What is a reflexology treatment?
A complete reflexology therapy session uses a single thumb massage technique and includes all of the points on both feet (and perhaps the hands). 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.
By working all of the points, the Reflexologist addresses internal organs and glands as well as muscle groups, bones, nerve ganglions (solar plexus, brachial plexus) and nerves (sciatic) during a session.
If Reflexologists find congestion or tightness during the session, they will apply pressure to work on bringing the body back into balance. If the practitioner finds an area of pain, the area is worked until harmony is brought to the area or point. To "release pain" is not the model: the goal is rather to bring the whole body into balance, and then the pain will subside. The Reflexologist stimulates the nervous system to do the work, it is not the therapist who "fixes" it.
The Reflexologist can return to that area or spot at the end of the session, confirming the pain has released.
What will I experience during the session?
Experiences with reflexology sessions vary from a general sense of relaxation and rest to a conscious awareness internally of the area of the body where the practitioner is working through the foot, hand or ear.
Many people experience a "lightness" or tingling in the body, as well as feelings of warmth, a sense of "opening," or "energy moving" from the practitioner's pressure to the specific body area or organ. There is often a physical perception of energy flowing through every organ, valve, gland, or muscle, as well as a sense of communication between each body system.
Other reactions during the session range from physical to emotional and may include:
- Perspiration of hands or feet
- Sensation of being cold or chilled
- Feeling light-headed
- 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
- Rarely, contraction of muscle groups (pain)
It bears repeating: Reflexologists do not diagnose. Reflexologists do not diagnose or tell you about any congestion or tension they observe on the foot, hand, or ear during a session that may suggest abnormalities.
One of the theories of reflexology is that the body will nurture and repair itself once released from stress. If the body is extremely stressed, the Reflexologist may refer you to a medical team or another treatment, if appropriate, but at no time will he or she give medical advice or diagnosis.
What happens at the end of the session?
Most Reflexologists have some type of calm, peaceful way of closing the session that involves stroking the hand or foot and holding the limb in some manner. The important aspect is for you to feel comforted and nurtured, and to feel that you have had time for yourself during the session.
Now that the session is complete, you should not feel rushed. Gently bring yourself back into the present moment, and orient yourself. As you feel comfortable, gather yourself and your belongings to leave.
The practitioner may recommend that you drink water, rest if necessary, and pay attention to your body in the next few hours. If any questions or concerns arise, you should be able to call the practitioner.
Various reactions may occur following a reflexology session. These, too, are subtle, and are often not recognized by many people as a result of the reflexology therapy. Many of the reactions are positive signs that the session is part of a healing process; other symptoms are indicative of the body's attempts to return to a state of balance and harmony. Symptoms usually last for 24-48 hours. Reactions may include:
- Increased energy
- Enhanced sleep
- Relief from pain
- More mobile joints
- Tiredness (some clients find that they need more sleep in order for the body to rest and repair)
- Skin rashes, pimples, or spots (due to elimination of toxins)
- Kidney stones passed with ease
- Frequent bowel movements, diarrhea (cleansing, elimination of toxins)
- Increased mucus (nasal discharge, vaginal discharge)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Emotional or psychological release (crying)
How many sessions are needed?
The number of sessions varies and is determined by the client's health and reasons for seeking reflexology. But in general, results from reflexology are often subtle and are cumulative. Thus, you are more likely to see greater benefits from regular sessions (for example, once a week for six weeks) than if you had a session once every six months.
If you are dealing with a specific illness or condition, you may need to have more frequent sessions. A general recommendation might be to begin with a session every week for 4-6 weeks, followed by a "tune-up" every six weeks.