Reflexology 101 - Positive Health Benefits
In modern day society, many people choose to undergo whatever their doctors tell them will be the best for their health. Alternatively, however, there are many different forms of therapy that can offer results but are less widely known than types of Western medicine. In this article we help you learn more about Reflexology so that you can find out whether or not this special type of alternative therapy can be useful in helping you get over the problems that you are having with your health.
First, we'll go over some of the basics to give you a better idea of what Reflexology is. It is sometimes referred to as zone therapy, and more often than not, it is used as a type of complementary therapy to conventional medical treatments. It is very different from other forms of therapy, as it focuses upon the manipulation of the nerves that are found in the feet, hands and ears in order to help other parts of the body. The Reflexologist generally uses their thumbs and fingers to manipulate specific 'zones' located on the feet, hands and ears in order to address a specific problem. Different zones of the feet, hands, and ears are know to correspond to helping specific different parts of the body, and many Reflexologists keep charts that help to illustrate exactly which parts of the feet that they should focus on in order to treat a specific problem.
There are numerous positive health effects that individuals report after they receive Reflexology treatment. Amongst the many benefits include a decreased level of stress, as well as a higher level of energy, increased circulation, and a boosted immune system. Research has been carried out that proves that Reflexology can also be helpful when it comes to eliminating or lessening the symptoms of PMS, as well as helping to assist with lessening the pain that headaches can cause. Those who suffer from cancer pain and victims of multiple sclerosis also find relief from receiving treatment from a Reflexologist.
There is no real scientific consensus on why Reflexology is so helpful in benefiting the health of different parts of the body. Some contend that the practice works by helping to correct energy levels throughout the body. Others believe that the manipulation of the nerves in the feet helps to break up stress patterns that may be present in other parts of the body since there are around seven thousands nerves in the feet alone. Still others claim that Reflexology techniques help the body to release neurotransmitters in order to help the individual feel better. Although there are many hypotheses, science is still working at being able to accurately explain how Reflexology works.
Remember that Reflexology is often used as a complementary therapy, meaning that you should not cast aside Western medicine, and instead use Reflexology as a additional treatment to the care that you are already receiving.
Universal College of Reflexology, Lauren Slade 2011
What Are the Effects of Reflexology ?
Patricia A. Urban, CMR, LMT
In my practice, I have seen people with long standing conditions regain some quality of an improved life styles. I seek to balance the body as a whole.
Various medical centers promote reflexology to be beneficial for the following conditions:
- The California Pacific Medical Center: Reflexology reduces stress, balances energy flow in the body and mind and supports the immune system. Though given on the hands and feet this extraordinary technique effects the entire body.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Cancer Center: A reflexology treatment is deeply relaxing and helps to reduce stress, relieve pain, increase circulation, and enhance well-being.
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Though empirical studies are lacking, many patients have benefited from reflexology. Conditions treated may include: migraine headaches, hypertension, menstrual cramps or irregularities, myofascial pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia and anxiety disorders.
- Citizens Medical Center Healthplex: Reflexology relieves stress, improves circulation and promotes relaxation. May help relieve headaches, arthritis, back aches, allergy and sinus problems.
- The Heart Center at St. Rita's Medical Center: Reflexology helps speed recovery and reduce discomfort after surgery. Reflexology therapy strengthens and supports the body's own healing process. St Rita's conducted a three month pilot study on open-heart patients who received reflexology and the study confirmed a patient's level of pain and anxiety decreased significantly. It also helped patients increase the distance they were able to walk, decreased the number of days they were hospitalized and the amount of medication administered during their recovery process. (See testimonial from one of my clients regarding pre and post surgery)
- Beebe Medical Center: Reflexology may help relieve stress, improve circulation, relieve stiffness and reduce pain. Reflexology can also help relieve symptoms from PMS, osteoarthritis and reheumatiod arthritis.
- The DeKalb Medical Center: Reflexology promotes stress reduction, circulation, balance, vitality and normal body functioning, as well as enhancing relaxation.
