What exactly is reflexology?
It works with compression massage, usually applied with the thumb and fingers, delivering a moderate pressure to the feet and sometimes the hands if the foot is damaged or severely infected. Treatments usually last about one hour and are taken at weekly intervals to allow the body to balance between treatments. We start by making the patient comfortable in a reclining chair with the lower legs and feet supported. We then take a full medical history, lifestyle, and emotional condition of the person. This helps the therapist to focus on what is an appropriate treatment for the individual, and if there are conditions to proceed with care or if it is a suitable treatment. The feet are divided into 10 longitudinal and transverse zones. Both feet are worked on, usually starting with the right foot, although other methods of reflexology have different patterns of working. The treatment usually starts at the head (the toes) and works down through the feet, chest, abdomen, and groin areas. This will relax the person and bring about a feeling of wellbeing.
Where does it come from?
Reflexology is a modern western therapy. Similar forms of foot massage therapy have been practiced since ancient times. Chinese in origin, however many ancient cultures recognised that the feet were a way of treatment. In the West, Dr Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat specialist at Boston General Hospital, developed the method of Zone Therapy, published in 1917 with Dr Edwin Bowers. In the 1930s American, Eunice Ingham, devised ‘The Ingham Method of Compression Massage’ introduced to the UK by Doreen Boyly in 1960. Ingham developed and renamed Zone Therapy Reflexology and mapped out charts of the feet and reflexology zones. Her work has been developed and many charts now exist, but all reflect the body in the feet and hands.
What is it supposed to do?
It releases tension, improves circulation and improves the energy flow by breaking down what has been described as calcium deposits at the end of the nerve endings in feet and hands. Most patients feel very relaxed after the treatment. Some feel energized.
Is there anything you do to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment?
We make sure the person is comfortable in a warm and calm environment. Allow them to talk if they wish; some people will unburden their worries and some will be emotional. Others will fall asleep and wake refreshed. The treatment is adjusted to the client’s needs.
Is there anything you recommend clients to do pre or post-treatment to get the most out of it?
I always talk through what has shown up on the feet – sometimes suggesting dietary changes or exercise regimes. I always advise people to drink more water, particularly after treatments to enhance its effects on the body in throwing off toxins. If the person is very relaxed I suggest they don’t fight the urge to rest after treatment. I always advise on a few simple points on the hands that they can use at home.
Is there anyone you particularly recommend the treatment for?
Most people with most conditions will benefit from treatment, there are very few contra indications.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t have this treatment and why?
Anyone with infectious diseases, high fevers or high temperatures as it causes too much stress to the liver. Someone with Deep Vein Thrombosis as it could cause clot to move. Anyone who has just had replacement surgery. Someone with severe Osteoporosis, particularly if the hands and feet are affected as it could cause more damage to the bones. Woman with an unstable or risky pregnancy should avoid reflexology, but it is ok from 20 weeks onwards (fortnightly) and weekly from 30 weeks as it helps to soften the cervix for childbirth.
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