Your Health with Lucy Wilson of Physio & Therapies: How reflexology can relieve stress

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Reflexology is a form of complementary medicine that involves massage to the feet or hands but most commonly the feet.

There are areas on both hands and feet that correspond to different parts of the body, so it works a little like acupuncture – but without the needles.

Reflexology can be used to treat a wide range of health problems. Research that was undertaken in 2003 on patients with multiple sclerosis found that reflexology improved abnormal sensations.

A further study, five years later revealed that it had become one of the most popular complementary therapies for multiple sclerosis sufferers.

People suffering from cancer commonly use reflexology to help them relax and cope with stress and anxiety and to help relieve pain.

Scientific studies have also looked into reflexology use for diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, bladder problems and dementia.

The roots of reflexology date back many years and are thought to have their origin in ancient Chinese pressure point therapies. It evolved into its common form in the 1920s and 1960s and has since become very popular for its ability to aid relaxation.

Reflexology sessions last an hour, and during a first visit a 15 minute consultation will be received.

This helps identify any existing health problems and guides the treatment. Following the consultation, the treatment will be performed on the feet whilst sitting or reclining on a treatment couch.

During the session, the reflexologist will gently apply pressure to different areas of the feet – those that correspond with the areas of the body that might be experiencing problems.

Reflexology can be performed on, and benefit, everyone, from the very young to the elderly. It is great for people who may fear needles but who would like the health benefits of acupuncture.

Similarly, not everyone feels comfortable with the idea of a full body massage, so a massage just to the feet can be a lot less daunting.

It is also one of the safest and most supportive therapies for pregnant women, who may be suffering from some of the adverse effects of the physiological changes that pregnancy can bring.

Reflexology can be extremely beneficial for expectant, labouring or newly delivered women and for their babies; both to treat a variety of specific conditions and to aid relaxation and induce sleep.

Regular sessions throughout pregnancy, after week 14, can help to alleviate symptoms by encouraging the body’s self-healing and self-regulating systems.

Midwives are also looking into how reflexology can benefit expectant mothers.

One small study on 100 overdue women at Walsall’s Manor Hospital, found that reflexology was extremely helpful.

During the study, some of the mums-to-be were offered free reflexology treatment on their feet during the final stages of their pregnancy, while others did without.

The results found that overall, the length of the first stage of labour was four hours shorter and the second stage - when the woman starts to push - was 21 minutes shorter, in those women who received the reflexology treatment.

After birth, treatments can also help restore balance to a woman’s body. Women experience huge physical and emotional changes during pregnancy, and it is important that they are given the time to recover from the experience.

To find out more or to receive £10 off your first session at the clinic contact the Physio and Therapies team on 01706 819464.