Pre and Post Operative Reflexology Side Effects
Patricia A. Urban, CMR, LMT and Michelle Becz, CMR
Most times, we have an opportunity to ready our bodies for surgery and the recovery process to follow. We may consider improving our eating habits, adding supplements to our diets, increasing exercise to strength the body and reducing stress. Another r consideration may be incorporating weekly reflexolgoy sessions into your pre-operative and post operative plan. Clinical studies have shown regular reflexology sessions post operatively can be of great benefit in resorting the immune system thereby aiding in pain reduction and more effective healing.
Over my time in practicing reflexology, I have worked with clients six to ten weeks prior to surgery. Reflexology sessions were designed to meet the needs of the individual client and were done consistently in preparation for the surgery scheduled. It was commitment on the part of the client but the great thing is it yielded results. Clients reported that they used little to no pain medication after surgery and the surgeons themselves expressed amazement at the rate of the healing process.
Why the result? Well, the true aim of reflexology for the body is homeostasis; a state of well-being and balance maintained despite changes in the external environment. As Reflexoligsts, I always approach my sessions with the intention of offering the body the opportunity to regain balance by reducing tension and improving circulation to the glands, organs and various body parts. The wonderful thing is that in doing reflexology on an individual's feet, the balance that their body regains from this therapy has some positive "side effects". Pre-operatively, reflexology boosts the immune system by improving the lymphatic system's functioning, the circulation and necessary time in "relaxation" where the body can be at optimal performance. Post operatively reflexology helps keep blood flowing, aides the body in toxin removal, provides relaxation to aid in healing and has a wonderful effect on pain levels. Facing surgery can be intimidating life event and reflexology can help.
Living with Fibromyalgia Relief through Reflexology
Patricia A. Urban, CMR, LMT
A few years ago, a petite soft spoken woman came into my office. Her doctor had suggested she try reflexology to help manage symptoms of fibromyalgia. Her visit encouraged me to research what fibromyalgia was, its symptoms and what I, as a reflexologist, could do to help relieve her pain. To my astonishment I found that more than 6 million people dealing with this disease.
What is fibromyalgia?
According to the NFA (The National Fibromyalgia Association) fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic widespread types of pain. Individuals often experience:
- Chronic widespread body pain in the neck, shoulders, back, arms and legs
- Deep tenderness, soreness and flu-like aching
- Poor sleep, stiffness and fatigue
- Dull pain in muscles, tendons and ligaments
What are the symptoms?
The NFA tells us fibromyalgia is characterized by the presence of multiple tender points and a collection of symptoms such as:
- Sleep problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Impaired memory and concentration
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a form of natural healing which has been practiced for centuries. We believe the entire body is mirrored on the feet through a system of reflex points. By stimulating specific reflex points on the feet, congestion and tension are released and the body’s natural tendency towards balance is restored. This moves the body into a state where its natural healing abilities can work at optimal levels.
What are the benefits of reflexology?
- Stress relief
- Pain Reduction
- Cleansing of toxins
- Revitalized energy
- Improved circulation
- Relief from headaches and migraine
The soft spoken petite woman, I started working with in August of 2007 is doing well.
Chronic Pain is there Healing Power in Your Feet?
By Patricia A. Urban, CMR, LMT
Pain, like stress is a healthy component to our existence as it serves the vital function of triggering avoidance. It is a simple reflex action, for example, you put your hand under a facet, the water is very hot, and it hurts and quickly pulls your hand away. Pain is sensory, physical and emotional. Imagine living a life of pain which is often associated with an overlapping illness?
Constant pain can create a never ending cycle of destruction. You are uncomfortable, therefore, you do not sleep, you battle fatigue all day which affects your appetite, your mood, your relationships with family and friends, your ability to concentrate, to be productive, and list goes on. The physical and mental challenges can be overwhelming.
