Pregnancy reflexology — what’s it all about?

Many of our clients are firm believers that pregnancy reflexology works. They have passed our details around ante-natal groups as our proven track record in bringing on labour and easing other earlier complications of pregnancy have gotten the word out there.

But, what if you’re in one of the groups that hasn’t benefitted from our years of experience in working with pregnant mothers?

We’ve listed below some research studies which prove pregnancy reflexology is useful for mothers to be.

Country of origin: Australia

Title Single-blind trial addressing the differential effects of two pregnancy
reflexology techniques versus rest, on ankle and foot oedema
in late pregnancy

Pair of female legs during Detox package manual lymphatic drainage to reduce swollen legs in pregnancy

Journal Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery
Authors L Mollart
Reference Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery (2003) 9, 203-208
Disease / illness Ankle and foot oedema in late pregnancy
Type of study Single blind study
Number of clients 55
Control type No treatment

 

Methods
The study took place in Australia over a two year period between September
1999 and August 2001.
Inclusion criteria were normal pregnancy greater than 30 weeks gestation;
visible oedema of ankles and feet; the ability to speak, read and write English;
and attending the Central Coast Health Clinics for pregnancy care.
It was a single blind study.
55 women age range 21 – 46, were randomly assigned to one of three
groups.
a. the experimental therapy group 1, receiving relaxing pregnancy reflexology for 15
minutes, using reflex points to the chest, abdomen, spine pelvis and head.
b. the experimental therapy group 2, receiving lymphatic foot reflexology for
15 minutes, using reflex points for the lymphatic system, liver, gastrointestinal
tract and kidneys. Grapeseed oil was used for this group during treatment to
reduce any friction.
c. the control group rested for 15 minutes but received no treatment.
At each session circumference measurements of the ankles, instep and
foot/toe junctions were recorded.
Pre and post- therapy blood pressure readings were taken and recorded.
A self administered Likert type scale and also open ended questions were
given to each participant. Questions asked included demographic information,
familiarity with pregnancy reflexology, and levels of stress, discomfort, tension and
anxiety before and after treatment.
Results
55 women finished session one, 39 finished session two and twenty
participants finished session three. Since only session one had complete data
only this session was analysed and used.
Statistical analysis of the quantitative data was analysed using Student’s t test
and one way analysis of variance and content analysis of the four open
ended questions yielded five broad themes. These themes included

Summary sheet Country of origin: UK

Two newborn baby feet between adult handsTitle A concept analysis: the effect of reflexology on homeostasis to
establish and maintain lactation

Journal COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES IN NURSING AND
MIDWIFERY
Authors Tipping, L. Mackereth, P. A
Reference 2000 VOL 6; PART 4 , page(s) 189-198
Disease / illness LACTATION
Type of study Reflective practice / concept analysis / case studies
Number of clients 3
Control type None
Methods
Definition of ‘concept analysis’ – a formal linguistic exercise to determine the
defining aspects of a concept – encouraging communication.
Use of Pregnancy Reflexology for the empowerment of Mothers with difficulty in
producing milk for pre-term babies.
Definition and importance of breastfeeding and good flow chart of the
hormones behind lactation.
‘ The aim was to convince colleagues of the appropriateness of Pregnancy Reflexology
as a nursing tool and of its integration into practice’
Very useful for hand and foot points involved in lactation.
Results
A positive, negative and borderline case history discussed.
Conclusions
None made—it is an analysis of a concept
Comments
This paper shows that well put together case histories can be published in
recognised journals.swelling/tightness, pain, mobility, comfort/relaxation and care.

