Reflexology & Hydration

My last article described current understanding and clinical practice in pain management. Therapies, such as reflexology that treat the whole person rather than just the symptom, can be beneficial.

Reflexology starts with a thorough consultation, providing a timeline of life events and factors, triggers or predispositions and includes a lifestyle, diet and exercise evaluation.

The treatment itself is understood to settle the autonomic nervous system, bringing it out of the sympathetic “fight or flight” stress state and into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” state of relaxation. 

This allows all the systems of the body to work better together. For example, we can digest better, our hormones come back into better balance, we can sleep better and when we are more relaxed, we have less inflammation in the body, which in turn is known to improve mood, reduce pain and have many other positive health benefits.

More advanced adapted techniques include ReflexTherapy, developed by a physiotherapist specialised in spinal injury and whiplash or Reproflexology for fertility to support natural or IVF cycles, as well as Reflexology for Lymph Drainage (RLD) to reduce oedema.

The treatment is usually carried out on the feet, working on the principle that all the systems of the body map onto reflex points on the feet, for example, the big toe relates to the head!  Reflexology can also be carried out on the hands, ears or face.  Gentle pressure is applied to the reflex points working on each system of the body.  By doing this it is possible to sense through the feet (hands, face or ears) where there may be a block and work to release this, for example the adrenal glands if someone has been stressed, the lungs if they have had a bad cough, the shoulders if they are sore.

Whereas reflexology works with the physical body, foot reading provides another dimension to a treatment. Foot reading helps give an insight into our thoughts and feelings in relation to our work, relationships and sense of security, which can help us understand ourselves and others better and areas of imbalance, which can be worked on to release.  It can also provide insight into our personalities and our heritage, interesting from a genealogy point of view.

Additionally, the Chinese 5 element theory gives further insight into the different emotions that relate to each of the organs of the body and ways to bring these into balance. 

I like to offer clients relevant tips that they can take away to do on an everyday basis between treatments, tailored to them, based on findings on the feet and their consultation, to help promote their health and wellbeing. This may be sharing insights from latest research, such as those I have shared in previous articles.  

One important generic piece of advice I always give to all clients, is to keep hydrated with drinking plenty of water, especially after Reflexology, as this helps clear away toxins and waste products from cellular processes, stress and tension, which may have accumulated over time and been released during the treatment.  

I am often asked how much is the right amount to drink.  As a general rule 1.2 litres (about 8 glasses) on average should be adequate throughout the day, though I know some who may drink 4 litres a day. It can depend on other factors such as physical size, exercise levels and climate.  Water is so important because 60% of the body is made up of water and we wouldn’t survive for many days without it.  Water can help overcome tiredness and headaches, improve digestion and help kidney function. The aim is to have light yellow to clear coloured urine. If it is dark this is a sign you are not drinking enough water. Try replacing snacks for water.

Cold water can be nice with a few sprigs of mint and slices of cucumber added to give a refreshing flavour or a slice of lemon. I often boil my tap water before drinking it and often drink it tepid /body temperature (!), which is a Chinese tradition, this is closer to body temperature and I find is less of a shock to the system.

The local Buxton spring is a wonderful source of water when passing the area . Collecting direct from the spring minimises single use plastic bottles. It is little wonder that many of the world’s most renowned health spas have historically been associated with mineral spring water, Buxton included.

Last month I was lucky enough to stay in one of Spains spa towns called Lanjaron in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It had many decorative water wells, where we could top up water carriers for a day of walking in the country’s highest mountains.

In fact the whole area was gushing with fresh water irrigation systems called Acequia, built by the Arabs, to capture ice melt or rainfall. Many of these ran alongside footpaths. To celebrate the abundance of water, Lanjaron holds an annual festival of water – which is essentially a fun water fight – refreshing on a hot day. It was lovely to return to the beautiful well-dressings of Bollington – another tradition celebrating and giving thanks for the gift of water !

Article written by Tracy Mills for Local People Magazine issue Aug 2019.