- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Benefits of Reflexology: My Personal Experience
This article explores my own personal experience of the health benefits of Reflexology. One person's experience can never provide conclusive scientific proof that reflexology works, but I can share what the experience has been like for me. I have written about the health benefits I have experienced since beginning Reflexology treatments and some other things that may perhaps surprise you.
Because I wanted to share as much information as possible with readers who might be searching for information about Reflexology, I also did an interview with Julia my Reflexology Therapist. I hope that this will answer a lot of the most common questions, not just about the benefits but also, whether it is safe, how often reflexology treatments are needed and so on
Julia runs Heal and Sole Holistics with her husband Kevin who is a Reiki Master Practitioner and Teacher and I have published the transcript of this interview as part of this HubPages article - so please scroll down the page if you want to read this first.
My Own Reflexology Experience
My experience with Reflexology began in April 2014 when I had been suffering from some pretty unpleasant digestion problems. These problems had been troubling me for some time, since my Mum passed away in June 2007 in fact. However, over the winter of 2013 and into 2014, IBS-like symptoms and acid reflux had become much more troublesome.
I did some quite extensive reading online about these problems as I believe in self-help, using natural remedies and avoiding prescription medications whenever possible. I found quite a lot of information pointing to positive health benefits from Reflexology for many problems, including digestive issues.
I decided to explore this further and found that Julia came to a fitness studio in my hometown once a month. Having asked around, receiving some very good positive feedback about Julia's professionalism and other people's results, I booked my first appointment with her in April last year. Since then, the fitness studio has closed and appointments are now in Julia's beautiful garden treatment room at her home in a nearby town.
As this article is all about my own personal experience, I will only be talking about foot reflexology as this is the type of treatment I have had.
Some Reflexologists also work on hands, lower leg, face, and ears.
My First Reflexology Session
My first session began with a consultation on my health problems, any medication I was taking and explaining more about Reflexology. Right from the beginning, I felt relaxed with Julia who is a very calm, professional and centered person who inspires confidence.
I also felt that her approach was entirely holistic, she was looking at me as a whole person, not just at the symptoms I had told her about. Sadly, just about all you ever have the opportunity for in a '10 minute slot' with a Doctor working in General Practice within the NHS here in the UK is to tell him or her the specific problem you are experiencing at the moment.
Each subsequent session has begun with a brief recap of my health issues and whether anything has changed since last time. This gives Julia the opportunity to focus more attention on reflexology points corresponding to areas of concern.
I Have Ticklish Feet!
I was a little concerned about how the treatment would go - as I do have ticklish feet! However, I need not have worried - as the way your feet are touched by a Reflexologist is not 'tickly' at all. Quite firm pressure is applied to some points and a gentler touch in other areas. It is different from having a massage but the whole experience for me is always very relaxing, soothing and calming.
Why Were Some Reflexology Points Uncomfortable?
I was surprised in that first treatment, to find that some points Julia worked on were quite uncomfortable - enough to make me flinch a couple of times. As I had no idea of which points on the foot corresponded to which parts of the body, I was surprised to learn that the areas where I found this discomfort were those linked to the digestive system, kidneys and urinary tract. Bearing in mind that I had decided to try the treatment because of the digestive system problems I had been experiencing, that really set me thinking!
After My Treatment, a Healing Reaction
After my treatment was finished Julia gave me a glass of water to drink while she discussed her findings and what she had worked on specifically. She advised me to relax as much as possible for the rest of the day and drink plenty of water and to let her know how I got on.
I did as instructed, but the following day I had a really bad headache - and I do mean bad! I felt sick with it and painkillers did not touch it. I kept drinking water and by the evening it had subsided - the following morning, I felt fine.
Julia explained that this was a healing reaction, it is apparently quite unusual to have as severe a reaction as I had - and I have not experience the same intensity again. I have monthly reflexology treatments now and the only time I have had a headache afterwards is when I have missed a month through being away when Julia visits.
The Health Benefits I Have Experienced From Reflexology
Since my very first reflexologist treatment, my digestive problems have improved immeasurably! I hardly ever have acid reflux or the IBS-type pain, bloating and wind that used to be very frequent. I would continue with Reflexology just for this reason but I have found many other health benefits too and when you read Julia's interview answers and understand a little more about how Reflexology works, you will see why I feel it is so important to keep those Meridian Channels flowing freely and keep the body working at its optimum.
Several times, I have experienced some slight discomfort when she has worked on particular areas of my feet. I made a conscious decision at the beginning not to study the reflexology chart so that I would not be influenced - but the evidence is conclusive for me - for example in one session where I experienced quite a lot of sensitivity, I asked Julia and found that the sensitive areas on my feet corresponded to the urinary tract. This surprised me as I had mild cystitis at the time and I had not mentioned this to her before my treatment.
The Points Corresponding to The Digestive System
I found the following video quite helpful in explaining the areas of the foot corresponding to parts of the digestive system
How To Find a Reflexologist Practitioner Near You
There is a lot of help online, wherever you live in the World if you do not have the benefit of first hand recommendation from a family member, friend or colleague. Below are some links that should help you in your quest to experience the benefits of reflexology for yourself.
Reflexology Associations, Find a Reflexologist Near You
My Interview With Julia
Below is the transcript of my interview with Julia Stevens of Heal and Sole Holistics - find out more about Julia, her practice and her husband, Kevin's Reiki practice by using the link I have provided to her website.
Thank you Julia for allowing me to publish this and for the images you so kindly supplied (and of taking a pic of my feet for the header image!).
I began the interview by asking Julia a little about herself, how long she has been practicing, what sparked her interest in Reflexology and why she had decided to train as a Reflexologist.