Country of origin: Iran

Title Reviewing the effect of pregnancy reflexology on the pain and certain features and outcomes of the labor on the primiparous women

Karen the MAR reflexologist specialising in Fertility at Essential Feeling Gidea park, Romford giving reflexology on footJournal Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research
Authors Mahboubeh Valiani, MSc, Elaheh Shiran, Maryam Kianpour, MSc,
and Marziyeh Hasanpour, PhD
Reference Iran J Nurs MidwiferyRes. 2010 December;15(suppl 1):302-310
Disease / illness Labour in primiparous women
Type of study Quasi-experimental study
Number of clients 88
Control type No treatment
Primiparous definition—A woman who has bourne only one child.
Methods
88 primiparous women from selected hospitals in Isfahan, 18-36 years of age, and who met the inclusion criteria, took part in this quasi-experimental study.
They were randomly assigned to one of two groups—a pregnancy reflexology group and a control group who did not receive reflexology.
At the time of entering into the active phase of labour reflexology was given for 60 minutes (30 minutes on each foot). The treatment included 15 reflex areas listed below.
Solar plexus, areas related to the digestive system, pelvic area, pituitary,
outside and inside sides of the feet (including lower and upper extremities and spinal cord),
lungs, shallow chest area, ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. Treatment also included
specific areas relating to labour pain such as liver, spleen, kidney, pituitary, solar plexus and
uterus. These specific areas received a further pregnancy reflexology treatment a second time, for at
least five minutes, at dilation 9-10cm. The mothers in this group also received 1000cc of
dextrose-saline serum from the beginning of the active phase through to after the labour.
In the control group routine care was carried out which included monitoring the foetal heart
and contractions every 15 minutes and vital signs every hour. From the beginning of the
active phase the mothers in this group received 1000cc dextrose-saline f serum containing
10 units of Oxytocin, and after that additional 10 units of Oxytocin were added.
Data collection was by observation, examination and questionnaire.
There were three parts to the questionnaire –
individual information made up of demographics and age at gestation.
Features and outcomes of labour which included –
1. the lengths of the active phase of the first stage of labour and of the second and third
stages
2. agpar score in the 1st to 5th minutes after labour
3. haemorrhage rate after labour (based on the number of pads used in the 4th stage (1 hour
after labour).
4. vital signs in the first hour after labour (4th stage of labour)
Pain Rating Index (PRI) assessment was carried out using the short form of the McGill
questionnaire.
This was filled in by the mothers in both groups at 3-5 cm dilation before treatment was
given, and four times after treatment at 3-5 cm and 6-8 cm dilation and at 9-10 cm dilation in
the second stage of labour and after the second treatment was administered.
Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data using software
SPSS 18.
Results
No significant differences were found between the two groups for either demographic
information or gestational age.
Using the Wilcoxon test a significant difference was found when comparing the mean pain
intensity in the PRI scale of the pregnancy reflexology group before the treatment and after each of the
dilations and also the second stage after the second treatment. (p < 0.001).
A significant difference was also found in the mean pain intensity in VAS scale for the
reflexology group when comparing before and after the study, and in each of the dilations 3-
5 cm and 6-8 after the first treatment. A significant difference was also found before and
after the second treatment in the 9-10 cm dilation and the second stage of labour.
An assessment scale (zero no pain to 5 pain as bad as it could be) was used to assess
mean pain intensity. A Wilcoxon test on the pregnant reflexology group found that in each of the
dilations of 3-5 and 6-8 cm after the first treatment, 9-10 cm after the second treatment,
there was a significant difference between pain intensity before and after treatment (p
<0.001).

The difference between the two groups when comparing the duration of the active phase of
labour was found to be significant (p = 0.001). Cervical dilation during the active phase of the
first stage of labour was completed in 60-120 minutes for the mum-to-be reflexology group and 301
minutes in the control group.

ANOVA found a significant difference for both groups when comparing the Agpar score in
the first minute after birth (p < 0.001) and the fifth minute after birth (p < 0.001).
ANOVA found that the haemorrhage rate (based on the number of used pads) of the control
group was higher than the pregnancy reflexology group (p = 0.02) and a Mann-Whitney test based on
the blood stains left on the pads found the
haemorrhage rate of the control group to be significantly higher than the reflexology group (p
< 0.001)
Conclusions
The researchers suggest that the results from this study show that pregnancy reflexology can reduce
the length of labour, labour pain intensity, postpartum haemorrhage and an improving Agpar
score and that these can play a part in improving the health and satisfaction of the mothers.
Comments
The researchers propose that the use of pregnancy reflexology when used properly in hospitals and
maternity hospitals could have a consequence of preventing the use of pharmacological
methods and palliative medicines which could lead to side effects.

