RELAX, RESTORE, REBALANCE
What is Reflexology?
This natural physical therapy combines a series of pressures & massage techniques to the feet and sometimes to the hands to stimulate the nerve endings that travel to the spinal cord, then to other parts of the body. Stimulating these nerve endings is said to improve circulation, stimulate vital organs and encourage the body's natural healing process whilst at the same time promoting deep relaxation.
I practice traditional Foot Reflexology, and am trained in Maternity Reflexology, Reflexology Lymph Drainage Technique and advanced Reflexology techniques (using Linking and TCM acupressure points.
A Brief History of Reflexology
Pressure and massage have been used therapeutically since ancient times. It is thought the ancient Egyptians used reflexology as a way of increasing circulation and balance within the body.
Contemporary reflexologists use the "Ingham Method", a foot map treatment. Developed in the 1930s, it has remained an important part of studying reflexology today. The Ingham Method, founded by American Physiotherapist Eunice Ingham, was originally called ‘Zone Therapy’.
What is a Reflexology Chart?
The modern-day Reflexology chart originates from Zone Therapy and maps all the structures, glands, organs and systems of the body onto the feet within ten longitudinal zones, or meridians running from toes to heels. Try the circular interactive Reflexology charts below to see which areas of the feet correspond to which areas of the body...
What is Reflexology good for?
Reflexology is holistic meaning it treats the person as a whole. Reflexology is thought to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system via the vagus nerve (the tenth cranial nerve). This turns off the 'fight or flight' part of the nervous system and initiates the body's 'rest and digest' phase during which healing and repair takes place.
More than a massage.
As well as being deeply relaxing, this holistic therapy is often used to alleviate a number of physical and mental symptoms and is commonly used for:
Relieving symptoms of tension, stress and anxiety.
Aiding deep natural sleep.
Helping the body cope with the symptoms of auto-immune conditions such as pain, inflammation, fatigue and low mood.
Easing the symptoms of digestive disorders including heartburn, inflammation, and constipation.
Providing natural support for women during pregnancy and throughout maternity including the post natal period.
Supporting wellbeing for women and their partners through the conception and fertility process.
Encouraging detoxification and the natural drainage process in conditions such as lymphoedema, hormonal water retention & sinusitis.
Supporting wellbeing through the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, menopause, and other hormonal imbalances.
Helping the body cope with the side effects of conventional treatment such as fatigue, constipation, diarrhoea and headaches.
Can anyone have Reflexology?
With no age limit, this gentle therapeutic touch is something that everyone can enjoy, including babies, children, older people and those in palliative care. Some medical conditions may be subject to the Reflexologist and/or doctors approval, but this is good practice for any therapy and will be fully explored during consultation.
Can I have Reflexology when pregnant or breastfeeding?
Yes. Reflexology can be used safely throughout pregnancy and the perinatal period.
As Reflexology is holistic, it aims to gently optimise the physical and emotional health of the client and a pregnant client is no different in this regard. As well as aiding deep relaxation, Reflexology is also a great way to support a woman's wellbeing and naturally address common conditions that arise during pregnancy such as:
Anxiety, stress, overwhelm, tension and low mood
Poor sleep and fatigue
Swelling caused by fluid retention
Skin irritation of obstetric cholestasis
Pelvic pain (SPD) and low back pain
Promoting and maintaining breast milk volume
I have trained with the Association of Reflexologist's (UK) Maternity specialist, Sally Earlam BSc. PGCE. FMAR and can therefore use techniques designed specifically for all stages of pregnancy.
For those wishing to learn more, there's a great article here, which discusses using Reflexology to support the maternity journey as well as what the research says about Reflexology in the pregnancy and perinatal period.
Can I have Reflexology when I have secondary Lymphoedema?
RLD is a light touch, soothing treatment. It has all the restorative benefits of traditional Reflexology, but it focuses specifically on stimulating the lymphatic reflexes on the feet. The aim is to cause an effect on the lymphatic system in the body. Macmillan explain exactly how the lymphatic system works here.
The RLD technique is a unique sequence developed by Sally Kay during her time working in Cancer care after her observations of the effects of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) on lymphoedema.
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. According to Cancer Research UK (2011), the lifetime risk of developing it in the UK is 1:8 for women and 1:1014 for men. Approximately 20% of these patients develop secondary lymphoedema (painful tissue swelling) of the arm following treatment for breast cancer.
But lymphoedema can also manifest in the legs as part of other health conditions. It is life limiting for many and has far reaching physical and psychological effects.
Research suggests that cancer survivors with lymphoedema are more likely to suffer psychological and emotional difficulties, be more disabled, and experience a poorer quality of life than survivors without the condition. In terms of holistic health, this is not full recovery.
What is Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) good for?
As well as it's efficacy treating Lymphoedema Reflexology Lymph Drainage may also be useful in the following conditions that typically respond well to MLD:
Chronic fatigue syndrome / ME
Aches and pains
Inflammatory & autoimmune disorders
RLD research was supported by the NHS Local Health Board Research Ethics Committee (REC) and carried out by Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Will I have to prepare for my Reflexology treatment?
As the digestion process can be stimulated during Reflexology I recommend that clients have a light, low sugar meal or snack around an hour before their session. To aid detoxification it's always a good idea to be properly hydrated too so keep your water intake up before and after to help this along. Guidance for Diabetic patients, including those using insulin, is available here www.diabetes.co.uk.
How long is a session?
Typically treatments are around 75 minutes.
First appointments also include a thorough consultation taking up to 45 minutes. Each subsequent session include a follow up discussion, which is an important part of any holistic treatment.
What will I feel when I have Reflexology?
During all holistic treatments it’s possible to experience what some call energy phenomenon in the body which can be most simply explained as nerve impulses in the tissues felt as light pulsing, tingling or twitches. Other effects like getting the giggles or feeling tearful are not unusual, but it's all down to the individual and is completely natural.
After treatment, especially RLD, it's not uncommon to experience an increase in elimination (going to the toilet, sinus drainage, sweating etc), but this is a temporary effect and one seen in many holistic therapies that stimulate the body as a whole.
Reflexology isn't ticklish, neither should it be painful. A relaxing, but firm pressure is used to treat the feet, however, pressure can be adjusted to suit each client individually.
How many Reflexology sessions should I have?
Whether you want reflexology for physical or emotional health reasons, to support you during maternity, to manage lymphoedema or for pure relaxation, there is no set session requirement. However, for long-term goals regular treatment is recommended.
Courses of treatment had between every one to six weeks prove to be effective for many clients. Click here to ask more, or to book an appointment.