Did you know, from stress to hormones, how reflexology, a gentle yet effective natural therapy, can improve your wellbeing?
As we approach World Reflexology Week (20-26 September 2021), let's look at some of the different ways this gentle but powerful therapy can support your health and wellbeing…
What is reflexology?
Reflexology dates back more than four millennia. It's based on the principle that particular 'reflex' points found on the soles, tops and sides of the feet correspond to different areas of the body. In this way, the feet act as a 'map' of the whole body. The most common area to treat is the feet. However, reflex points can also be found on the hands, ears and face.
The aim of a reflexology treatment is to help restore balance to the body naturally and improve general wellbeing. To do this, therapists apply specialised massage techniques to the reflexology points. They will usually work these various points using their thumbs, fingers and knuckles. However, some may incorporate special tools to enhance treatment.
Benefits of reflexology
Reflexology can help aid relaxation and improve sleep. Additionally, a survey of FHT reflexologists* found that 71 per cent of clients have regular treatments to support their long-term health conditions. These conditions can range from stress and anxiety to joint and mobility issues.
Want to discover how reflexology can benefit your wellbeing? Here are six key areas where it can help to make a difference…
Stress is such a common phrase nowadays. In fact, we can often forget the enormous toll it can take on our health. Stress can affect us physically, emotionally and mentally. It can also lead to unhealthy behaviours such as drinking alcohol, smoking or eating too much or too little. The good news is that studies have shown reflexology can help to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. What's more, it can help improve mood and sleep while relieving anxiety and tension.
Reduced frequency of headaches
Reflexology can be used as an analgesic treatment, particularly to relieve headaches and migraines, as it relieves tension in the muscles resulting in these conditions.
In many cases, headaches are caused by stress, so the relaxing and stress-reducing effects of reflexology can cut to the root of the problem. It can also prevent the physical symptoms of a stress-induced headache from developing.
Increased energy levels
Reflexology can increase metabolism and the body's energy-creating processes, helping you get out of a sluggish, tired state and back to embracing the day with a spring in your step.
Menopause usually affects women between 45 and 55 as their oestrogen levels decline. While it's a natural part of the ageing process, it can bring a range of unpleasant symptoms. Among these are hot flushes, night sweats, sleep problems and low mood. Working specific reflexes on the feet that correspond with the reproductive system can help to restore balance and relieve symptoms.
Relieves pains and tension
As discussed, reflexology can help treat headaches. It's also great for neck pain, migraines, and upper and lower back pains. Massaging your feet will also treat and prevent many foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis.
A small research study carried out by FHT Fellow Carol Samuel at the University of Portsmouth found that people who received reflexology felt around 40 per cent less pain. In addition, these people could stand pain for about 45 per cent longer than when they received a fake electrical nerve stimulation treatment. Other studies also suggest that reflexology may help reduce pain perception in people with rheumatoid arthritis, lower back pain, multiple sclerosis and menstrual pain.
Preparing for conception
Trying to conceive can be a stressful time for some couples. Reflexology promotes relaxation and restores balance in the body, creating a better emotional and physical state to help support new life.
Thinking of trying reflexology? It's important to find a professional, suitably qualified and accountable therapist. Visit the AoR Directory (www.aor.org.uk) to find a local therapist you can trust.
*2019 FHT Reflexology Survey, 188 respondents
Reflexology: a roadmap to relaxation
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