Reflexology: The Specialised Massage That Might Be The Answer To Your Health Concerns. But How?
Any spa-goer will have seen some type of reflexology massage on the menu. But if you’ve never had one, you may be a bit sceptical - or wonder exactly what on earth it is! Well – as the Association of Reflexologists put it, it’s a ‘non-invasive complementary touch therapy that can be effective in promoting deep relaxation and wellbeing. It’s based on the theory that different points in the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears correspond with different areas of the body.’ In layman’s terms? One hell of a therapeutic massage! We got the lowdown from Yumiko Inoue, a reflexology expert, on just how it works, and how it could help you.
What is reflexology?
“Reflexology is a type of massage that uses the application of pressure to different reflex points of the body – namely the feet, hands, face or ears – which are believed to correspond with different organs, glands and systems of the body,” Yumiko explains. “It works in a similar way to an acupressure treatment. By massaging and pressing these reflex points, any blocked energy pathways within the body can be unblocked, which allows the energy to flow freely in order to restore balance to the body.” But how will your therapist know which area of your body is affected? “If the reflex points feel tender to the therapist, it is an indication that the corresponding area of the body is out of balance. Reflexology massage releases this tension, boosting blood circulation, energy flows and toxin release.”
How could reflexology help you?
Reflexology is known to help with a series of health issues - like back pain, migraines, IBS, asthma, bladder problems, menopausal symptoms, menstrual problems – the list goes on! But according to Yumiko, it’s also extremely beneficial in helping to manage stress and anxiety. “All forms of reflexology work on the vagus nerve, so it promotes deep relaxation of both the body and mind,” she says. “There is even a type of reflexology that can assist with infertility issues. Reproductive reflexology can be used as a stand-alone treatment to enhance the natural process of fertility, as well as assisting with the efficacy of different fertility treatments or remedies, such as Clomid, IUI, IVF and ICSI. It can also be used to support individuals and couples using surrogacy or donors in IVF cycles.” Reflexology is also a pregnancy-safe treatment that can be used from early pregnancy all the way through to the baby’s birth.
What is the reflexology treatment process?
A reflexology therapist will ask their client to lie down and begin to massage the reflex points. The massage will increase in intensity throughout, but the therapist should not apply more pressure than is comfortable or manageable for you. Each session can last between 60 and 90 minutes.
Are repeat treatments needed?
A course of 5 or 6 treatments is usually recommended, depending on the health concern that is being targeted. It is possible to have facial reflexology, and many choose to do so before a special occasion, as it is known to improve the overall look of the skin – helping with texture and puffiness.
Are there any disadvantages of reflexology?
Although reflexology can be extremely effective, it’s not to be used as an alternative option to professional medical treatment, if this has been recommended. It is a complementary therapy, meaning it can be used in conjunction with medicine to maximise efficacy if needed. However, it is not guaranteed that reflexology will work for you, and it also should not be performed if you suffer from athlete’s foot, verrucas, broken skin on the feet or a recent fracture in the area.
How do you typically feel following a reflexology treatment?
“Many people will feel extremely relaxed following a reflexology treatment,” says Yumiko. “It’s also likely that you’ll feel lighter and more energised – and if you have had a problem, it is quite likely that you’ll clear your bowels soon afterwards, or release a lot of water.” It’s always recommended to drink plenty of water following a reflexology treatment, as it’ll help to release toxins from the various bodily systems that have been worked on.
How is reflexology different to other treatments such as massage or Reiki?
Although each of these therapies can be used to help alleviate similar symptoms, they are not as alike as you may think. As we know, reflexology is the application of pressure to various trigger points in the hands, face, feet and ears. Massage is generally used to alleviate physical aches and pains, such as back issues or neck pain, and can focus on the full body in one treatment. While Reiki is a different type of therapy altogether – it uses light touch to heal the body, and there is no physical pressure applied at all. It is also a treatment that can focus on the entire body as opposed to specific areas.
So, in short - if you’re in need of a mega-relaxing, symptom-easing (hopefully!) treatment that doesn’t cost the world, reflexology is definitely one to try! Or even if there is no health issue that you want to rectify – it’s a fantastic way of balancing out any bodily systems that might need a little helping hand. We’d love to hear how you found it!