I have been practicing for 2 years. I was ready to change my 26 year career in banking and having always had an interest in complementary therapies and ethical living, I decided this was the route I would like to follow for my second career. I chose to train in reflexology as I was fascinated how points on the feet connect to the whole body.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a complementary holistic therapy which works on the feet to help heal and balance the whole body.
A Helpful Introductory Video
What Are The Benefits of Reflexology?
Reflexology can bring relief to a wide range of conditions; it is deeply relaxing and can help reduce stress and tension.
How and Why Does Reflexology Work?
Julia: The theory is that reflexology helps the body to restore its balance naturally; there are several theories as to how it actually does this, the main ones being the Meridian Theory and the Nerve Impulse Theory.
Meridian channels run throughout the body, when they become blocked, the body does not function as efficiently. Blockages can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress and emotional issues, illness and trauma.
Through the application of pressure to the reflex points using specific thumb and finger techniques, reflexology aims to release tension and direct the free flow of energy throughout the body to bring about self-healing and normalize the functions of the body.
The Nerve Impulse Theory is similar, in as much, as nerve pathways throughout the body can become impinged causing problems. By stimulating the 7000 nerve endings in the feet, tension and pressure on the nerves is eased, improving the flow of blood and its oxygen-rich nutrients to all parts of the body.
Is Reflexology Safe?
Who can use it?
Julia: It is safe and can be used on everyone from babies to those receiving end of life care.
Are there any situations where, or people for whom, it is not appropriate?
Julia: If someone has a serious, unstable health condition, you would wait until their condition is stable. Also, you would not treat anyone who has an infectious condition such as flu.
Is it safe in pregnancy?
Julia: Yes, although it is not normally undertaken during the first trimester.
What is the difference between Reflexology and foot massage?
Julia: Reflexology is the application of pressure to specific reflex points on the feet using the therapist’s fingers and thumbs. General massaging techniques are often used to relax the feet before a treatment.
What Conditions Can Be Helped?
Julia: Anything! It can be used on its own or alongside another complementary therapy or traditional medicine. Some people and some conditions, respond to reflexology better than others.
What Does Treatment Involve?
Julia: A full medical history will be requested on your first treatment, and you will be asked to sign a consent form for treatment. You will be asked to remove your socks and shoes and lay down on a massage couch, although treatments can take place in a chair with your feet raised on a foot rest. The Reflexologist will work on one foot at a time.
What techniques does a Reflexologist use?
Julia: Use of various finger and thumb pressure techniques.
Is Reflexology painful?
Julia: It is not usually painful although some slight discomfort can sometimes be felt on areas where there is an imbalance in the body.
Are there any side effects from this form of therapy?
Julia: There are no side effects, although sometimes after the first treatment a healing reaction may occur which can take the form of a headache, nausea, cold like symptoms, lethargy, increased visits to the toilet, deep sleep or feeling more emotional than usual. These symptoms will pass within 12-24 hours.
What can I expect during a session?
Julia: You will probably feel very relaxed and may even feel like you fall asleep. Generally you are not asleep, just in a deeper state of consciousness. You may feel tingling sensations in your hands and arms.
How long is a session and how often should I have Reflexology?
Julia: A session usually lasts for an hour, although if treating a child or elderly person this is often reduced usually to half an hour. How often, depends on your personal circumstances, if you are looking to treat a particular condition then weekly sessions may be advisable for a few weeks. If you are looking to maintain your general well-being then monthly treatments are usual.
How many treatments are needed?
Julia: This depends on the condition you are treating, how long you have had it and the individual’s response. Generally more chronic conditions may need 6 treatments (one each week) followed by monthly treatments to maintain health. Having said that, sometimes one treatment is enough to get a really good response, I would then recommend monthly/6-weekly treatments to maintain good health.
Advice For Before and After A Treatment Session
What should I do before a treatment?
Julia: Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and take some time to relax if possible.
How can I maximize the benefits of the treatment session?
Julia: After a treatment drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and cigarettes for the rest of that day, avoid strenuous exercise and try to relax for the rest of that day and get a good night’s sleep – all of these things will aid the healing process.
What should clients expect after treatment?
Julia: You will probably feel very relaxed, chilled out and possibly tired. Sometimes after the first treatment a healing reaction may occur which can take the form of a headache, nausea, cold like symptoms, lethargy, increased visits to the toilet, deep sleep or feeling more emotional than usual. These symptoms will pass within 12-24 hours.
What results can be expected?
Julia: This depends totally on the individual – how well they react to treatment and/or how good their lifestyle is!. With certain conditions reflexology may need to used alongside some lifestyle changes such as a well-balanced diet, drinking more water, taking some exercise, taking steps to reduce/relieve stress or reducing/giving up smoking.
How To Find A Qualified Reflexologist
I asked Julia about how to find a qualified practitioner wherever you live in the World.
Julia said: Make contact with the main professional body in your Country. They will have a list of qualified therapists; usually this information is available on their website. In the UK this is the Association of Reflexologists which only allows membership to those who have gained certification at a high level of training and who are committed to continued professional development as well as agreeing to abide by their Code of Practice and Ethics.
Editors Note: I have provided a list of helpful links to help you find a Reflexologist in your Country just before the start of my interview with Julia
Reflexology May Be An Ancient Therapy!
How About You?
What are your thoughts on alternative therapies?
Why Not Try Reflexology for Yourself?
I will be continuing with my monthly sessions with Julia as I have found this to be about the right frequency for me and have definitely noticed a difference if I have missed a session for some reason.
Alternative, Complementary therapies including Reflexology are growing in popularity as people come to understand that mainstream Medicine does not have all the answers. While Reflexologists cannot legally claim to treat or cure any illness, there are so many testimonials like my own as to the benefits both physical and emotional that can be gained. If you have a health problem and are wondering whether Reflexology could benefit you, why not try it for yourself and see?