First references to the science of reflexology were made around 2,500 BC seen in Egyptian Papyrus documents depicting treatment on feet and hands. Further stone carvings and studies showed that these ancient Egyptians (and also in China and India) understood the body as an integrated system, the feet being the ‘microscopic map of the body’. It is possible to detect the health and wellbeing of major body organs, glands, bones, teeth, gums, muscles and nervous system from this body map. Reflexology is a natural, non-invasive therapy which can be used as a one-off treatment of a specific condition and also an ongoing health maintenance programme helping to keep the body in balance and so an excellent preventative medical treatment.
So how does it work?
Known in the early 1900’s as ‘Zone Therapy’ by Dr William Fitzgerald, and later Eunice Ingham in the 1930’s, the basic premise is that there are zones on different parts of the body that correspond to other parts of the body, finely detailed in the feet. By stimulating specific points, known as reflex points, carefully using firm finger and thumb pressure (acupressure), this restores balance in the body. By looking at the the whole (mini) map of the body on both feet, the treatment whilst addressing specific issues such as back pain, is working on the person as a whole, working through blockages and the feeling of each point. The whole level of tension and stress in the body drops, emotions balance, and the head clears, and so the person treated sees an enormous improvement in health as the system restores itself.
The reflexologist applies Shi-Atsu pressure (shi = finger, atsu = pressure) to the reflex points (effectively nerve endings) to break down blockages and congestion and increase circulation. From this external stimulus, the impulse causes a response from the organ to increase protoplasm activities and normalise its function. In brief it activates our bodies’ nuclear cells, organs and body systems, fully develops the bodies self-healing powers and maintains optimum health. In brief, this helps encourages the body’s neutral structure to achieve balance (known as homeostasis) in all its systems.
This is very logical as some 70% of disorders can be related to stress and nerve tension. Stress is manufactured in the body and not absorbed from outside. Long term exposure to high pressure lifestyles can result in fatigue and depression. This combined with poor diet can creates deep stress patterns and, often as a result, ill-health and low energy. As we manufacture stress, so can we reduce stress with the help of a skilled well trained reflexologist.
Deep relaxation – a major benefit
An increasing number of people are suffering stress-related diseases such as high blood pressure, stomach pains, heart disease and digestive complaints. Prolonged stress becomes very debilitating and as the nervous system becomes depleted, the immune system becomes eroded and a whole host of immune deficient illnesses may present themselves such as ME which are now becoming more prevalent. Abnormal tension and bad posture creates a tightening of muscles especially in the spine and neck, plus long hours in front of computers, tablets and screens, car journeys, in addition to which excessive caffeine and alcohol only adds to more stress … and then we see signs in terms of pain, fatigue and illness.
Relaxation can be termed as a luxury and we often see it in terms of holidays, TV and films; the reality is that our bodies, minds and emotions are working day to day to cope and need support and a way to unwind. Sometimes, when lives have been pushed too far and fast, or when a major stressful life event happens, we need help to unwind our system. Reflexology can do just that. It can induce a trance-like state of relaxation as the manipulation of the reflex points stimulates the parasympathetic (nervous system) response in the body to release (energy) blockages in the body and so a physiological change called relaxation – the feeling you have as you ‘come down step-by-step’ allowing yourself to come ‘off-guard/alert’, similar to that moment when you allow yourself to fall asleep, akin to a hypnotic trance-like state, which then allows the body to restore and reset. Yet, it is relaxation that comes from a very specific treatment addressing all parts of the body including major organs and that is why it is so effective.
Treatment with a really good reflexologist is an experience not to be missed.
So how is it an art?
The art of reflexology lies within the skill and sensitivity of the practitioner. Being able to feel the quality of each and every reflex point, being able to hold points without causing pain trauma (that tightens the body up again), sometimes for long periods with a subtle but firm pressure, is a great skill that takes many years, great stamina, sensitivity and care.
The benefits of relaxing in this way, and working through all the points in a careful and skilful manner, is so very different from other forms of treatment such as massage as it works in a very specific way identifying the quality of each point and a sense of how it is connecting with the correlating parts of the body. It is amazing how the therapist can even feel tired eyes, sore teeth, upset stomachs and the condition of the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys and other parts of the body. Would you trust many people to feel your kidneys? Well you might through the reflex points on your feet. A treatment with Andrea Hurst is a revelation as to your body condition, and not only that, how amazing you will feel during and after it.