Many clients I have worked with have chosen to incorporate a multidisciplinary approach to cope with their chronic pain. Medications help deal with the specific symptoms, exercise and diet fuel their bodies, a positive attitude reinforces their mental well being and Reflexology helps to manage pain. My clients have reported less fatigue, improved sleep patterns, increased productivity, reduced pain and stiffness, more mental clarity, less and anxiety and, in general, uplifted spirits.
The results from Reflexology do not occur in one session, but over a period of time. Chronic pain is individualized’ therefore, each session is customized to meet your specific needs and concerns. Your feet are the basic assessment tool, and the communicator of the rest of your body. By applying pressure to specific areas of the foot, I can break up stress patterns in parts of the body inducing a state of deep relaxation. With over 7,000 nerve receptors in each foot, simulation and therapeutic movement activates responses throughout the nervous system. The results have wide effects on the body such as improved circulation, enhanced lymphatic movement and increased serotonin levels which reduces the chemical messenger of pain.
In my practice, I see people with long standing conditions regain an improved quality of life and mental well being. Reflexology is not a cure, but, a form of natural healing which has been practiced for centuries. This therapy can be traced back to the Chinese, the ancient Indians and the Egyptians. There is scientific research that backs this therapy based on the premise there are zones and reflex points in the feet which correspond to the entire body. The important function of Reflexology is to activate and harmonize your body’s own life forces and healing powers.
It is all about the spine
Patricia A. Urban, CMR, LMT
The spine is one of the most important parts of your body. It gives your body structure and support. The spine consists of 33 vertebrae which are divided into 5 sections from top to bottom: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, coccygeal and sacral. The vertebrae are connected by discs of cartilage and are held in place by ligaments. The ligaments connect bones to bones and tendons connect muscles to bone.
Within the spinal cord are 30 pairs of peripheral nerves emanating from the spinal cord: 7 cervical nerves, 12 thoracic nerves, 5 lumbar nerves, 5 sacral nerves and 1 coccygeal nerve. This system is called the peripheral nervous system (PNS). It connects the cranial and spine nerves, known as the Central Nervous System (CNS) to every organ, gland as well as all other parts of the body. Together the CNS and PNS provide sensory, integrative and motor functions of the body. Each vertebrae corresponds to a specific part of the body. For illustration purposes, let us explore the wonders of our cervical spine:
Reflexologists agree that the central nervous system and the brain are the most important reflexes to work in a reflexology session. Nerve impulses arising from the spine serve all organs functions, and parts of the human body, so as your reflexologist’s works on the spinal area you are receiving vital simulation to your whole body. The application of reflexology can influence the regulation of the body’s systems to maintain balance. When dealing with a specific condition, your reflexologist can concentrate extensively on whichever part of the spinal area support your ailment. Specific ailments addressed in the cervical spine area may include: Alzheimer’s disease, Bell’s palsy, Headache, Insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. The application of reflexology can influence the regulation of the body’s systems to maintain balance.
Allergy Relief Through Reflexology
Patricia A. Urban, CMR, LMT and Michelle Becz, CMR
While many of us welcome the arrival of new season, those with seasonal allergies (me included) area little less eager to see that the season is upon us. Seasonal allergies, formally called “season allergic rhinitis” affect sufferers with a variety of unpleasant symptoms (i.e running nose, itching eyes, and post nasal drip). These complaints can lead to more severe problems such as asthma or sinusitis. In a study at the University of Ohio it was found allergies were substantially worsened by stress and anxiety and that the effect of the stress/anxiety actually lingered causing the next day of symptoms to be even more severe.
This brings about an interesting correlation with Reflexology and why it has been found to relieve allergies in clinical studies as well as in testimonial case studies. Since reducing stress can be effective in reducing the severity of allergies, and since Reflexology reduces stress, it is logical to conclude that Reflexology can be an effective tool in reducing the severity of allergies as well!
Two of my favorite “De-Stress” reflex points in your hands are the adrenal gland and solar plexus. I would suggest working both reflex points several times throughout the day. Hold each point for about a minute. You may notice the first time you approach the reflex points they will be tender to touch. Work through the discomfort! If you have week thumbs you may want to use a golf ball to stimulate the reflex point.