Every year in the last week of September, reflexologists around the world organise events to celebrate World Reflexology Week to promote awareness of this remarkable therapy.
Definition of reflexology
"Reflexology is a science and art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears, which are microcosms of the body, reflecting the entire body; all glands and organs. By applying pressure with specific thumb and finger techniques, reflexology will reduce tension, promote relaxation, increase circulation, and bring the body back to balance/homeostasis."
Our hands are of the utmost importance when it comes to touching, sensing and communicating with others. They are used in daily phrases all the time, like:
Got your hands full
Try your hand at ...
Know it like the back of your hand
In good hands
All hands on deck
Bite your hand off
Force his hand
Get the upper hand
My hands are tied
Talk to the hand
Wash your hands of it
And my favourite ... cold hands, warm heart!
Perhaps this is why they have such a powerful role in the healing process, whether they are providing a treatment or receiving one.
Hand reflexology is a very simple yet effective therapy that most clients find pleasant and deeply relaxing. Although some consider it to be a poor relation to foot reflexology, hand reflexology is often more convenient and can be just as effective as its sister therapy.
A brief history
Hand acupressure and hand analysis have appeared in old Chinese writings that go back thousands of years.
Hand reflexology goes back to 1913 when the modern-day authority on the subject was Dr William Fitzgerald. Known as the grandfather of reflexology, Dr WIlliam Firzgerald focussed on the hands in his early work, using tools such as metal combs, clothes pegs and elastic bands. He worked on people's hands to alleviate morning sickness, stomach upsets, and ear, eye and thyroid problems.
In his 1917 book, Zone Therapy or Relieving Pain in the Home, Fitzgerald wrote about working on the palmer surface of the hands for pains in the back of the body. And the dorsal side (back of the hands) for problems in the front of the body.
Another physician, Dr Joe Shelby, learned Zone Therapy from Fitzgerald, used it widely in his practice, and wrote many books on the subject. Riley also made the first detailed drawings of the reflex points located on the hands (and feet).
When most people think of reflexology, they think of the feet. However, in more recent years, hand reflexology is becoming more popular. They are just as effective in treating clients and are often more accessible and easy to use for self-help points.
What are the benefits of hand reflexology?
There are many benefits of reflexology, one of the main ones being relaxation. This is because it strengthens the connection between mind and body, relieves stress and promotes deep relaxation.
Reflexology also works to alleviate aches and pains throughout the body, such as headaches, back and shoulder pain and more. It can have a significant positive effect on those with certain medical conditions.
Gently working to relieve the lactic acid build-up, it promotes healing which is great for those who enjoy working out to help speed up recovery. There is a huge range of other benefits, including but not limited to:
Boosting circulation: either following an injury or resulting from a long-term complaint, such as Raynaud's.
Increased flexibility: by improving mobility and easing joint movement, particularly in older people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Pain relief: from chronic issues such as arthritis and osteoarthritis. It can also contribute to the alleviation of common everyday difficulties caused by repetitive motion, such as carpal tunnel caused by computer use.
This type of treatment may also provide some relief for the following conditions:
Shoulder and back pain
Irritable bowel syndrome
Symptoms of menopause
Sinus and breathing problems
Is Hand Reflexology Safe?
Generally, hand reflexology is very safe and effective. However, there are a few cautions to beware of before having a session. For example, reflexology isn't recommended during the first semester of pregnancy as it can trigger early contractions. If you're unsure if it's safe for you or have any concerns, you should discuss this with your reflexologist, midwife, or doctor before treatment.
Hand Reflexology or Foot Reflexology: Which is better?
Hand reflexology can be just as effective as foot reflexology while remaining more convenient. The reflex points within your hands are much deeper than in the feet, so more pressure must be applied during hand reflexology to get the same results. If you have decided you want to visit a hand reflexologist for a session but are unsure where to look, you've come to the right place.
For my Autumn offer, a 'Balancing Body Treat', you can choose hand reflexology, face reflexology, or the more traditional foot reflexology. You can also try 3flexology, which includes the hands, and look for pure hand reflexology sessions coming soon, all of which you can book online.
How to do hand reflexology at home
If you're interested in trying Hand Reflexology, the best thing to do is find a qualified reflexologist. They can apply their specialist knowledge to meet your specific goals. However, if you're just looking for general relaxation, you can try the basics either yourself or with the help of a willing friend!
Here are the 5 steps you can follow at home:
Relax the hand by rubbing your thumb in wide movements over your palm, working out from the centre to the edges. Then, gently rub down in long, straight motions from the knuckles to the wrist. Be careful not to press too hard and hurt yourself!
Wrap your hand around each finger one by one and gently rotate at the joint, as if using a joystick on an arcade machine. You may like to add a small amount of oil or hand cream.
Wake up the hand meridians by pinching the end of each finger. You can see which meridian each point relates to by looking at a reflexology map. Remember that each hand is different!
Starting at the base of each finger, rub in small anti-clockwise circles until you reach the tip.
Apply gentle pressure in small circles all over the palms, pads and backs of the hand, working down to the wrist.
Drink a big glass of water! Increased circulation may result in your body processing expelling waste, toxins and lactic acid faster, so it needs water to help flush everything out.
"Life is short. Be Silly, indulge, and treat yourself to regular reflexology.”
Psst ... here are the ways you can work with me, in case you were wondering ... https://linktr.ee/waterlilytherapies