Reflexology is a complementary therapy based on the belief that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands which are believed to correspond to all organs and parts of the body. Some practitioners may also include work on points found in the face and ears. Reflexology works on an individual basis and may alleviate and improve symptoms such as everyday stress and tension.
During a typical reflexology session the reflexologist will take a detailed medical history. Sessions are usually performed in a comfortable chair or couch. If it is to be performed on the feet, the client will be asked to remove footwear and socks but other forms of reflexology require no removal of clothing. The practitioner will make a visual and tactile examination of the area to be worked before beginning the precise reflexology massage movements. The particular types of movements involved require the application of an appropriate pressure using the thumb and fingers.
Reflexology can be a wonderfully relaxing experience where you can take time out from everyday pressures. The therapistâ€™s expert touch will help you relax which can help improve mood, aid sleep and relieve tension. The result is an overall sense of wellbeing.
Most people find that reflexology isÂ not at all ticklish! My treatment room is comfortable and warm offering you the chance to lie back and enjoy the treatment knowing that you are in experienced hands.
Duration: 60 minutes
To book an appointmentÂ and find out more information please contact me
“Reflexology with Mary is a relaxing and enjoyable experience, thanks to her expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm. I always feel I am in safe and supportive hands.“Â Steve Crowther, March 2011
More about ReflexologyÂ
Foot massage has been practised for thousands of years with records showing that it dates back to early Egyptian and Chinese civilisations. A pictogram in the Physicianâ€™s Tomb at Saqqara in Egypt, dated around 2300BC, depicts people giving and receiving hand and foot massage.
Reflexology in its current form was developed from â€˜zone therapyâ€™ which was first introduced to the West in 1915 byÂ Dr William Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat surgeon. He discovered that applying pressure to one part of the body can have an anaesthetising effect on another area. After further investigation, he claimed that the body is divided into ten equal zones, five on the left side and five on the right side, which run vertically through the body ending at the fingers and toes. He found that pressure on one part of a zone affects all areas within the same zone.
The concept of zones remains a key principle of modern reflexology. Within each zone, there is said to be a flow of energy. Periods of illness, stress or injury, however minor, can cause blockages in these vital energy pathways thus preventing the body from functioning effectively. Working on points within each zone is said help release blockages and restore the free flow of energy through the whole body. The similarity between the theory of zones and theÂ meridiansÂ in traditional Chinese medicine is a question of debate amongst reflexology practitioners.
Zone therapy was further developed in the 1930s by U.S. physiotherapist,Â Eunice Ingham, who introduced the â€˜Ingham Reflex Method of Compression Massageâ€™, later known as reflexology. She located and â€˜mappedâ€™ specific reflex areas on the feet relating to different organs, glands and parts of the body and also developed pressing techniques for stimulating these areas.
In the 1960s, one of her students,Â Doreen Bayley, introduced her ideas to the UK and other parts of Europe. Reflexology charts have been further developed over the years although they are based on the same basic principles.
An important development was the introduction of transverse zones in the 1970s by a German reflexologist,Â Hanne Marquardt. She identified three horizontal lines across the feet, marked by the bones of the foot, which help divide the foot into different areas and so enable more specific location of reflexes relating to different parts of the body.
Reflexology mapsÂ show that points are found on the soles, sides and tops of the feet and hands. The right foot and hand correspond to the right side of the body, and left foot and hand, the left side. Some parts of the body are found on one side, the spleen, for example, and so these are represented only on the appropriate foot or hand. Over recent years reflex points and areas have been located and mapped on the ears and the face.
Â A Reflexology treatment
A full reflexology treatment involves working all the reflex points so that the whole body is treated, however specific points can also be used for â€˜self-helpâ€™ and â€˜first aidâ€™ measures.
Practitioners are trained to use specific techniques to apply pressure to reflex points using finger and thumb techniques. All treatments include relaxation techniques. Each foot contains thousands of nerve endings and so relaxing the foot can have a soothing effect on the whole body. Among the more stimulating techniques is the â€˜caterpillar walkâ€™ which involves making small steps with a bent thumb or finger moving or â€˜creepingâ€™ like a caterpillar between reflex points.
Reflexology is not ticklish or painful there may, however, be fleeting moments of discomfort which are taken as an indication of congestion or imbalance in a corresponding part of the body. Practitioners work with clients to assess which reflexes need more or less stimulation and provide a balanced and individualised treatment.
A reflexology treatment usually lasts around 45 minutes to an hour. The practitioner takes a case history, asking questions about symptoms, lifestyle and medical history to ensure that the treatment can be adapted to meet individual needs.
For foot reflexology, the client sits on a reclining chair or couch with feet raised, shoes and socks removed, with the practitioner seated. There is also a form of reflexology known asÂ Vertical Reflex TherapyÂ which involves treating the client in a standing position. Originally developed in a nursing home as a way of offering reflexology to people sitting in a wheelchair, VRT is a brief but powerful treatment working on the tops of the hands and feet in a weight-bearing position.
Benefits of Reflexology
A course of treatment varies in length depending on individual needs but is usually between 6 â€“ 8 sessions. Many people have regular treatments to help maintain health and well-being.Â Reflexology is suitable for all ages and has been used to ease a wide range of acute and chronic conditions. It is said to be particularly helpful for anxiety and stress-related conditions such as insomnia and constipation, and for pain relief. Most people find a treatment most relaxing. It is offered in many specialist centres such as pain clinics and cancer centres.Â Reflexology is practised worldwide. South Africa has been acclaimed as having the highest standard of reflexology in the world, and is the first country where the government has accepted reflexology as a health profession in 2001.
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The information was adapted from Mary Atkinson’s contribution toÂ The Encyclopedia of Mind, Body and Spirit.