology I wasn’t sure how I’d explain it to people and be expected to be taken seriously, then I worked in a Reflexology Centre full time for a few years and that’s when I really saw how beneficial it is as a therapy and how valued it was by the clients that booked in on a regular basis.
Many of those clients used it solely as a way to keep their heath in check, how incredible is that? Here are a few anecdotes from clients I have had the pleasure of treating.
A lady with diabetes that, prior to her treatment her blood sugar level was 17/18 and post Reflexology it had gone right down to 13, and most importantly she felt so much better.
I met a particular client that when we first met, she was ridged laid on the couch, not relaxed at all! She had come with the hope to calm her anxiety. She would just stare at the ceiling the entire way through. After months (probably 8) of Reflexology, she was a different person. She was bubbly, full of stories, she was open and smiley. She was happy.
Another lady that would come regularly would always say that if, for some reason she missed a treatment she could really see the difference, she would be moody, tired and stressed. Her reason for coming was to balance hormones and treat PMS.
One of my favourites- a client that started coming for Reflexology to try and get pregnant, after 9 months of trying with no luck. She was pregnant after just 8 treatments.
It’s these experiences that have changed my view of Reflexology, I now see it in all it’s glory. It’s a hero of therapies, it changes lives. If you wanted to remedy anything in your life from something physical like an injury or headaches, right down to building confidence and shaking off your anxiety. Even starting a family. These things are life-changers.
In recent months it’s been in the press about the the downsides to antibiotics and how Doctors are giving them in the more serious, persistent cases. So imagine being able to, as I said before, keep your health in check with Reflexology.
So, what would you expect from a typical treatment?
Personally, I set my treatment room up with candles, incense, low lighting, some water or tea and some soft music. Upon your first treatment you’ll do a consultation which will last about 15 minutes, we’ll talk through your medical history, your present medical state and reason for coming. Once we’re ready and you’re comfortable I’d get you to settle onto the massage table. With a wealth of blankets and cushions I make sure you’re supported and relaxed.
I start my treatments with a warm towel on the feet, and begin by applying cream to the first foot while leaving the second all wrapped up and cosy. Looking for those grainy areas I mentioned before. I massage the foot working in a specific sequence, head first I.e toes first, and work my way down the foot, focussing on those pesky areas.
Half way through, I move to the second foot. We end the treatment with some breathing and calm.
Then we have good chance for us to talk through the treatment and any sensitive areas that came up, and I’ll say which area it corresponds to. It’s not a Reflexologists job to diagnose, although we may speculate with the help of the client.
For example, the kidneys are repeat offenders and I’d say they are sensitive in about 95% of treatments, and I would then ask if the client stays hydrated throughout the day? And in about 94% of treatments that’s met with a resounding “No”.
In this final chat, it can be overwhelming to list all the areas that came up, but it’s wise to remember that it’s highly unlikely to be anything sinister and something as simple as, tiredness, dehydrated, hormonal etc.
I could talk all day long about the negative impact of stress, and how it is the root cause of all ailments but it is already well documented, stress causes inflammation which causes illness. We live a fast-paced lifestyle so with that comes the responsibility to slow down for the benefit of our health. Reflexology already plays crucial part in many peoples lives, and I have no doubt those people are somewhere skipping through a meadow leading a blissful life.
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