Our feet and hands are mini maps to our body's health which can be restored and revitalised through the expert art of gentle, targeted pressure, known as reflexology.
I first discovered reflexology when life was super stressful, and I suffered from IBS and back pain. It doesn't take much to feel off-balance, yet this simple, but powerful therapy, kept me sane and healthy and has continued to do so ever since. It's a safe and effective way to establish greater well-being within our bodies - simply by the power of touch.
The treatment involves applying gentle pressure to specific reflex points to locate areas that may be out of balance. This, in turn, stimulates the body's own natural healing process and a return to homeostasis.
Fun fact: aside from some 7,000 nerve endings, the average foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons and ligaments. Many of us are lucky to get the odd foot massage, let alone a relaxing treatment. And one that can melt away your headache by massaging the head reflex in the big toe is amazing!
Here are 7 reasons why (if you haven't already) you might want to give it a go …
1. Robust gut health
First up, the reason I fell in love with reflexology.
The gut-brain connection has been in the spotlight more recently regarding a healthy gut linked to a healthy brain. Still, for anyone suffering from the unpleasant effects of IBS like I did, it's reassuring to know that reflexology can help tackle abdominal bloating, cramps and excessive wind.
Reflexology aims to relax tension in the body's tissues and organs. And balance metabolism in key organs involved in digestion. Some clients notice instant relief after a treatment. At the same time, others have found it to be more helpful in preventing issues and managing their symptoms. This can also be particularly useful if they have a stressful event or a significant life change.
2. Respiratory boosting
Our stress levels have increased recently, and covid has made us more aware of our health and looking after it! And if you had covid, reflexology could help you to recover.
Research following long covid has shown that many clients who had covid have dry patches around the lung and chest reflex areas which can feel puffy to the touch. As a part of my treatment for those with long covid, I have been working on the reflexes of the entire respiratory and nervous systems. This improves lung function, encourages deeper, more relaxed breathing, and relieves tight chest muscles.
After regular treatments, clients have noticed an increase in energy and improved sleep patterns, as well as a reduction in the 'tightness' they felt in their chest.
3. Better Sleep
Reflexology is extremely calming to the nervous system. Clients will regularly fall asleep, and you can physically see their breathing slow down and become more relaxed. With research suggesting those aged 45-54 suffer from poorer sleep patterns, reflexology offers a gentle way to restore balance without resorting to the non-effective method of counting sheep.
Positive side effects can include lower blood pressure and a positive change in brain wave activity similar to the light sleep experienced in REM sleep. Many of my clients say how much better they slept the night after receiving treatment.
4. Restoring energy
Reflexology can be an effective and safe way to get yourself back on your (excuse the pun!) feet. An excellent option for anyone burning the candle at both ends, feeling exhausted and run down. Whilst you're slowing down and relaxing, the treatment will help improve your body's ability to detox, encourage circulation, enhance immunity, and balance your nervous system. Most people find the session to be deeply relaxing and leave feeling like they've had a proper rest.
5. Relieving pain
Pain can come in all shapes and sizes, and reflexology can offer much-needed relief from muscle tension, joint pain, stomach cramps, or headaches. The power of deeply relaxing your body and improving your circulation helps to balance the stress response and relax your muscles. After a couple of treatments, you should notice a reduction in your pain.
6. Balancing hormones
Reflexology can help soothe and regulate symptoms linked to perimenopause and menopause, such as hot flushes, night sweats, headaches and mood changes.
For some clients, the opportunity to discuss symptoms (especially with a female) and identify triggers. Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise have enabled them to support a more holistic approach to their health as they navigate this part of their journey. Other clients have reported relief in ongoing symptoms, particularly hot flushes, insomnia and mood fluctuations.
7. Support in pregnancy (and beyond)
This therapy's gentle, non-invasive nature means it's perfect for mum-to-be when she's ready for a bit of rest and relaxation. During pregnancy, many women suffer from ailments such as headaches, backaches, constipation, cramps, and swelling, and very few medications are safe. This is where reflexology comes in to help relieve some of those symptoms and make you feel more comfortable.
It's great for postpartum recovery and safe for newborn babies struggling with colic or digestive issues. What is beautiful is that the baby can sleep on your chest while you receive reflexology - so both you and your baby are relaxed simultaneously. It's advisable to wait until your second trimester to try reflexology, and always seek out a therapist trained in pregnancy care.
If you nodded at any of these reasons, you might want to give reflexology a try. Book in for an appointment with me online, or search www.aor.org.uk to find a qualified reflexologist close to you.
If you don't have time for a longer treatment or don't like the idea of having your feet touched, then stay tuned. Following the overwhelming response from 'My Crazy Idea' of creating a membership program, a safe community of like-minded people who support each other. A place where you could: start quick, easy and healthy habits to heal and nourish your mind and body or work on your self-care and wellness at any time (even if you only have 5 minutes to spare). I have something in the pipeline! More details to come very soon …
Love your feet