The number one question I’m asked is, ‘what is reflexology?’ So here is my personal perspective. As a practitioner there are certain things we can and can not claim, legally and to be within the confines of professional conduct. You’ll read that elsewhere on this site, but here; well, this is my take on the ins and outs of reflexology. As a person.
When I first trained to be a reflexologist, I remember people asking me, ‘Oh, isn’t that feet. How can you touch someone’s foot?’ The truth. It never even entered my head. I was so caught up in being able to learn the ancient art of healing someone from pressure points that it never even occurred to me that I would have to deal with all kinds of ugly feet.
And ten or so years on, I still never think about it. Because I’m so fascinated with the ability to improve people’s health and pain with a therapy that is focussed on a different area of their body to where they are experiencing their issues.
Reflexology is the complementary therapy which uses a zone format to trigger reactions in different areas of our client’s bodies. This treatment is so much more than a foot massage as many people think of it. We have reflex points that we use our hands and fingers on to improve the functioning of specific organs. This includes the brain, and in particular stress anxiety and sleep disorders.
What medical conditions can reflexologists who have had training help with?
If you speak to any doctor with modern thinking they’ll tell you that stress leads to approximately 90% of all disease. For sure this may well be indirectly, but if you track it back, the figure lands up somewhere in this region.
Research studies have shown that practitioners can legally claim that they can help with the symptoms of stress. But in reality, what I have experienced is benefits far beyond this one condition. Perhaps it’s because we don’t think about stress as being an underlying condition which almost encourages other diseases to manifest, but regardless, the effects of reflexology on any number of conditions including fertility and cancer can mean it is a practice that stretches further than the hour of the session.
So what body parts can you help with reflexology?
Pretty much any body part. When I’m running my finger on the underside of your sole during a reflexology treatment, I can feel if an organ or system is out of balance. For instance, if I am working on your right foot, I may feel some crunching, or popping under the surface of your skin when I put pressure on. This may mean that your liver is out of balance. It does not mean that you have liver failure, liver damage or any other such disease. It may mean that it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a medical practitioner if this goes on over a few sessions, but we do not diagnose. We can simply tell that your liver is struggling.
Working this back the other way with a health history is really helpful. So a client will come to us and say that they have an issue with fertility for instance. Often this can be an inexplicable reason, other times it will be because of a diagnosed condition such as endometriosis or PCOS.
I will then focus my attention to specific areas, say the reproductive area and then track back throughout the body system where else I think is out of balance. Using my training and years of specialist experience in fertility, I’ll then work with the client to see what we think they can change in their lifestyle to have a positive effect on their chances of conception.
It’s not unusual in an example such as the above to feel some imbalance around the ankle areas. These are the reproductive reflex zones. But, if the client is under a ton of stress, this can affect their relaxation and nervous system. There’s more on this here. It’s likely I’ll find something also out of balance around their toes.
Reflexology never fails to astound me on how it can affect and improve a health condition seemingly unrelated to the feet.
Doesn’t a reflexology session cover an entire body?
Yes it does. When I mention I’ll focus on an area, it means that I know this is why the client is coming and it gives me a starting point for which internal organs I need to zone in on and track back. But, I will always work your entire body during a session. We’ve seen too many times how one health condition can be affected by body health in a seemingly unrelated area.
Is reflexology a medical treatment or a complementary treatment?
Absolutely it is complementary. Doctors can prescribe and you can take traditional medication whilst receiving the complementary benefits of reflexology, either alongside or separate to whatever conventional treatment your doctor sees fit to give you for any condition.
Can reflexology be used to relieve pain?
I have studied and therefore have professional training in a particular branch of reflexology which uses nerve reflex points to reduce pain. This could be something as common as period pain (and/ or premenstrual syndrome), down to neuropathy or ongoing pain management. Using targeted acupressure in these instances is amazing. It shocks me every time. And I’ve been doing this for years now.
But here’s the thing. You come in, relax in a reclining chair and give me your feet. I press a few areas and can tell which part of your nervous system is struggling. And that’s when we get to work on using nerve reflexology to ease discomfort. We do not diagnose or classify symptoms associated with an issue. That’s down to your GP.
This is where we have issues. Because there generally isn’t the funding to show beyond anecdotal evidence that the energy flow client’s enjoy when they receive reflexology is useful in relieving chemical imbalances that lead to many diseases. We need significant current discussions to develop into clinical studies if this alternative therapy.
How do you qualify to be a reflexologist?
My certification is of a standard high enough for me to be a part of the AOR which is the Association of Reflexologist’s. So, for me, the efficacy of my training was far more advanced than some other courses which people can do. For instance, there is a one day course that I know of some local practitioners doing.
My education spanned months with hours of teaching on practical skills being developed alongside anatomy and physiology content. For instance, I learned not just about the human body, but also about chronic diseases such as diabetes. I learned how the pancreas can be fundamental if you’d like to avoid eye disease. And the integrative nature of how all the systems in our body link to create overall health, or illness. So the consultation process is so invaluable when you come for a session with us. It helps form the basis of your treatment, because we understand so much about the different conditions of our body — and how to use reflexes to ease the issues you are undergoing.
At the end of my training I sat an exam which gave me a level three therapists qualification which means I can practise in the UK and abroad.
Karen is the lead reflexologist at Essential Feeling who are based in Gidea Park, Romford, Essex. You may book your session online today.