What is Reflexology?Reflexology is a Holistic Treatment for Mind and Body which involves working on your feet and sometimes hands. It is a unique treatment using fingers and thumbs on the reflexes of the feet. Reflexology is not massage; it uses very specific thumb and finger pressure technique to work on the reflexes. There are over 200,000 nerve endings in the feet and they are all connected to the brain via your body. Sensitive, trained hands can detect tiny deposits and imbalances in the feet and by working on these points the Reflexologist can release blockages and restore the free flow of energy to the whole body. This gentle therapy encourages the body to heal itself at its own pace. In addition Reflexology promotes the "relaxation response" which describes a specific set of physiological changes - the opposite of the fight-or-flight response - which includes lowered blood pressure, breathing and heart rates and reduced muscle tension.
The ancient art of Reflexology was first practised by the early Indian, Chinese and Egyptian peoples.
In 1913 Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat surgeon, introduced this therapy to the West. Dr. Fitzgerald found that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an anaesthetising effect on a related area. He theoretically divided the whole body into ten equal and vertical zones, ending in the fingers and toes and concluded that pressure on one part of a zone could affect everything else within that zone. In the1930’s, Eunice Ingham, a therapist, further refined the zone theory into what is now known as foot Reflexology. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot mirrors congestion or tension in a corresponding part of the body. Thus, when you treat the big toes there is a related effect in the head and treating the whole foot may have a relaxing and healing effect on the whole body.
Who Can Benefit From Reflexology?The body has the ability to heal itself. Following illness, stress, injury or disease, it is in a state of "imbalance", and vital energy pathways are blocked, preventing the body from functioning effectively. Reflexology may be used to restore and maintain the body’s natural equilibrium and encourage healing. As Reflexology is a holistic therapy, practitioners do not treat problems - they treat people. Reflexologists do not claim to cure disease and Reflexology is not a substitute for orthodox medical treatment. However Reflexology may be very beneficial for a wide range of chronic and acute conditions and especially for all stress related problems. Reflexology is suitable for all ages.
Reflexology can be particularly helpful in the following areas.
• Stress related conditions.
• Musculo-skeletal pain (backache, stiff neck, frozen shoulder).
• Breathing disorders & other respiratory conditions.
• Headaches and migraine.
• Sinus problems.
• Stress related digestive & bowel disorders.
• Hormonal imbalances & irregularities.
• Sleep disorders.
• Mental health issues.
• Post-operative recovery...and many more.
Reflexology "as effective as painkillers"
Reflexology may be as effective as painkillers, according to a new scientific survey. The Telegraph 9th April 2013
Reflexology may be as effective as painkillers, according to a new scientific survey. The Telegraph 9th April 2013
What Happens When You Go For A Treatment?On your first visit there is an initial consultation with the practitioner. Once the practitioner has recorded your details and health issues the treatment can start. The Reflexologist then begins to work on your feet or hands if necessary. There may be some discomfort in some places, but it is fleeting, and is an indication of congestion or imbalance in a corresponding part of the body. For the most part, the sensation is pleasant and soothing. Reflexology may relax you while stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms. The treatment session usually lasts between 30 minutes to one hour. A course of treatments varies in length depending on your body’s needs and will be discussed with you at the first session.
What Evidence Is There To Validate Reflexology?The system of applying pressure to points on the feet to effect health is an ancient form of therapy, which originally appears to have developed in China alongside acupuncture. Various forms of pressure point therapies have been used around the world ever since. Nowadays a growing number of Hospital Departments and Medical Practitioners are involved in undertaking research to validate Reflexology. A range of Medical benefits have so far been identified by clinical studies, medical tests or monitoring, including:
• Effects on blood pressure.
• Effects on the immune system.
• Respiratory function amongst asthmatics.
• Blood sugar levels amongst diabetics.
• Labour times in pregnancy and pre-menstrual syndrome.
• Post-operative recovery.
• The relief of musculo-skeletal problems including non-specific back pain.
• Improvements in bowel function.
• Relief of headaches, migraines and sinus problems.
• Relief from jet lag.
• A reduction in stress and anxiety.
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Frequently asked Questions
Q. Do you have to have a specific condition to have reflexology?
A. No. An increasing number of people are using this safe, natural therapy as a way of relieving tension. It brings the body into balance and so it can be effectively used as a preventative measure to ensure good health.
Q. Can reflexology offer a cure for any particular diseases or conditions?
A. The short answer is no but where a disease or condition has been clinically diagnosed then reflexology, as a complementary therapy, may be used to support and enhance conventional medical treatment, to provide symptomatic relief, to improve general well-being, to aid relaxation and to reduce anxiety. Clients have reported relief from joint and back pain, low mood, headaches, sinus problems, hormonal imbalances, stress, digestive disorders, poor sleep patterns and a number of other long-term debilitating illnesses and conditions.
Q. Will it or hurt?
A. Reflexology does not hurt. Overall, a reflexology session should be an enjoyable and relaxing experience and if any part of the treatment is unpleasant or uncomfortable for you, it is important that you let the reflexologist know straight away. However, it is very common for some reflex areas to be tender or sensitive and it is helpful for the reflexologist to know this; once those areas have been treated.
Q. What it tickle if I have very sensitive feet?
A. No the feet are held firmly and the specific techniques allow even people with ticklish feet to enjoy a reflexology treatment and do not find any problems with having their feet touched in this way.