All studies © Association of Reflexologists

Dealing with menopause in women

Women who are dealing with menopause often feel like they’re going mad. Hot flashes, memory loss and disturbed sleep and mood swings; all combined with weight gain and vaginal dryness, erratic bleeding and lack of sex drive are just a handful of symptoms associated with lowering levels of oestrogen.

However, that isn’t the end. Groundbreaking new research suggests that health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s traditionally associated with age, do in fact start during the perimenopause. It’s the change in hormonal balance that triggers the plaque to form around the neurons in the brain and this new study suggests that these diseases begin when our hormone levels change, but take so long to manifest that they are only discovered when we reach older age.

It has never been more important to look after ourselves when dealing with menopause.

How does reflexology therapy help in dealing with menopause?

Reflexology balances our body. It won’t stop our bodies from changing, that is a natural part of the ageing process. But what reflexology does do is remove the stress from the process.

So for instance, we can expect our periods to be more balanced, because our hormones aren’t spiking and tumbling out of control. Anyone who is going through this will talk about how this alone is enough to give reflexology a go!

In turn, by your hormones being more balanced, we can expect the knock on effect to be improved liver and kidney function, fewer UTI’s and better skin. We’ll look and feel more healthy. And our midlife crisis will be a distant memory.

Health improvements without supplements

And what’s better, we’re not selling supplements. There’s no medical intervention with side effects. We’re literally just using pressure points in your feet to remove blockages of energy, which then allows your body to operate optimally. You never know, you sexual desires may even rekindle.

Not convinced? Here’s what the research says.

Below are the summaries of two independent research studies conducted on how women dealing with menopause can benefit from reflexology treatments. This is in addition to our own experience working for over ten years on ladies suffering from the effects of menopausal symptoms.

Research one — sleep disturbances & hot flushes

1. Methods 100, more than 12 months post -menopausal women ranging from 45-60 yrs of age and reporting sleep disorder were randomised to either reflexology or foot massage. None had taken HRT. The outcome measure was the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) which measures quality and patterns of sleep. All women taking part had sleep disorder (score >5).

Reflexology or foot massage was given for 15 minutes daily for 21 days. Base line measurements were taken from the previous four weeks prior to the intervention. There were no significant differences between the groups in any of the parameters.

Results

Hot flushes: Hot flushes at baseline were 4-9 per day and this stayed the same for the foot massage group but reduced to 2-3 per day in the reflexology group. This was a statistical difference of p<0.001

Sleep: Both interventions had an effect – 41.5% reflexology and 19.1% of the nonspecific massage had normal sleep after the intervention. But the difference between groups shows a statistical difference of p<0.01 towards the reflexology group.

Conclusions ‘Reflexology is an effective non-hormonal approach for treatment of sleep disorder (in the menopause).’

Research two — Hot flushes and night sweats

2. Methods Outcome measures: Women’s Health Questionnaire (WHQ) using the sub-scores for anxiety and depression A visual analogue scale for severity of symptoms

Frequency of flushes and night sweats (options – flushes 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16- 20; night sweats, 0-5, 6-10, more than 10). 6 weekly treatments of 45 mins. followed by one treatment per month for three months. (Minimum inclusion criteria of 7 treatments)

Results Both groups had a reduction in symptoms but there was not a statistically significant difference between the two groups.

Conclusions Reflexology wasn’t more effective than foot massage in the treatment of the psychological symptoms of the menopause. They needed a larger sample size. The study was under-powered. There were limitations on the recording of the flushes and night sweats. The effect of the placebo effect was miss estimated. There was a relatively short duration of follow up. The blinding of the control was of limited success.

Comments The limitations of the flush / night sweat notation is that there is a big difference to a menopausal woman between having five flushes or zero flushes, yet these would have entailed the same tick box to be marked. This measure would not truly represent the effect of the treatment to the women. It is important to be aware of the limitations of the outcome measurement chosen. This isn’t a great study in methodological terms nor is it particularly well written up BUT it is controlled and for a reflexology study is relatively large with almost 50 in each group (47 / 53).

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After surgery massage.

Why do you need an after surgery massage?

