WELL­BE­ING

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How does the an­cient heal­ing ther­apy re­flex­ol­ogy work?

I ad­mit to be­ing slightly squea­mish at the thought of a full body mas­sage by any­one other than an in­ti­mate other, and I can hon­estly say that I only en­joyed one of the four pro­fes­sional mas­sages I’ve had in my en­tire life. The oth­ers were cringey in the ex­treme. A lit­tle re­flex­ol­ogy, how­ever, has al­ways seemed like a good idea. I find the fact that each tiny part of the foot con­nects mean­ing­fully to other body parts fas­ci­nat­ing. Fu­mie ( raku- co­modo.com), a reg­is­tered re­flex­ol­ogy ther­a­pist, gave me the most re­lax­ing treat­ment my feet have ever had, us­ing oils and work­ing on one foot at a time.

I no­ticed that cer­tain ar­eas were quite sen­si­tive to pres­sure, like the base of my big toe, for ex­am­ple. This con­nects to the hy­po­thal­a­mus, link­ing ner­vous tis­sue to the pi­tu­itary gland, which reg­u­lates hor­mones that af­fect blood pres­sure and me­tab­o­lism, some sex or­gans, wa­ter reg­u­la­tion and preg­nancy. This area is of­ten ten­der when some pres­sure is ap­plied, Fu­mie ex­plained, but could this also be a sign of my age­ing hor­mones pre­par­ing to read me the riot act?

A lot of time is spent mas­sag­ing re­ally small ar­eas around the toes, so that seem­ingly in­signif­i­cant body parts start to be­come awak­ened. When Fu­mie pressed on the lower end of the foot above the heel, which con­nects to the small in­testi­nal tract and di­ges­tive sys­tem, the slight pain I felt in­di­cates I may have some clogged-up en­ergy there. One of th­ese days I’ll get round to a detox. Ev­ery part of the mas­sage that caused some sen­si­tiv­ity, par­tic­u­larly in my back and joints, sug­gested that I ought to do some gen­tle stretch­ing or yoga, or per­haps bet­ter still, make an ap­point­ment with an os­teopath.

Re­flex­ol­ogy is a non-in­tru­sive com­ple­men­tary health ther­apy, which can be prac­tised on the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears. It of­ten ap­peals to those like me who don’t like too much stranger in­tru­sion; I’m cer­tainly no ther­apy junkie! Re­flex­ol­o­gists work holis­ti­cally with their clients and aim to work along­side al­lo­pathic health care to pro­mote bet­ter health for their clients.

Re­flex­ol­ogy is an an­cient ther­apy and an art form be­cause the way in which each prac­ti­tioner works is unique. It takes about a year to train as a prac­ti­tioner but it has been prac­ticed for over 5,000 years and was in­tro­duced to the West over 100 years ago.

Re­flex­ol­ogy ad­her­ents say that well­be­ing is in­creased through the prac­tise cu­mu­la­tively, so the more fre­quently you have it the bet­ter and more en­er­gised you feel. This seems es­pe­cially im­por­tant in to­day’s stressed- out world. I felt like fall­ing asleep al­most in­stantly, but ap­par­ently there are dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions. Some peo­ple feel the urge to talk and oth­ers feel in­vig­o­rated. Af­ter Fu­mie left, I slept for two hours and when I awoke I felt like a new per­son, much more cen­tred and re­laxed. I think my feet ac­tu­ally looked dif­fer­ent too, some­how.

When I talked to Tracey Smith, a mem­ber of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­flex­ol­o­gists, who al­most accidentally be­came a re­flex­ol­o­gist, she told me that quite a lot of women are find­ing re­flex­ol­ogy use­ful in con­ceiv­ing a child be­cause of its re­lax­ing benefits. The As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­flex­ol­o­gists is the main and de­fin­i­tive body that will en­sure that the prac­ti­tion­ers reg­is­tered have been trained to a suf­fi­cient stan­dard and, if you want to try this amaz­ing ther­apy, it has an ex­cel­lent web­site full of use­ful in­for­ma­tion. The handy “find a re­flex­ol­o­gist” ser­vice can help you find a well-trained and in­sured re­flex­ol­o­gist lo­cal to you.

Re­flex­ol­ogy is some­thing I’ll def­i­nitely do reg­u­larly now; it seems like a luxury born of ne­ces­sity.

ALENA DI­ER­ICKX SUB­MITS TO THE SKILLS OF A RE­FLEX­OL­O­GIST Each tiny part of the foot con­nects to other body parts

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