What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a non intrusive complementary health therapy that has the ability to stimulate the body’s own healing powers. It is a modern science and art which deals with the long-established principle that there are energy zones which run throughout the body and reflex areas in the hands and feet, that are associated with or connected to all the various systems, organs and glands of the body. It is the belief that the body is divided into ten vertical energy zones, and the correct application of therapy to a single zone will influence every part of the body within that zone. For more information on reflexology points click on the interactive AoR foot map.
Benefits of Reflexology
Potential benefits of reflexology are believed to include:
If you have been ill or injured, under stress, or if you are suffering from a chronic condition, your body will be in a state of imbalance; vital energy pathways will be blocked and, in short, your body will be unable to function efficiently. Reflexology can be used to restore and maintain the body’s natural equilibrium and encourage healing. In fact, research suggests reflexology is what it affirms to be, and is 'a treatment that seeks to enhance and harmonise the mind, body, and spirit' (McCullough, et al., 2014).
Reflexology and Long COVID
Medically, ‘long COVID’ is identified as various symptoms which affect multiple systems in the body. According to the NHS England (2021) the most commonly reported symptoms, apart from the generalised symptoms of fatigue, fever, and pain, are as follows:
Respiratory and cardiovascular: breathlessness / cough / chest tightness / chest pain / palpitations
Neurological: cognitive impairment / headache / sleep disturbance / pins and needles or numbness / dizziness / delirium (in older individuals)
Gastrointestinal: abdominal pain / nausea / diarrhoea / anorexia or reduced appetite / weight loss
Musculoskeletal: joint and/or muscle pain
Psychological / psychiatric: symptoms of depression / symptoms of anxiety
Ear, nose and throat: tinnitus / earache / sore throat / loss of taste and/or smell
Dermatological: skin rashes
Evidently, these are not just physical symptoms associated with respiratory illness, but also emotional and psychological issues which can additionally affect the rate and speed of recovery from COVID per se.
Reflexology can play a part in supporting individuals throughout their rehabilitation.
Hot Stone Reflexology
Hot stones can be incorporated into a reflexology treatment to further enhance the benefits of the treatment. It is estimated that one stroke of a hot stone is worth five strokes with the hand. It is also believed to yield five times deeper and five times longer lasting effects compared to a 'normal' reflexology session. The heat helps to relax the muscles in the feet allowing the therapist to work deeper into the reflex areas.
The stones are composed of basalt, a volcanic rock, which due to its high density retains heat well. Stones are firstly used to massage the lower legs (below the knees) relieving any tension in the calf muscles and helping to enhance energy flow. Smaller stones are then used to work the reflex areas and points of the feet. The heat from the stones quickly opens the reflex pathways bringing about a much deeper level of relaxation than reflexology alone.
What happens during a treatment?
A reflexology treatment is carried out on bare feet, while you relax on a healing couch or reclining chair. A typical treatment lasts for approximately 45mins and most people find the treatment pleasant and soothing. Occasionally some areas of the feet may feel tender, this just indicates an imbalance in a corresponding part of the body, and will ease as the session progresses.
After treatment you may experience a feeling of deep relaxation and tranquility, therefore it is good to engage in some peaceful activity immediately afterwards to maintain this feeling of wellbeing. It is important after a reflexology treatment to drink plenty of water to assist in flushing toxins from the body, and to avoid alcohol.
Very Occasionally, after any holistic therapy, you may experience a 'healing crisis'. This usually indicates that your body is going through a 'cleansing' process. It may also indicate that more treatments may be necessary. Symptoms you may experience are headache, nausea, cold or flu like symptoms, bowel changes, feeling emotional and fatigued. These symptoms should normally resolve within a few days. During this time you can support your body by drinking lots of water, eating healthily, and gently exercising. If you have concerns or questions about anything you are experiencing following any of the aforementioned holistic therapies, please feel assured that you can contact me.
McCullough, J. E. M., Liddle, S. D., Sinclair, M., Close, C., and Hughes, C. M. (2014) ‘The Physiological and Biochemical Outcomes Associated with a Reflexology Treatment: A Systematic Review’, Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, United States, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Vol. 2014, pp. 1–16. [Online] Available at: doi: 10.1155/2014/502123.
NHS England (2021) 'Your COVID Recovery'. [Online] Available at: https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/what-is-covid-19/long-covid/