There are many reasons you need an after surgery massage. The reasons may range from easing pain from post-operative scar tissue right the way down to reducing swelling in your body as it struggles with healing on its own.

The massage we use for these different issues vary depending what you need.

For instance, if you’re struggling with stubborn scars which are itching, restricting movement or raised (keloids) and looking unsightly, then we’d be likely to use myofascial release therapy to unstick the fibres that are causing the adhesions to clump together. This after surgery massage therapy helps to reduce the blood flow to the scar tissue that causes it to be raised.

At the other end of the scale is the light touch manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), which is another common after surgery massage. MLD is great for reducing swelling and helps decrease a patient’s recovery time and improving the end results of the scar. It does this by reducing the post surgery swelling and scar tissue formation (fibrosis).

Plastic surgeons often recommend manual lymphatic drainage, particularly as a post liposuction massage as it is safe and incredible effective using only gentle friction.

How does the healing process work? And what are the benefits of after surgery massage?

Our body carries oxygen and nutrients that it needs to help heal us in blood flow. Massage therapy increases our blood flow, and so a massage is how we can help our body naturally heal. An increase in blood flow produces not only an increase in the blood, but all the good stuff our body uses to piece us back together post surgery. This applies to muscles and joints as well as postoperatively, by the way. Once the blood has delivered all these nutrients, it removes the waste. It’s this removal of toxins and metabolic waste that also helps us to heal. So the more blood flow, the better our healing process.

Now, with particular types of scarring that can be helped by after surgery massage therapy, we’re working differently. All the above still happens, but then your massage therapist has trained in different techniques that allow us to support your body and your healing process in additional ways.

When you have an operation including plastic surgery and liposuction or freeze sculpting, they often disrupt the lymph flow which means your body can’t heal. If you use MLD as your choice of therapeutic massage after surgery then this supports the lymphatic system. This modality uses light pressure to stimulate the part of our body that helps drain away the waste and aids the healing process. After surgery it can become overloaded to the point where swelling occurs, impeding us so much that it often affects our range of movement.

Reduce scar tissue

To help reduce scar tissue on patients, myofascial release massage can be beneficial. When we injure ourselves our body sends additional blood to heal the affected site. So when a doctor slices through our flesh, our body goes into overdrive. It doesn’t know that they did this with good intention, all it’s intent on doing is sealing our damaged skin, muscle and tissues back together again. This excess blood leads to several effects; the heat that makes us itch, and the red swelling either side of the incision.

This can help as much if you’ve cut your finger on a broken glass down to post breast surgery, including mastectomy for cancer treatment. In this situation, massage can also help reduce stress, tension and anxiety and improving postoperative circulation.

In its eagerness to seal us back together, our body often overstimulates, increasing collagen.

This increased production is why all the sticky fibres that pull the skin back together can be a little too much. If we don’t have a scar tissue massage, we will often find that our range of movement is hindered by our once mobile flesh now being stuck to bones and other deeper set body parts that they were never meant to adhere to. Myofascial release literally massages your scar to release this sticky fascia and not only improve the appearance of your wound but also reduce the appearance of that red swelling.

fascia for after surgery massage
Fascia which is released during myofascial release therapy

Other conditions that may benefit from after surgery massage include:tummy tuck MLD manual lypmhatic drainage

Capsular contracture — during breast augmentation surgery a complication can arise in which internal scar tissue forms around the breast implant. This constricts the blood and lymph supply to the area, resulting in a misshapen and hard breast.

Hip replacement — an after surgery massage will loosen up tight muscles and help create improved flexibility as well as helping to improve blood supply to the area and improving skin elasticity. MLD will also help to decrease any buildup of fluids caused from the damage the surgical procedure has created.

Injury caused from abdominal surgery, including liposuction and tummy tuck. This encourages faster healing, reduced long-term discomfort and chronic swelling. This also applies to any kind of plastic surgery, including butt lifts.

Breast surgery, including enhancement procedures and cancer treatments.

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Why massage is the best of natural anxiety treatments

If you’re looking for natural anxiety treatments, I bet you haven’t considered massage. Here’s why you should.

