Reflexology is becoming an increasingly popular route to maintaining natural health and well-being. It is also now widely recognised as an effective complementary therapy by the medical profession and is available in many hospitals and G.P. surgeries. Unfortunately, reflexology still has many sceptics and there are a number of widely-held, mistaken beliefs out there. Hopefully my blog will go towards dispelling these reflexology myths.
1. Reflexology is just a foot massage
There is certainly an element of massage during a reflexology treatment. I mainly introduce this in the closing minutes but will also include soothing elements as I move around the reflexes. It is a relaxing experience but a trained Clinical Reflexologist is not performing a foot massage. By applying pressure and stimulation to precise reflex points corresponding to organs and systems of the body, this can promote natural healing and recovery. Reflexology helps to maintain a state of homeostasis in the body.
2. Reflexology is just a fad
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Reflexology has been around for centuries with the earliest ‘evidence’ depicted on an Egyptian tomb dating from 2500 BCE. It has been documented in many ancient civilisations but the modern therapy that we practice today was pioneered by Eunice Ingham in the 1930s. Reflexology has increased in popularity in recent years as people look for more natural ways to maintain their health and well-being.
3. There is no scientific proof that reflexology works
There have been research studies worldwide that have highlighted the benefits of reflexology. It cannot be denied that it is effective in enhancing relaxation and reducing psychological symptoms resulting from stress, anxiety and depression. There have also been studies that have demonstrated positive results in the use of reflexology for pain reduction. Of course, more clinical research is still needed to support the strong anecdotal evidence from people who have benefitted from reflexology. I have collected a number of research articles which can be viewed by clicking HERE.
4. Reflexology hurts
A firm pressure is used under most circumstances, to gain optimum benefits. However, this should not be painful for the client. By maintaining good communication with my client and being sensitive and responsive, this should prevent any discomfort. Reflexes that present as out of balance may be felt as tender and I would alter my pressure or change the technique to ensure rebalancing of the reflex and comfort for the client. For many clients it is imperative to use a lighter, gentler pressure which is why it is important to take a medical history during the initial consultation, to fully understand their individual needs.
5. A Reflexologist can diagnose illnesses and treat diseases
A professional Reflexologist should never attempt to diagnose, prescribe or claim to replace conventional medicine (unless appropriately medically qualified). Reflexology should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice. If I became concerned for a client I would advise that they visit their G.P. Reflexology is a complementary therapy and is used alongside conventional medicine. During a treatment, I may pick up on reflexes that feel unusual and these will often mirror my client’s health concerns. However, reflexology is a holistic therapy, meaning we treat the person and not their condition, as there can be so many interconnected factors that can result in health issues. Reflexology stimulates the body’s own healing processes thus promoting natural recovery.
6. Reflexology can be harmful to people suffering from cancer
I work as a volunteer therapist at a local cancer help centre. I see first-hand how reflexology has huge benefits for those undergoing cancer treatment, recovering or living with a terminal diagnosis. Reflexology provides the comfort of touch and physical relaxation, going some way to alleviate the anxiety and trauma experienced by those living with cancer. Specialist cancer centres, such as the Christie Hospital in Manchester, actively promote and provide complementary therapy services such as reflexology. It is advisable to choose a Reflexologist who is specially trained in ‘Adaptive Reflexology for Cancer and Palliative Care’.
7. Reflexology is only performed on the feet
No. There are reflex points that map the entire body, on the hands and even the ears! Some practitioners also perform facial reflexology. If a client displayed a problem with their feet, I would carry out the treatment on their hands. Sometimes a client may benefit more from auricular (ear) reflexology or by working synergistically on feet, hands and ears. It all depends on the client’s individual needs and preference.
8. Reflexology is not safe for pregnant women
Reflexology can be wonderful in pregnancy and the aim is to bring balance and harmony to both mum and baby. There are some concerns as to whether it is advisable to treat during the first trimester and this should be discussed between client and Reflexologist. To avoid doubt, I personally invite mums-to-be to resume reflexology sessions once their pregnancy is established. It is a fascinating fact that the growing baby is visible on the feet!
9. Reflexology is not suitable for babies and children
Reflexology for babies is different from adults as the sessions are much shorter and the techniques are very gentle. Some Reflexologists are specially trained in baby reflexology and run classes where parents are taught adapted techniques to help ease and relieve many of the normal baby discomforts. Children can also benefit from reflexology in the same way as adults. However, the sessions may be best done informally as it can be difficult to keep young children in one place!
10. You can’t have reflexology if you are ticklish
This is something I hear all the time. Many people who would like reflexology think that they can’t have it because their feet are sensitive. I myself have very ticklish feet so I know that there is nothing to worry about. The pressure and techniques that I apply are firm and definitely not tickly! For clients that are unsure, I offer short taster sessions so they can feel what reflexology is like without committing to a full consultation. For clients who really have a phobia about someone touching their feet, then I would perform hand or auricular reflexology in this instance.