What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a form of complementary' medicine and involves a method of treatment using massage to reflex areas found in the feet and the hands. Most commonly, the feet are used as the areas to be treated.
In the feet, there are reflex areas corresponding to all the parts of the body and these areas are arranged in such a way as to form a map of the body in the feet with the right foot corresponding to the right side of the body and the left foot corresponding to the left side of the body. By having the whole body represented in the feet, the method offers a means of treating the whole body and of treating the body as a whole. This latter point is an important factor of a natural therapy and allows not only symptoms to be treated but also the causes of symptoms.
The method has been used for several thousands of years and is known to have been practised in a similar manner by the Chinese and the Egyptians. More recently, Reflexology was described in the form in which it is now known by the late Eunice Ingham, an American lady, who based her method of treatment on work called 'Zone Therapy' which had been described some years earlier in the 1920's by an American, Dr. William Fitzgerald.
The main pioneer of Reflexology in Great Britain was the late Doreen Bayly who introduced the method in the early 1960's and whose great determination to stimulate awareness and interest in the method should not be forgotten.
Reflexology does not claim to be a 'cure-all' but many people have found they have been helped by reflexology. Surveys carried out by The British Reflexology Association showed benefits to those presenting with symptoms of stress, insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome. According to Nicola Hall in her book 'Reflexology for Women' help may be given for ' a wide range of disorders including headaches, migraines, sinus congestion, stiffness in the neck and back, digestive problems, hormonal problems'. Most people who have experienced a reflexology session would agree that the method is a very relaxing therapy which may reduce tension and lead to an improved sense of well-being.
What to expect from reflexology treatment
When first visiting a Reflexology practitioner, a detailed medical history will be taken. The patient will then be seated in some form of recliner chair or similar sitting position and will be asked to remove the shoes and socks.
The practitioner will initially examine the feet before commencing with the precise massage movement. The particular type of massage involved requires the application of a firm pressure using the side and end of the thumb. In some instances, the fingers may also be employed. All areas on both feet will be massaged.
Areas corresponding to parts of the body which are out of balance will feel uncomfortable or tender when massaged and the degree of tenderness will indicate the degree of imbalance. The sensitivity of the feet varies from person to person and the trained practitioner will understand the correct pressure to apply and how to interpret the tendernesses felt. The massage should not be very uncomfortable to even the most sensitive of feet.
The full treatment session will last approximately three-quarters of an hour and at the end of a session the feet should feel warm and the patient relaxed. The number of treatment sessions required will vary depending on the condition being treated.
Following treatment, it is sometimes possible that the eliminating systems of the body become more active in order to rid the body of unwanted toxic matter. However, if treatment is correctly applied, these reactions should not be severe.
It is not necessary for a GP referral to try reflexology treatment but reflexology can not give a medical diagnosis and a client would not be discouraged from visiting their GP.