WELLNESS

The Healing Power of Reflexology

If you’re considering booking a reflexology treatment, you might have a lot of questions. What exactly is reflexology? What are the benefits? If you suffer from headaches, skin irritations, sleeplessness, anxiety or stress – you may find this information useful as an added treatment to your solution.
Our founder, Nicole Sherwin interviewed Anna Newell, therapeutic reflexologist to find out more.
NS: Tell us a little about yourself and what sparked your interest to study reflexology?
AN: I have been interested in the human body most of my life, as a young girl I wanted to be a Reconstructive Surgeon, fascinated by the notion of putting together that which was broken. I participated in sport all of my life and for the most part, kept my love all things “movement” going. Life happened, things change and I ended up in a creative field of study but continued to enjoy my exercise pursuits. In my early 40’s life handed me an opportunity to finally pursue studies in Wellness and I completed my Personal Training and Pilates Certification. I taught mostly private rehabilitation clients for a little over ten years. During this season I continued research in all healing modalities as I tried to find answers for my clients. After a difficult season of personal injury, I decided to further my studies completing the Diploma in Therapeutic Reflexology and Meridian Therapy in 2013. As a Pilates instructor I had seen over and over the vital importance of the feet in terms of posture and the outer physical wellbeing, Reflexology was a “closing of a circle” in that respect, reaching to the internal organs through the feet.
NS: What is reflexology and how does it work?
AN: Therapeutic Reflexology is a non-invasive, highly effective health practice without contraindication, making it a safe, accessible, and effective health enhancement for a multitude of health issues. It is a scientific practice based on the premise that there are reflexes in the feet that connect to all the organs, organ systems and glands in the body through a network of nerves that make up our nervous system, the physical image of the body being mapped or mirrored onto the feet and other parts of the body in a logical anatomical pattern. 
How does it work? Through the application of specific pressure, using thumb, finger, and hand techniques an impulse is conveyed through touch to the receptors of our sensitive nervous system (there are over 7,000 nerves in the feet), initiating in the body physiological changes that restore balance and therefore health.
NS:Can you offer any tips on which reflexology points to work for better sleep?
AN: Therapeutic Reflexology treatment is different to the acupressure “point” treatment; acupressure makes use of mapped acupressure points along the Meridian Channels of the body. Reflexology on the other hand treats the organs, organ systems, and glands of the whole body. As 6 of the major Meridian Channels start and end in the feet, many of these acupressure points are consciously and specifically treated in a comprehensive Therapeutic Reflexology treatment.
To answer the “better sleep” question we need to ask some questions about the client’s sleep. Insomnia is one of the most challenging issues to treat due to its complexities. Reflexology however addresses both the physiological issues like hormonal changes and nervous system disruptions as well as the emotional issues like anxiety, grief, worry. In short regular Reflexology treatment may assist in restoring balance to the client (endocrinal, nervous system, and emotional health) which will result in improved sleep patterns.

NS:What would you recommend to combat tension headaches or migraines? 

AN: As part of a thorough and regular Reflexology treatment, I would include focused treatment of the detoxification systems and also the areas where tension settles in the body, namely the gut, neck, shoulders, and our breathing mechanisms. Headaches can be relieved through addressing various dietary habits, and although they may be brought on my tension as an example, they could be exacerbated by diet. So this as well as lifestyle issues including posture would be addressed alongside Reflexology treatment.

NS: How can reflexology assist with balancing skin irritations?

AN: There is an interesting connection between our gut, lungs, and our skin. If one reads up on Traditional Chinese Medicine, specifically the Five Element Theory we see that through treating the gut and lungs (organs that transform food and air in the body) we can have a positive effect on the health and appearance of the skin.

NS: Can reflexology help thyroid and other autoimmune issues?

AN: The simple answer is yes, as regular treatment will bring balance and health to all the systems of the body. As treatment progresses each system and its’s organs undergo a “clean-up and tune-up”, and as one system heals its health will have a healing effect on the whole body. We are a sum of our parts, everything is connected, all systems depend on each other to function well. This is the strength of Reflexology treatment, the correct application of the treatment will help the body to heal itself.

NS: What are your thoughts on gut health & reflexology?

AN: Reflexology works well in treating many chronic issues, and chief among these is probably gut health. Many clients struggle with weakened gut health which will have a negative effect on their health in general. Regular Reflexology treatment will help restore gut function and through the consultative process diet and possible emotional causes can be addressed as well.

NS: Are there reflexology points to stimulate the immune system?

AN: This is a tricky question as it is difficult to define the immune system in terms of treatment. Again, the complete healing approach would bring about the balance that is required for the body’s immune system to function as it should. A major part of initial treatment centers on what we call the “healing crises”. This would be experienced by the client as a type of detox, a worsening of symptoms, and then a return to health. This “clearing out” helps the immune system to work optimally as it no longer “bogged down” with day-to-day cleaning up.

NS: What are your recommendations for self reflexology at home?

AN: During the initial lockdown, I put together a self-treatment protocol for home use. The most important aspect is that Reflexology is not massage, so the technique is different.

ED: Try and find a reflexology chart online so you can understand the reflexology points that relate to various organs in the body and then gently put pressure on those points with your own fingers or knuckles. If it feels painful or uncomfortable that usually means it needs your attention and a bit of work. You could also find Youtube tutorials for self reflexology. But it’s definitely best to have a qualified reflexologist work on you for maximum benefit and results.

NS: What is the most profound & life-changing case history you’ve experienced through reflexology?

AN: Oh gosh, there are many but perhaps I can mention two. I treated a 9-year-old boy diagnosed with ADHD, he was in a special needs class at school and was a real challenge to his teachers and his family. I had been treating his mom and she asked if I could help her boy. We started treatment and as expected the first few treatments resulted in a mild intensification of his symptoms, but after the fourth treatment his father told me how much he had settled down, in fact, the treatment left him “calmer for the entire weekend”. He started having guitar lessons and was able to sit through the hour-long lesson. The treatment changed his family life and gave him confidence, his demeanor changed, he visibly brightened. We were able to increase the treatment time which in turn had a deepening effect for him.

The second instance was a female client, a medical doctor, who had had disabling neural/tingling under her foot for months. She had sought treatment with various practitioners but no treatment had been successful. After a single Reflexology treatment, the tingling was gone. As a therapist treating a medical person, it was quite profound, as her experience was uniquely medical, her response utterly truthful and her confidence in Reflexology as a treatment modality an absolute.

(NS)What’s next for you post Covid-19?

(AN) I’m hoping with all my heart there will be a “post-COVID”, At the moment and for a long while to come I think we’ll have to live with the new norms. I have learned that what I do, the treatment, cannot be replaced, it requires a pair of hands and a willing heart in the therapist. Reflexology is a healing practice based in science but is also an art in its application. I have learned that we can support our clients through Newsletters and calls, but fundamentally there isn’t a replacement for the hands-on treatment. So perhaps finding a way to work “personally” without risk and adequate protection for both therapist and client is the way forward.

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