Ancient practice alleviates pain and brings relaxation

Foot-Massage_ThinkstockPhotos-135549754Reflexology is a form of alternative medicine in which the practitioner applies pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands or ears, in order to improve general health and wellbeing.

Reflexologists believe that certain zones correspond to different organs and providing pressure to these areas has a positive effect on the organs and ultimately, overall health.

Although reflexology is not used to diagnose or cure health disorders, it is widely used to complement traditional medicine and treatments.

Josephine Jolly, a volunteer reflexologist at Footprints Day Centre at St John of God Murdoch Hospice, says the practice can provide pain management but is also particularly beneficial to those who are experiencing great stress in their lives.

“In many cases, reflexology has the power to affect a broad range of concerns from digestive issues to headaches, and to give relief to those suffering from constant pain,” Ms Jolly says.

“Patients find not only does pain in their feet, legs and other parts of the body diminish after sessions, but their anxiety levels are also lower.”

“Reflexology helps the whole body to relax so for the terminally ill, and the family members who help care for them, reflexology can offer a break from the unrelenting stress.”

Some people say they go into a deep relaxation or a stage between wakefulness and sleep where they can still hear what is going on but are almost asleep. Some sleep and some drift in and out of sleep.

The origins of reflexology date back to ancient Egypt by tomb inscriptions found in 2330 BC. In 1917, Dr William H. Fitzgerald pioneered the discovery that the application of pressure on particular areas of the feet could affect different
parts of the body.

There are different styles of reflexology, including the most commonly used Ingham method in which the thumb (or finger) bends and straightens while maintaining constant pressure across the area of the foot. The focus is on relaxation and
balancing the systems of the body, unlike other methods, such as Rwo Shur, in which the pressure is firmer to stimulate, rather than relax.

Sonia Bailey, President of Reflexology Association of Australia (RAoA), says the RAoA does not consider reflexology a luxury, but an important part of rehabilitation after injury, illness or surgery and a valued support for people while
undertaking medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

“The RAoA views reflexology as an important part of an individual’s choice on how to best maintain personal health,” Ms Bailey says.

“There is ample research data to confirm a variety of benefits.”

And to those who are skeptical, Ms Jolly says people should just try it and see for themselves.

“You don’t have to believe in it for it to work, as long as you are open to the idea of it and just have a willingness to try.”

“In my experience, the reactions are always positive.”

Reflexologists state that reflexology can provide benefits such as:

  • Reducing stress
  • Balancing the nervous system
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Boosting lymphatic function
  • Improving circulation
  • Detoxifying the body
  • Enhancing the body’s natural healing process

Please consult your GP before having reflexology and people with deep vein thrombosis, acute infection, stroke or are experiencing unstable pregnancy are advised not to have reflexology.

Please visit www.reflexology.org.au for a list of registered practitioners in Australia and other useful information about reflexology.

“Reflexology gives me an hour of relaxation and helps me feel more rational from an emotional point of view. I am then in a better frame of mind to care for my dad. I also find that I feel able to safely express some of the issues that cause me
stress, knowing that these will be kept confidential.” Kay, carer

“I find reflexology so relaxing but have found it has also helped with some foot pain that I had – after two sessions it was gone. Overall, my anxiety levels are lower and to be given permission to relax is awesome. The setting is also so
relaxing.” Carol, outpatient

“Reflexology helps my whole body to relax but also gives me relief from the nerve pain in my feet for a couple of days. I know it doesn’t make the pain go totally but it is so good to get some relief. I miss it when I don’t get to my session.” Maria, inpatient

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