Many people think massage is only good for treating muscle pain. And for sure, they may relax when they go to a spa day, but somehow we never really get as far as making the link into massage being one of the best natural anxiety treatments out there.

Having a massage has many physiological effects on our body, which not only improves our immune system but also gives the body what it needs to cope effectively with stress, thus reducing our anxiety and depression.

Just think about a time when you have received a great massage from a well-trained therapist. How do you feel when you get up off the table?

The effects of your massage aren’t just looser muscles easing a sore back. You feel calm, your breathing is slower and your blood pressure drops as your heart rate slows. These are proven physical effects of massage on these conditions, it is not a placebo.

Types of anxiety

The 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classifies 7 official anxiety disorders of the mind:

According to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there are 7* classified anxiety disorders. Their effects can range on the scale from mild to debilitating.

*Separation Anxiety Disorder

*Selective Mutism

*Specific Phobia

*Social Phobia (fear of socialising or social situations)

*Panic Disorder (potential for panic attacks)

*Agoraphobia (increased heart rate when confronted with leaving the security of your personal space)

*Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) including obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Massage is an effective natural health remedy to all these and helps you stay naturally positive with a healthy and calm outlook without the adverse effects of some other psychological medications that dampen your neurotransmitters.

massage can boost mental clarity and improve anxiety

What are the best massage styles to act as natural anxiety treatments?

The Mayo Clinic reports a 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, the stress hormone, by up to 30 percent after just one session. This is because massage increases blood flow (and all the good stuff including serotonin) in much the same way exercise does. The issue is, that when you’re suffering with anxiety and depression, much as you may want to get out and jog around the block, the disorder prevents you from literally taking the next step.

It doesn’t matter what type of massage you choose.

You could have a soothing Swedish massage which relaxes the entire body, but if you’re struggling with tight muscles, then a deep tissue massage will help your anxiety and depression too. They have proven both complementary therapies to help you, so it’s down to you to determine your ideal choice. What’s better is that you can do this as your therapist works. If we find an area that you feel needs more pressure, then just say. We can adjust according to your needs.

It’s down to what you feel you need most.

A recent study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety found participants who received regular massage therapy for 12 weeks had a 50 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms. There wasn’t a need for the massage to be a particular style. What’s better is that these effects of massage as a natural anxiety treatment lasted.  Their reduced anxiety symptoms were still 50 percent lower after 26 weeks. That’s six months without a massage session.

What’s better is that the calming effects of massage in dealing with anxiety disorder mean that symptoms such as muscle tension and sleep disturbances also improve.

It’s a win win.

Symptoms of anxiety that massage helps.

As we’ve said, massage benefits physiologically and easing stress. Anxiety is a mental health disorder that affects twice as many women as men down to the hormonal balance of the female brain composition. And it isn’t limited to an age. We see children as young as nine suffering with crippling anxiety and panic attacks right the way through to the older generation facing a single life for the first time.

If you have anxiety, you’ll worry excessively about anything. It could be one thing, or a whole host all at once. And this will be persistent, with you being preoccupied by worry more days than you aren’t.

This can manifest as you feeling restless, or on edge. It will often affect your sleep quality, patterns and result in you waking feeling like you’re still tired (insomnia). You could be easily fatigued over the course of the waking day. And you’ll often struggle to concentrate and being more irritable than is your disposition outside of being anxious.

All of this ties in with muscle tension that often creeps up on you if you’re suffering with panic slowly.

Massage is an effective natural anxiety treatment that you know is safe. The thing with many of the herbal supplements out there is that you don’t know how they work with what else is going on in your body. Much like the pills your doctor would prescribe, they are good at helping one thing. But it’s important to consider how this combination of supplements works with what is already in your body.

Many people will take magnesium. But, what is your current magnesium levels? Do you know? Because if you don’t you could easily overdose. Your anxiety and depression disorder may not be due to a lack of magnesium. And too much can cause serious side effects including irregular heartbeat, confusion and in extreme cases death. For sure, these are the worst cases, but you don’t have any of this uncertainty with a massage.

Plus a massage is a fast acting natural anxiety treatments. Remember the evidence-based research we quoted earlier. You feel better right after the massage and if you keep up with a course, then the effects are long lasting.

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