Friday, September 27, 2013

Pressing Matters

Pressing Matters
Also known as zone therapy, reflexology treats the body by applying pressure to the feet - discover the power of this ancient healing technique.
Reflexology has been used for at least 2,400 years. However, it was not until the early 20th century that maps showing the body zones on the feet were created by Eunice Ingham, as American physiotherapyst who was inspired by the work of Dr William Fitzgerald, an American surgeon, who first found that applying pressure on particular reflex points relieved pain.
How it works
Reflexology maps show how the feet are divided into areas that correspond with every part of the body. These areas, or reflex points, on the feet, ears and hands, are linked to the rest of the body via energy channels or zones. Like acupuncture or acupressure, when the energy along the channels becomes blocked, the part of the body it is linked to does not function as well, resulting in pain or illness.
Applying pressure to reflex points stimulates energy flow, increases the body's self-healing responses and releases any energy blockages. The therapist can either stimulate a point to release an energy blockage or increase the energy to an area; or, they can sedate a point to reduce the energy to an area that may be overactive or over-functioning. This allows the corresponding body area to become balanced.
What it's good for
Many health problems respond well to reflexology, especially stress and stress-related symptoms like headaches, and muscle tension, and digestive problems, such as constipation, indigestion and colic. Other issues that respond well include sinusitis, hayfever, catarrh, earaches, ear and eye problems, migraine, gallstones, shingles, arthritis, sciatica, frozen shoulder, menopausal symptoms and menstrual irregularities. Reflexology it should only be administered by a qualified practitioner, especially if you are pregnant, as some reflex points should not be stimulated during pregnancy. Other health problems that may need special monitoring are insulin-dependent diabetes and heart problems.
What to expect
The reflexologist will take a thorough case history before commencing any treatment. They will ask you questions about previous health problems and the reasons why you've come. The actual treatment may last up to one hour or so. Depending on the style of the reflexologist, the pressure may be firm or light. Some treatments may be slightly painful if the areas of the body are out of balance. The number of treatments required depends very much on the individual: most people experience improvement after six treatments, some notice a profound difference after just one.
Doris Gordon is a reflexologist based in Castle Hill, NSW. Gordon says, "To define reflexology is difficult. Is it an art? Is it a science? Well, it's both. My philosophy is to consider the health of the whole person - mental, emotional and physical - and to use reflexology to restore ease to their body." Gordon remarks that her clients are invariably far more relaxed after a treatment. "One client, a masseur, says that she feels her body is light all day, her voice is softer, she feels more feminine and she tends to listen to people more rather than talking as much. I also find that clients are far more centred when they leave. They notice the trees and birds and take pleasure in looking at the garden. They are less rushed," she adds.
Gordon "tunes in" with a client as she works on their feet, becoming aware of the different temperatures and textures within the feet that indicate blockages or problems in corresponding body parts. "Reflexology is particularly good for working on problems like sciatica or a headache, because you don't have to work on the actual part of the body that is experiencing the pain," she says. "You can work on it through the feet instead, to correct the imbalance."
Ester Copley practises reflexology at the Ocean Medical Centre in Bondi, NSW. She first learned about the therapy in her home country of Israel when she was ill and was not improving with orthodox medicine. After the first reflexology treatment, she began to improve. Copley says, "The theory behind reflexology is that the feet are the mirror of your body. For example, if a person has a congested liver, there is a point for the liver on the foot. When I work on this point, I can bring more energy or less energy to the organ, or release blockages of energy. Then the organ begins to heal. However, I look at reflexology in a much broader way. I look at the effects of the touching, the talking, the hour I spend with the patient. To me the healing begins when the patient comes and they know they have an hour to unload their problems and to heal on all levels. The first thing I say to people is that reflexology is great for deep relaxation - and that when you are deeply relaxed, you are halfway there, because you are giving your body a chance to heal."
Case studies
Chronic fatigue syndrome: A woman came to see Doris Gordon after being diagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome. She was drinking too much coffee and taking medication the doctor had prescribed. "When she first started treatments about six months ago, she was a mess," says Gordon. "Her whole body ached, she was terribly tired and stressed, and had severe brain fog. Within the first month, she said she was feeling so much better in body as well as in mind."
Nerve damage: Another patient of Gordon's, a man, came to see her because of sciatica. She discovered that, at eight years of age, he had received a deep cut into his calf, and had experienced numbness in his foot as a result ever since. When he arrived for the fourth session, he took off his socks and shoes and said, "I can feel the carpet - I finally have feeling in my foot!"
Chronic vaginal discharge: A young woman came to see Ester Copley because of chronic vaginal discharge and itching that had not responded to conventional orthodox treatments of any kind. After two reflexology treatments, she advised that the problem had simply gone away. Says Copley, "This patient was amazed at how quickly the problem was resolved. And she had tried everything!"

Source : Nature and Health


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