By Diane Palliser, Reflexologist
“If you’re feeling out of kilter
Don’t know why or what about
Let your feet reveal the answer
Find the sore spot work it out”
– Eunice D. Ingham
Reflexology is one of the oldest healing practices in the world as evidenced by Chinese and Egyptian texts, illustrations and artefacts. Cleopatra’s lover Mark Antony was reported as being particularly skilled in the area of foot massage, provoking the scorn of his rival Caesar, who, on witnessing Mark Antony massaging Cleopatra’s feet at a party remarked that “it showed his pathetic enslavement to her”. Another, much more recent female icon, Princess Diana is also reported to have had reflexology 3 times a week.
However, Reflexology is not just a luxury treatment enjoyed by goddesses but can also be beneficial to pets, babies, people overcoming addictions, people with and recovering from cancer and those living with Alzheimer’s, to name a few.
Through circulation stimulation and internal organ stimulation on glands corresponding to areas mapped out on the feet, an amazing 2000 points on the body can be reached. Although the hands can be worked on, it is preferable to work on the feet due to the wider surface area and it tends to be much more relaxing.
Many clients use reflexology to help ease the symptoms of stress and anxiety. When we experience anxiety we feel it most in the head and stomach area resulting in tension headaches, sleeplessness and in the stomach area; shallow breathing, knots in the stomach and ensuing digestive problems.
When an individual is highly stressed, cortisol and epinephrine is being over produced in the brain, allowing the sympathetic nervous system to take over, making it difficult to relax and possibly resulting in panic attacks. Working over the zones relating to the head such as the pineal, pituitary and adrenal glands will help to calm and restore balance to the nervous system.
Soothing the stomach area can also bring relief through concentrating on the solar plexus (an area associated with the storage of emotion) helping to calm the emotions and reduce the feeling of a knotted stomach. Stress can be a major trigger in IBS in which case working over the digestive system can be highly beneficial.
Due to the force of gravity, toxins often accumulate in the feet and also as they are the organs furthest away from the heart, the circulation can stagnate in this area resulting in the formation of uric acid and calcium crystals caused by gravity drawing the toxins downward. Massaging the feet promotes blood flow to the area and dispersing the crystals created through the buildup of toxins and helps to kick start and maintain the body’s ability to self-heal and return to its natural balanced and healthy rhythms. This in return can result in a reduction, or occasionally an elimination, of medications especially where the conditions are stress related. To achieve good results a course of treatment, usually once a week for 6 weeks, is recommended.
Some people are put off having reflexology through fear of having their feet tickled and are surprised when they try it to find that it doesn’t tickle at all due to the firm pressure of the movements over the feet.
Sessions normally last an hour with a 15 minute consultation allowed for the first session in order to identify any existing medical conditions which will then help to determine the course of the treatment(s). Loose clothing should be worn to ensure comfort during the treatment and shoes and socks only are removed. Clients can then recline on a couch in an atmosphere designed to induce relaxation through the use of calming music and essential oils.
Reflexology itself is deeply relaxing and my clients often report feeling like they’ve had a full body massage afterwards and a greater sense of overall well-being over time.
To find out more contact the Physio & Therapies reception team on 01706 819464 or read more on our website www.physiotherapies.co.uk