Frequently asked questions
Reflexology is a very individual treatment and I tailor every session to your specific needs, rather than performing one set treatment for all my clients. If you're feeling a little wired and want a calming treatment I'll work the relevant reflex points using mostly soothing, rebalancing techniques. If you're tired and need to feel more energised, I work your reflexes in a more dynamic way.
As well as working the reflex points for any health or wellbeing issues you have, I treat you according to what I find. Some areas of your feet, face or hands may feel tender, congested, tight or soft, for example. From the information you provide in your first consultation, along with the areas of imbalance I find, I can create a bespoke treatment plan to support you should you wish to come for more sessions.
I use different techniques and pressure in every treatment. Sometimes I'll apply a gentle pressure to your reflex points, and facial reflexology treatments are always gentle. Other times pressure may be firmer, more so with foot reflexology. Sometimes you'll feel nothing other than a soothing sensation, and other times reflexes may be more tender to the touch. When I work on any sore spots this should feel therapeutic and manageable, a treatment shouldn't ever be torturously painful! I'll check in with you throughout the treatment to make sure you are comfortable.
Whatever kind of treatment you receive, the overall feeling you should get is a sense of deep relaxation and balance. I'm a firm believer that reflexology gives you what you need, when you need it. I find that clients who arrive tired feel like they have more energy when they leave, and clients who are stressed feel clearer in their mind and more relaxed in their body.
Confidentiality and trust are the foundation of the relationship I have with my clients. I am bound by the ethical guidelines of the Association of Reflexologists (AoR) to protect client confidentiality. You can be assured that whatever we discuss in my treatment room will stay confidential.
In addition, any information I hold on my clients is stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. You can read here for information on how I handle your data for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, May 2018) compliance.
Reflexology is thought to work through the nervous and energy systems. The application of pressure to the feet, face and hands sends a calming message from the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system. This in turn signals the body to make adjustments to bring the body into balance, for example by getting more oxygen into the corresponding cells. We also have vital energy, or 'Chi', in the human body and if stress isn't addressed, it leads to congestion which in turn causes inefficiencies and illness in the body. Working on the feet, face and hands balances energy throughout the body and removes blockages in these energy pathways so that the corresponding organs benefit from a clearer and increased flow of energy.
Dr Fitzgerald's zone theory, which is considered the basis of modern reflexology, links both the energy and nerve theories. Zone theory divides the body into 10 vertical zones, with each zone corresponding to fingers and toes all the way up to the top of the head, and energy and nerve pathways are thought to follow these zones. Zone theory is in some ways similar to the traditional meridian system used in acupuncture.
In addition to working specific reflex points, reflexology induces a sense of deep relaxation and helps to relieve tension held in the body. When we are in this deeply relaxed state our stress levels fall and areas which are out of sync are calmed, which helps the body to repair itself, and brings it into a state of 'homeostasis'. Homeostasis is an inner balance that is essential for the body to function properly. As all of the body's systems are closely linked, anything that negatively affects one part of the body will ultimately have a knock-on affect on other areas, and also impact the whole person. Balancing one area through reflexology will have a directly positive affect on other areas of the body, and again on the body as a whole.
The art of working the feet to effect health is thought to go back around 4000 years to ancient Egypt, India and China. On the wall of the sixth dynasty Egyptian tomb of Ankhmahor, two men are depicted having work done on their feet and hands.
Reflexology was introduced to the west in 1917 when Dr William Fitzgerald, a respected ear, nose and throat specialist developed his 'zone therapy' where he believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other parts of the body within the same zones. Dr Fitzgerald also discovered that some of his patients were producing an anaesthetic-type effect on certain parts of their bodies when pressure was applied to other areas. He discovered that by placing elastic bands or clothes peg-like clamps on the fingers he could perform some minor surgical operations without an anaesthetic.
In the 1930s, Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist, further developed this zone theory and believed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot was mirrored in the corresponding part of the body. She believed that by applying pressure to certain areas of the feet she could not only reduce pain but treat a range of other ailments too. Reflexology became her life's work and she brought reflexology as we know it today to the public’s attention, being the first person to map the body onto the feet. Modern hand reflexology was developed based on her work.
Facial reflexology has been developed over the last 30-40 years, drawing on a combination of native American techniques, Asian body mapping, zone therapy and acupuncture points.
Reflexology is a complementary therapy, not an alternative treatment. I would never claim to cure, diagnose or prescribe any condition, and neither should any other trained reflexologist. Your feet may indicate areas of your body that are out of balance and I can discuss my findings with you. However imbalances in the feet don't necessarily show that anything is 'wrong' and I always refer my clients to other healthcare professionals when appropriate.
Although the benefits of reflexology are increasingly being recognised by the medical profession (some GPs now refer patients to reflexology to help with stress; it is often used in hospice care; and some private healthcare plans will cover the cost of treatment) it is not intended to replace your relationship with your GP, consultant or other healthcare professional.
