Reflexology 101 for the uninitiated

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Reflexology. We’ve heard the word, but for many of us, that’s where it ends. Time for Reflexology 101.

What is reflexology?

Reflexology is the application of pressure to areas on the feet, hands and ears. These areas correspond to organs and systems of the body including lymphatic, cardiovascular, nervous and muscular systems. Reflexologists may use foot charts to guide them as they apply pressure to specific areas.

In addition, some practioners use wooden rollers, grip balls, rubber bands and lasers, tuning forks and more to assist in their work. It is believed that when pressure is applied to these areas there is a direct correlation to how it affects one’s personal health.

Yadi Alamin, six-time-certified Reflexologist, Tibetan Medical QiGong Therapist and Owner of Charlotte Reflexology, said, “It is truly amazing how accurately you can read a person’s body and emotions from something as small as a foot or hand.”

Those that are qualified to practice reflexology include reflexologists and can also include chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists.

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What you experience during a session

A complete reflexology therapy session uses many different techniques and includes all of the points on both feet (and perhaps the hands and ears). The session generally starts at the fingers or toes, and works down to the heel of the hand or foot, then works the areas on the sides and top.

If a practitioner finds congestion or tightness during a session, they will apply pressure to work on bringing the body back into balance. By working all of the points, the reflexologist addresses internal organs and glands as well as bones and nerves during a session, which can last anywhere between 30-60 minutes. During a reflexology session, some of the movements will seem similar to massage therapy but they are not one in the same.

“Reflexology is not massage,” Alamin said. “Massage focuses on muscles and sometimes fascia. Reflexologists apply pressure to places in between bones, cracks and crevices, where there are major nerves, but no muscles. Sore muscles in Reflexology indicate blood flow issues. A good reflexologist will not use long strokes like a massage therapist.”

How you may feel during and after a session

People have various reactions to reflexology sessions. During the sessions, you can be in a euphoric state, completely relaxed or even acutely aware, feeling every pressure point being pushed. Alamin said he can see the relief in the faces and bodies of his clients. Many people experience a lightness or tingling in the body, as well as feelings of warmth, a feeling of openness or “energy” stirring around from the reflexologist’s pressure to the specific body area or organ.

According to the Center for Spirituality & Healing, other physical and emotional reactions during a reflexology treatment may include:

– Perspiration of hands or feet

– Sensation of being cold or chilled

– Feeling light-headed

– Coughing

– Laughing

– Crying

– Sighing deeply

– Overwhelming desire to sleep

– Disappearance of all pain and discomfort

– Loose, relaxed muscles

– Feeling like all organs are hanging freely, not stressed and connected

– Thirst

– Rarely, contraction of muscle groups (pain)

What are the benefits of reflexology?

Many studies from well renowned research institutions such as Mayo Clinic and National Institutes of Health have shown that reflexology may reduce pain and psychological systems like anxiety and depression, as well as enhance relaxation and sleep. Preliminary studies have also found that reflexology can help patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer and coronary issues.

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Worth noting: A 2011 review did find that no strong clinical evidence shows reflexology is effective “for any medical condition.”

Where to go for reflexology

There are various places to try reflexology including:

Charlotte Reflexology: 5200 Park Rd Suite 207A Charlotte, NC 28209

DanceSport Reflexology (inside Om Spa Chiropractic and Wellness): 523 Fenton Place Charlotte, NC 28207

Namaste Wellness Charlotte: 813 Fairview Rd Charlotte, NC 28210

Tips from Alamin for preparing for your first session

– Do not wear cologne/perfume, heavy lotions or hair products to your session.

– Avoid alcohol and caffeine before and after your session.

– Before arriving, make a list of what symptoms you feel (i.e. digestion issues, pain, fatigue, etc.) so the reflexologist can see how much relief each session brings.

Photo: Monicore

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