Reflexology

A safe and relaxing way of relieving stress and a wide range of acute and chronic illnesses,
as well as maintaining your health and enhancing your well-being.

REFLEXOLOGY – what is it and does it work..?

 

Reflexology is one of the most popular complementary therapies used in the UK, with its popularity increasing as people seek more holistic ways to maintain good health and wellbeing. Reflexology is based on the premise that there are ‘reflexes’ in the feet and hands which correspond to all of your body parts – like having a map of your body on your feet. A Reflexologist uses their hands to apply pressure and stimulate these ‘reflex points’. A Reflexology treatment is usually applied to the feet, but in cases where this is not possible then treatment of the hands may be an alternative or be used for self-care.

 

Ancient art and history suggest that variations of the modern practice of Reflexology existed in all of the ancient healing cultures. It is commonly thought that Reflexology originated in China around 5000 years ago. There are also wall paintings from the tomb of a renowned ancient Egyptian physician which show a treatment involving pressure to the foot and hand. Reflexology has also been known in India for hundreds of years. The modern Western use of Reflexology stems from the work of an American Doctor who found that pressure applied to an area on the foot anaesthetised a corresponding area on the body. His work was developed by several others in America who constructed detailed maps of the reflex areas and found that Reflexology was useful for many health problems. Reflexology was introduced into the UK in the 1960s.

 

We don’t know exactly how reflexology works, but there are several theories which have been investigated. One theory suggests that pressing a particular Reflexology point increases blood flow to the corresponding organ or body part – this has been supported by several studies, including one using Doppler ultrasound which showed significant effects on blood flow to the kidneys during Reflexology treatment. The ‘nerve impulse theory’ proposes that stimulation applied to specific reflex points on the feet enhances the nervous connection to the corresponding body parts. It is also thought that Reflexology can help balance the autonomic nervous system (ANS) - that part of our nervous system that we don’t have to think about – in charge of functions like breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. The ANS has two aspects – the ‘stressy’ side and the ‘rest and digest side’ – and bringing balance here can improve health and wellness.

 

There have been a number of research studies on Reflexology published in the last couple of years. Studies published in 2015 have found Reflexology to help reduce pain, improve sleep, fatigue and breathing:

In a study involving 75 people with Multiple Sclerosis, the effects of Reflexology treatment were compared with relaxation techniques and just regular medical care. Reflexology treatment for 40 minutes twice per week for 4 weeks led to a significantly greater reduction in pain intensity at the end of the study than the relaxation techniques or regular medical care. A study involving 69 elderly men found that treatment for 6 weeks with either Reflexology once a week or a nightly warm footbath significantly improved sleep quality and delay in falling asleep. This is interesting as you can have a footbath yourself easily and it would be very cost effective! In a study involving 80 women having their first baby, half the women were given a 40 minute Reflexology treatment which significantly decreased the pain intensity, duration of labour and anxiety. A study with 60 people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) found that those people treated with Reflexology had significantly less breathing difficulties and fatigue at the end of treatment compared to those not given reflexology.

 

The power of Reflexology to relieve stress and initiate the innate self-healing mechanisms of the body has deeply impressed me over the 19 years since I qualified as a practitioner. The effects of a Reflexology treatment range from energising and uplifting to calming and deeply relaxing. I am trained in Precision Reflexology which uses a technique called ‘linking’ to enhance the power and definition of a treatment. ‘Linking’ involves gently holding more than one specific reflex point at the same time; this increases the rebalancing effect on the body’s energy. Many patients comment on sensations of vibration, heat or unusual energy within specific parts of their body during the ‘linking’ parts of treatment.