"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go." Dr. Seuss
Reflexology is the application of pressure to areas on the feet, hands and ears. Reflexology is generally relaxing and may be an effective way to alleviate stress. The theory behind reflexology is that these areas correspond to organs and systems of the body. Pressure applied to these areas affects the organs and benefits the person's health. Reflexologists use foot charts to guide them as they apply pressure to specific areas. Sometimes these practitioners use items, such as rubber balls, rubber bands and sticks of wood, to assist in their work. Practitioners of reflexology include chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists, among others. Several studies funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health indicate that reflexology may reduce pain and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and enhance relaxation and sleep. Studies also show that reflexology may have benefits in palliative care of people with cancer.
Everyone can learn how to do reflexology and read a reflexology chart, it is a universal therapeutic touch therapy, similar to massage. Here are some guidelines before you begin:
When doing reflexology always do the whole treatment - all of both feet or hands Try to avoid doing bits and pieces for specific organs or symptoms. This is the same for doing reflexology on the hand, face and ears. Even when doing reflexology with a specific relief in mind it is so important to do the entire area.
People that are ill have lower pain tolerances and can be very sensitive to touch. When you are learning how to do reflexology, ask frequently if the pressure you are using is ok and if they have been in bed for more than 24 to 48 hours don't do reflexology at all.
Creams and Oils are only used in reflexology for massage relaxation techniques. They make it too slippery to use techniques properly. Oils are great for doing relaxation exercises on hands at the end of a treatment as a massage, or at the end of a foot reflexology session.
Talcum/ baby powder is best for doing reflexology on the feet and hands. Sprinkle all over the feet and hands to absorb body oil (stop your hands from getting slippery and to make it easier to move your fingers and thumbs over the body. It is hard to comfortably thumb walk (reflexology technique) for a complete foot reflexology session without talcum powder or something similar.
When learning how to do reflexology, its best to start on the foot because it provides the quickest results. Ear and face reflexology are great to give to someone that is stressed, that can't sleep.
Reflexology sessions last about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the hands or feet. It is recommended that for ill people, the elderly or very young, that reflexology sessions go for no longer than 30 minutes.
Some people have a physical response to reflexology, during or after a session. Physical responses include burps, coughs, unintentional farts, small unexpected spasms, and can happen anytime during the treatment. Crying, an increase or decrease in energy, feeling extremely tired, flu-like symptoms or exhaustion can occur up to 24 hours following reflexology treatment; (this is even more only likely if the person does not drink enough water or its their first reflexology session). These reactions are short term and should be accommodated by drinking large amounts of water. The body reacts like this because it is now working harder to create balance within its systems and to get rid of waste. Plenty of water and the person will be back to normal within 24 hours.
It is always recommended that diabetics check their blood sugar before and after a session. Blood sugar levels can severely rise or drop during reflexology.
When giving or receiving reflexology make sure both people are sitting or lying down comfortably. The person receiving reflexology should be relaxed and sitting on on a comfortable seat or lying on a soft bed. The person doing reflexology should be comfortable also. Never do reflexology bending over, or at an awkward angle and make sure there is no pressure on your knees.
You can use the relaxation or massage techniques anytime during reflexology You might use it to break up the treatment.
There are different techniques for doing reflexology on different parts of the body.
Thumb walking is great for the feet as the reflexes on the foot are close to the surface
The reflexes in the hands are deeper so firm pressure applied with the index finger in a circular motion is more effective
Massage techniques are great for relaxation during a session too