Monday, September 24, 2018

Put Your Best Feet Forward

September 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

When feeling tension in mind and body, you may rub your temples and knead your shoulders. That’s natural, but have you ever considered massaging your ears, hands, and feet? Unless you’re familiar with reflexology, you’re likely unaware of how attention to these areas may be just what’s needed to reduce stress and restore balance.

“Reflexology is an ancient form of complementary therapy that encourages harmony of the body, mind and spirit, based on the theory that every part of the body has a corresponding area, or reflex point, on the soles of the feet,” explains Joanne Silver, a reflexologist based in New York City.  “By applying gentle pressure to these reflex areas, the whole body is encouraged to relax and return to a state of homeostasis.”

Homeostasis — the body’s stability and ability to function well — comes about by activating and energizing ailing or poorly performing organs and systems of the body. Reflexologists address the areas on the feet that link up to those organs and systems and apply pressure in prescribed ways (some focus on hands and ears as well). While this treatment is receiving greater attention as people seek holistic ways to alleviate the corrosive effects of stress, the practice can be traced to early China, Egypt, and Native Americans. The term “reflexology” was coined over 100 years ago.

Silver, who is also a reiki practitioner and yoga teacher, elaborates. “Many of us live in a constant state of ‘fight or flight.’ Reflexology helps induce the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing anxiety and slowing the heart rate. A reflexology session is an excellent way to reduce tension, promote healing, restore balance and encourage relaxation throughout the entire body.”

Stress-related ailments are not the only ones that respond to reflexology. “Reflexology can be used to support people with many different ailments,” says Silver. “Studies by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health found that reflexology may reduce pain, shortness of breath, and psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and enhance relaxation and sleep. Studies also show that reflexology may have benefits in the palliative care of people with cancer.”

You don’t dive feet first into reflexology. You start with an overall discussion of your health, level of stress, and the primary reason you’re seeking treatment. Silver, who has been practicing reflexology since 2000, says that after the intake, “the reflexologist will use a small amount of lotion on your feet and start with relaxation techniques designed to help you relax both physically and mentally. Gentle pressure will be applied to each of the reflex points on your feet, working on one foot at a time. Some clients drift off to sleep during the session while others choose to remain more alert.”

“While reflexology is not a cure for a particular illness,” Silver cautions, “some people feel relief from an ailment after one session.”

Most people seeking relief through reflexology benefit from multiple sessions — weekly, monthly, or as-needed (Silver has been seeing someone for more than a decade). A typical reflexology session lasts for one hour though she reduces the time for children (her youngest client is five) and elderly persons. Silver views reflexology as a safe practice at any age and stage of life, but advises “anyone with a cut or open wound on his or her feet should refrain from reflexology until the wound has healed.”

Those not seeking support for a specific illness or the effects of elevated stress can also benefit from adding reflexology to their general wellness regime. As Silver declares, reflexology is for every person who would “simply like to switch off and relax.”

For more information: find other qualified reflexologists, visit the American Reflexology Certification Board site:

By Lita Smith-Mines

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