Q. Will I need to undress?
A. If the feet are being treated, you will only need to remove your shoes and socks, tights or stockings. Trousers will need to be rolled up to the knee. If the hands are being treated there is no need to remove any clothing at all but sleeves should be rolled up to the elbow.
Q. How long does a session last?
A. A single session lasts about an hour. The first treatment will be longer, lasting about an hour and a half, since it will start with a consultation, covering the client's lifestyle, general health and medical history. The consultation will provide a confidential record of personal and medical details. At energy benefits all such details are kept on paper, in an individual file which is stored in a locked filing cabinet. No personal or medical details are stored electronically. Personal and medical information is never shared except at the client's request and/or with their permission - unless of course there is a clear indication of a significant risk to the client or another person.)
Q. Are there any side effects following a reflexology treatment?
A. Some people do experience a reaction to the treatment; this may take the form of "odd" sensations (sometimes described as tingling or as if electricity is running through the body) or some other form of physical or emotional disturbance during the treatment; or it may manifest itself as unusual tiredness. Most people feel an improved sense of wellbeing and experience a deep sense of relaxation. Occasionally people report a mild headache feeling tired or needing to go to the toilet more often following their treatment. Theas are normal reactions and should pass within 24- 48 hrs, reflexologists believe this is part of the healing process and may be followed by an improvement in the presenting condition. Other people report feeling extremely relaxed or full of energy.
Q. Is there anything that I should do or avoid doing before or after a treatment?
A. Just eat light meals before and after a treatment and afterwards be aware that it is possible to feel tired, unable to concentrate or a little out of sorts for a short time so try to avoid the need for a long journey, important meeting or strenuous exercise session straight away. If possible, try to make time for a rest or an early night, avoid alcohol, nicotine and any unnecessary medication and drink plenty of plain water.
Q. Are there any contraindications which may prevent a treatment?
A. Very few. Reflexology is a safe therapy for most people, no matter what their age. The presence of cellulitis may preclude treatment (due to the tenderness and fragility of the skin) as may a tendency to blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (because the massage may stimulate the circulation and therefore possibly dislodge a clot which could in turn lead to a more serious problem). Reflexologists will not treat anyone with a notifiable, contagious or infectious disease (including athlete's foot) because of the risk of infection and cross-infection. Caution will always be exercised in the presence of any serious or unstable condition and the client may be asked to seek the advice and approval of their own doctor before commencing treatment. A hand treatment may be possible if it is not possible to treat the feet.
Q. What if I'm pregnant?
A. Pregnancy is not a contraindication, in fact reflexology has become one of the most popular complementary therapies used by pregnant women. It may be very helpful for symptomatic relief, for example for back ache in the later stages. Some reflexologists specialise in treating women who are pregnant or who have had problems conceiving.
Q. What if I am having other forms of treatment?
A. If you are having other complementary treatments, it may be better to complete those sessions before starting reflexology - otherwise it may be difficult to decide which therapy is providing which benefits. If you are receiving conventional medical treatment, it is sensible to discuss the idea of using a complementary therapy at the same time, with your doctor.
Q. How many treatments will I need and will I notice an improvement in my health after one session?
A. The course of treatments varies in length and frequency as it depends on each client's needs. This will be agreed after the first treatment. Recently acquired health problems may be improved quite quickly but long-standing problems may take longer to address and so several sessions may be more helpful; just as with conventional medicine, a course of treatment is often needed. Typically 6 weekly treatments allow for effective assessment of the treatment for a client. Acute problems may benefit from frequent, short sessions Once the body is in tune reflexology may be used to maintain energy and wellbeing and may also be used as a preventative to illness. Many clients have attended Energy Benefits for over twelve years and really feel the benefits of Reflexology have a “Monthly Fix”.
Q. What is the relaxation response?
A. The term, ‘Relaxation Response’ was coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, professor, author, cardiologist, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute. The response is defined as your personal ability to encourage your body to release chemicals and brain signals that make your muscles and organs slow down and increase blood flow to the brain.
The Relaxation Response is essentially the opposite reaction to the “fight or flight” response. According to Dr. Benson, using the Relaxation Response is beneficial as it counteracts the physiological effects of stress and the fight or flight response.
It is common for individuals experience the fight or flight response to describe uncomfortable physiological changes like muscle tension, headache, upset stomach, racing heartbeat, and shallow breathing. The fight or flight response can become harmful when elicited frequently.
Relaxation Response is a helpful way to turn off fight or flight response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels as a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of our nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system.
Research has shown that regular use of the Relaxation Response can help any health problem that is caused or exacerbated by chronic stress such as fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal ailments, insomnia, hypertension,anxiety disorders, and others.
The possible promotion of the relaxation response is one of the most powerful potential benefits of reflexology!
Q. Can children have reflexology?
A. Yes! They usually love it and respond well.
Q. Are you qualified as a reflexologist?
A. Yes, I trained at the Philip Salmon School of Reflexology in 1999 and am a Full Member of the Association of Reflexologists (MAR)and registered with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council(CNHC). To visit the AoR website go to www.aor.org.uk or go to the CNHC website at www.cnhc.org.uk . I have also furthered my understanding of Reflexology and explored the exciting new methods that enhance the Classical Reflexology Treatment such as Advanced Spinal Reflexology and ART Reflexology with Tony Porter. Often my treatments will incorporate a varied number of specific techniques dependant on the presenting conditions.