Re­flex­ol­ogy – no mean feet

Get foot­loose, kick off your shoes and get on the zone, writes Mar­got Ber­tels­mann

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

THERE IS NO bet­ter way to get on the zone than to do re­flex­ol­ogy!

WHAT IS RE­FLEX­OL­OGY?

Re­flex­ol­ogy is an al­ter­na­tive health ther­apy, of­ten mis­taken with a mas­sage, but it is holis­tic and helps keep the body in bal­ance, thus help­ing ac­ti­vate the body’s nat­u­ral abil­i­ties to heal it­self. The prac­tice of re­flex­ol­ogy di­vides the body into re­flex zones, which cor­re­spond to or­gans and zones of the body, in this way treat­ing the en­tire body.

You may ask your­self how these maps of the body were dis­cov­ered, and how one can prove they ex­ist. A prob­lem for re­flex­ol­ogy is that there is dis­agree­ment on which body map of the foot is cor­rect. The sci­en­tific method of com­ing to con­clu­sions in­volves ob­ser­va­tion, and then test­ing of the data.

To date, no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence has been found to prove that re­flex­ol­ogy works to cure ail­ments or dis­eases – bar­ring some ev­i­dence that foot mas­sage can re­duce blood pres­sure.

Touch has how­ever been found to re­lease the feel- good hor­mones dopamine and sero­tonin, and lower the lev­els of cor­ti­sol and adren­a­line in our bod­ies.

Re­flex­ol­o­gists an­swer that their ther­apy is aimed at pre­vent­ing, not cur­ing, disease as part of a holis­tic health plan.

RE­FLEX­OL­OGY AND BABY

For par­ents, re­flex­ol­ogy is a won­der­ful tool to pro­mote well­ness, re­lax­ation and bond­ing be­tween par­ent and child.

It is gen­er­ally re­garded as very safe for in­fants, and feels won­der­ful, so there is no harm in try­ing it out on your baby, no mat­ter how scep­ti­cal you may be.

Re­flex­ol­o­gist Melanie Martins says re­flex­ol­ogy is pres­sure point ther­apy on the feet, lower legs, and hands and is ef­fec­tive across all ages.

“For ba­bies, we fo­cus less on the hands as they are still small and un­de­fined. It is eas­ier to prac­tise on the feet of in­fants.”

It is a com­ple­men­tary ther­apy, which means it is to be used in com­bi­na­tion with other treat­ments or life­style changes to im­prove your gen­eral well­be­ing, and a pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment, mean­ing it en­cour­ages well­ness be­fore disease even be­gins.

“We know that touch can in­flu­ence bio­chem­i­cal re­ac­tions, that it low­ers the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol, that it has a po­ten­tial ef­fect on the im­mune sys­tem, that it helps in­di­vid­u­als re­lax deeply and helps with sleep,” says Melanie.

“Although more re­search is needed, we think re­flex­ol­ogy could help with pain – so it is worth try­ing for teething or di­ges­tive com­plaints.”

SO WHEN AND HOW CAN I START?

“I per­son­ally en­cour­age moms and dads to start foot mas­sage as soon as they feel com­fort­able to do so,” says Melanie.

“Once a baby’s foot loses its con­vex shape and elon­gates you can get more spe­cific. As baby’s foot grows, it be­comes more ex­cit­ing to work on spe­cific re­flexes.

“Start by us­ing your in­dex fin­ger to mas­sage, later mov­ing on to us­ing your thumb. At about two months, you can start to tar­get spe­cific re­flexes, but right from birth you can tar­get the en­tire foot, an­kle and lower leg with gen­tle touch in just five min­utes. To aid bond­ing and to main­tain health, you can do a gen­tle foot mas­sage once or twice a day for five min­utes. For spe­cific ail­ments, stim­u­lat­ing a spe­cific re­flex ev­ery hour

or so may help sup­port your baby.”

Melanie says ba­bies are more re­cep­tive to ther­apy be­cause they haven’t yet been over­whelmed by trauma, bad life­style choices and emo­tional upset from dayto-day stresses.

“Use baby safe creams and oils – baby pow­der works fine too, as does jo­joba, grape­seed, or av­o­cado oils,” says Melanie. “If you want to use es­sen­tial oils, chamomile and laven­der are usu­ally fine (check the pack­ag­ing) although some par­ents pre­fer to wait un­til the baby’s a lit­tle bit older be­fore in­tro­duc­ing es­sen­tial oils.”

HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM DO­ING IT WRONG?

If par­ents are do­ing too deep a mas­sage a baby can un­dergo what Melanie calls a “heal­ing cri­sis”. “Although this is more of­ten seen in adults, it is a toxic re­ac­tion. A baby is usu­ally clear of tox­ins so their re­ac­tion shouldn’t be so se­ri­ous,” she says.

Use very light pres­sure on ba­bies and stop if they cry. Start for short pe­ri­ods. The older the baby gets the longer you can work on them, be­cause they stay still for longer and start to re­ally en­joy it. Don’t per­sist if you can tell your baby doesn’t want it by fuss­ing and avoid rub­bing on bro­ken skin.

Also be aware that re­flex­ol­ogy is con­traindi­cated (so in other words should not be done) for con­di­tions in­clud­ing bro­ken bones, deep vein throm­bo­sis, metas­tases and di­a­betes.

Fi­nally bear in mind that a baby who is sick with fever or di­ar­rhoea should al­ways be mon­i­tored by a qual­i­fied doc­tor first and fore­most in or­der to di­ag­nose and treat any ill­nesses in case they are se­ri­ous. YB

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