Reflexology is a method of bringing about relaxation, balance and healing through the stimulation of specific points on the feet or hands.
What can Reflexology treat?
Reflexology does not claim to cure medical conditions and is not an alternative for orthodox medical treatment. However, it is beneficial for stress-related problems, helping to release tension and allowing the body’s own healing potential restore health and well-being. Research, both in the UK and other countries, has demonstrated the effectiveness of Reflexology for a wide range of conditions including:
- high blood pressure
- sleeping problems
- stress and anxiety
- asthma and sinus problems
- wound healing
- back pain
- pain relief
- menstrual problems
- digestive complaints
- overall well-being
- migraine and headaches
- as well as helping to rebalance and stimulate all bodily systems
Reflexology is based on the concept that every part of the body is connected by energy pathways which end in reflex areas on the feet, the hands and the head. Illness, stress, injury, disease, bad eating habits, lack of exercise can leave the body in a state of ‘imbalance’ with vital pathways blocked. The tension, wherever it may be, is mirrored in the corresponding reflex areas. By working over these reflexes in a precise and systematic way and by applying controlled pressure, the reflexologist stimulates the body to achieve its own natural state of wholeness, good health and equlibrium.
The practice of stimulating the body’s healing energies by using pressure points on the feet is not new. Earliest traces have been found over 5,000 years ago in China, Japan and Egypt. The therapy was re-discovered in the late 1890s by Dr William Fitzgerald, arriving in Britain in its present form in the Sixties.
Reflexology is gaining in popularity. It is simple, safe, effective – and extremely relaxing. It works well with other forms of medicine. People who have been prescribed drugs or other medical treatment find that Reflexology can help reduce or eliminate side effects and stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities after surgery, injury or trauma.
Consultation and treatment
There will be a preliminary talk with the practitioner during the initial consultation. You will then remove your shoes and socks and relax as the reflexologist begins to work on your feet or hands, noting problem areas. Reflexologists use their thumbs and fingers to apply gentle pressure. For each person, the application and effect of therapy is unique. Sensitive, trained hands can detect tiny deposits and imbalances in the feet; by working on these points, the reflexologist can release blockages and restore the free flow of energy.
Treatment usually lasts for an hour. A number of sessions will probably be necessary as the benefits of Reflexology build up gently and gradually. The exact number depends on your body’s requirements. Your reflexologist will discuss this with you.
On average, expect to pay between £15 and £25 for an hour’s treatment session. Ask your doctor if Reflexology is available at the practice. If you have private medical insurance, find out whether Reflexology is covered by your policy.
Your practitioner can teach you some self-help techniques for your hands to help release tension in stressful circumstances.
How to find a practitioner
Full members of the Association of Reflexologists (AoR) have trained on AoR-credited courses or have satisfied the Association that their training has met the required standards They use the initials MAR after their names and are included in the AoR’s register. Members of the British Reflexology Association use the initials MBRA after their names. Both organisations have codes of practice and ethics and therapists must have insurance.
AoR-accredited practitioner courses are part-time, spread over an academic year or at least nine months with a minimum of 100 hours contact teaching. Usually held at weekends or evenings, they involve a good deal of home study and practice. Some colleges and universities now run full time degree courses in complementary medicine which contain an AoR-accredited Reflexology module leading to a practitioner qualification. Although Reflexology is basically hands-on, courses do include anatomy, physiology, integrated biology, basic pathology and other areas.
Reflexology is safe for adults and children. Even premature babies have benefited from treatment. However, as children are very sensitive and responsive, short, light treatments are recommended. Certain reflexes should not be stimulated during early pregnancy. Otherwise, Reflexology is effective for morning sickness, high blood pressure and back pain. A number of studies have shows that labour times have been reduced and birthing made easier by Reflexology.
Let your practitioner know if you are on immuno-suppressants, steroids, fertility treatment or hormone replacement therapy, if you have had a pacemaker fitted or a recent organ transplant and if you are suffering from any serious medical problems.