Reflexology can be an integral component of your overall plan for improved wellbeing, which may also include taking conventional medication as well as using other complementary therapies. I would never recommend using reflexology instead of convential medicine, and a reflexology consultation is not intended as medical advice.
If you have questions regarding your health or an ongoing medical condition you should always see your GP.
The number of treatments you might require depends on your objectives for your reflexology. If you’re focusing on support for a specific health issue I would recommend that initially you book four to six treatments, once a week, to see if reflexology is having a positive benefit for you. At the end of these initial sessions we can discuss how things are going and develop a future treatment plan to meet your needs.
If you're having treatments to promote rest and relaxation, or to maintain your wellbeing, I suggest that monthly treatments are optimum.
Ultimately the frequency of your treatments is completely up to you. Some of my clients come weekly, some have fortnightly treatments, some come monthly and others have treatments a couple of times a year.
Most people, even those with ticklish feet, don’t find reflexology ticklish and relax into their treatment quite easily. The pressure applied to the feet is firm and systematic, so your feet are definitely not tickled! If, however, during your treatment we find an area of the feet too tickly to treat, I can adjust the pressure or move on to a different part of your foot.
The most common thing people say to me at the start of their first treatment is 'I'm sorry' and then proceed to tell me about their 'ugly' feet, chipped nail varnish, dry skin...the list of perceived problems goes on!
Please don’t feel embarrassed about your feet, face or hands. These areas of our bodies are truly amazing as they work hard, day in and day out, throughout our lives. They definitely deserve some extra time and attention!
If possible, it’s best not to eat too close to the start of your treatment and you shouldn’t drink alcohol either. There's no need to wash your feet as I will cleanse them at the start of the session (I will lightly cleanse your face if you're having facial reflexology). Most importantly, don’t bring your phone or other devices into the treatment room, or turn them off – remember this is precious time for yourself, away from the demands of others!
Please arrive on time for your appointment to enable you gain the maximum treatment time and ensure appointments after yours run to schedule.
Usually, after a treatment, you will feel relaxed – it’s not uncommon for people to fall asleep during their session! You might also feel less stressed, notice yourself sleeping better and find that your mood and sense of well-being has improved. Many people also report that they feel revitalised, re-energised and their concentration improves after a treatment. Physical sensations may include more mobility in the joints and a feeling of tingling, lightness or warmth in the body.
You might find that you feel a little thirsty afterwards, which is a good indication that toxins are moving out of your body, so do make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the day. Some people do experience more after effects which may include: a mild headache; a streaming nose; needing to go to the toilet more frequently; tiredness; feeling nauseous, or; feeling emotional or tearful. This is a normal part of the body's healing process and any such symptoms should pass within 48 hours.
There are very few situations where it isn’t possible to provide reflexology. However, I won’t be able to treat you if you have any of the following conditions:
- A significant injury, stitches, bruising or infection on your feet, face or hands (minor bruising, injuries and infections such as athletes foot are usually fine).
- Multiple veruccas (one or two veruccas are OK, please cover with a plaster before your treatment).
- A cold sore on your face (for facial reflexology only).
- A contagious illness, or flu.
- A DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
- A medical oedema (swelling) combined with high blood pressure.
- You are classed as having a high-risk pregnancy.
- An illness which isn’t currently being stabilised by medication.
- A serious illness or a recent operation for which you are still under the care of a consultant/surgeon.
- Botox or dermal fillers injected less than three weeks ago (for facial reflexology only).
- You're under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Once these issues have been resolved, and you or your GP is happy to provide consent, you can have a reflexology treatment. Please do contact me if you have any queries about this.
In addition to these general guidelines, more information on Covid restrictions can be found here.
There are plenty of anecdotal reports that reflexology has a positive effect on people's health and wellbeing, as well as supporting them with specific health issues. And there have been some positive research projects carried out regarding the benefits of reflexology. However, as yet, there is not a large enough body of evidence to make robust clinical claims of effectiveness.
A useful summary of some studies can be found here.
The Association of Reflexology provides links to a range of research studies on the impact of reflexology on specific conditions. Please get in touch with me to find out if there's a study on a particular health condition.
Below are some articles about the benefits of reflexology which you may also find interesting:
Reflexology The World at Your Feet
Just Put Your Feet Up
Reflexology: The Health Benefits
Reflexology for Runners
Reflexology for Runners (2)
Could reflexology help support you through the menopause?
Reflexology for crying babies
All Hands and Feet
Study finds reflexology affects the hearts of non-cardiology patients
Reflexology 'as effective as pain killers'
2013 University of Portsmouth study on pain: Reflexology reduces feelings of pain
An all-natural alternative to botox
The Bergman method tried and tested
Ziggie Bergman's facial reflexology press