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 foot 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 well-being issues you have, I treat the feet according to what I find. Some areas of your feet 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 in your your feet, 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 other times pressure may be firmer. 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.
There are a number of theories as to how reflexology might work.
One explanation is that it works via the nervous system and that the application of pressure to the feet sends a calming message from the peripheral nerves in the feet 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.
Another theory holds that there is a 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 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 with 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.
Another view is that toxins in the body build up and because of gravity, residue tends to end up in the feet and creates crystal-like deposits. Applying pressure to the feet through reflexology techniques helps to break up these deposits and remove toxins from the body.
The common theme running through each of these theories is that 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.
Absolutely not! Although you may feel that reflexology helps support you with a particular health condition, the old agade of ‘prevention is better than cure’ applies perfectly to the benefits of the therapy. A preventative approach to wellness can save time, money and frustration and help you maintain a good quality of life, both physically and emotionally.
Reflexology can be a core component of your overall plan for good health and well-being. if you think of your body as a car, a reflexology treatment is the maintenance tune-up which works in conjunction with other things, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise and good sleep. Everyday issues such as negative emotions, stress, lifestyle and a poor diet can throw the body out of sync and if one part doesn't work properly the whole body suffers. To get the maximum out of your body you have to keep it in good working order and prevent problems arising by getting a regular maintenance service. Unlike a vehicle, you can't trade your body in for a new model, so it makes sense to treat the one you have with as much care as possible. So, for example, people receiving regular reflexology treatments may find that they feel more in balance, catch fewer colds, feel less anxious, and sleep better.
Reflexology is a very individual treatment which is tailored to you as a whole person, taking into account a range of physical, emotional and lifestyle factors that might be affecting your overall well-being. Some people find reflexology works for them and some don't – the best way to find out is to try it!
I would never claim to cure, diagnose or prescribe any condition, and neither should any other well trained reflexologist. Your feet may indicate areas of your body that are congested or 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.
If you have questions regarding your health or an ongoing medical condition you should always see your GP before having a reflexology treatment. Reflexology should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice.
Reflexology in pregnancy is considered safe in pregnancy and I provide a full consultation before commencing any treatment to ensure that it can go ahead.
If your pregnancy is classed as high-risk or you have. e.g. high blood pressure, a low-lying placenta or other issues I may not be able to treat you but please do get in touch and I can answer any questions you may have.
Please note that reflexology does not replace any advice provided by your GP or midwife and consent from them may be required. If you suspect any problems in your pregnancy or how you are feeling after you've had your baby, please contact your doctor, midwife or health visitor.
No, I would never encourage this. 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. And a reflexology consultation is not intended as medical advice.
Reflexology can be a integral component of your overall plan for improved well-being, which may also include taking conventional medications as well as using other complementary therapies.
The number of treatments you might require depends on your objectives for your reflexology. If you’re focused on 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 well-being, I generally suggest that monthly treatments are optimum.
However, 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.
Please just wear anything that you feel comfortable in! As I will work around the ankle and calf areas, it’s best to wear trousers which can be comfortably rolled up to just underneath your knees. Other than removing your shoes and socks the rest of your clothes stay on.
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, long nails, dry skin...the list of perceived problems goes on!
Please don’t feel embarrassed about your feet, I have seen feet of all shapes, sizes and conditions. I genuinely consider the feet as being truly amazing as they support our whole bodies, day in and day out, throughout the whole of our lives. They just need some time and attention for the hard work that they do!
If possible, it’s best not to eat too close to the start of your treatment and you shouldn’t drink alcohol either. There is no need to wash your feet as I will cleanse them at the start of the session. 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.
Your first appointment will last up to an hour and 15 minutes. This allows about 50 minutes for the actual reflexology treatment plus extra time for a full consultation. This consultation will confidentially discuss your overall health and well-being and your objectives for reflexology, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Ongoing sessions last for 60 minutes which includes at least a 50 minute treatment plus time to catch up at the beginning and end to review your progress, discuss your objectives and provide any home care tips, when needed.
Before or at your first treatment, I will ask you about your medical history, lifestyle, current health and reflexology objectives. This enables me to gain an understanding of your overall health and well-being and adapt the treatment(s) to best meet your needs. Any information you provide, like everything else that happens or is discussed during the treatment, will be held in the strictest confidence.
If you are having a workplace treatment, the information I gather will be more simple but will still cover any key health and well-being matters to ensure that the treatment is safe and appropriate for your needs. Similarly this information, and anything that is disclosed during the treatment, will be held in the strictest confidence.
Once the treatment is complete you should drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the day to rehydrate yourself. If you can, try not to rush back to reality too quickly. Go for a short, gentle walk and sit down with a cup of herbal tea before getting back to your list of jobs and emails!
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 foot injury, stitches, bruising or infection (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 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.
- 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.
There are plenty of anecdotal reports that reflexology has a positive effect on people's general health well-being, 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 clinical claims of effectiveness.
A useful summary of some studies can be found here.
2013 University of Portsmouth study: Reflexology reduces feelings of pain
The Association of Reflexology provides links to a range of research studies on the impact of reflexology on specific conditions. For more information please contact them via www.aor.org.uk.
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'
I have an ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Reflexology (Distinction) which required me to undertake over 100 treatments before even qualifying!
I am a full member of the Association of Reflexologists (AOR) www.aor.org.uk which means that I hold a nationally recognised reflexology qualification and am fully insured. To stay registered with the AOR, I need to demonstrate that I adhere to their code of practice and am committed to my continuing professional development, through e.g. training and keeping up-to-date with industry developments.
Since qualifying as a reflexologist I've undertaken additional training, and specialise in, Reflexology for Women's Health, Maternity Reflexology and Mindful Reflexology.
Prior to qualifying as a reflexologist I worked in the workplace wellness industry for nearly 20 years. During this time I gained an OCR Diploma in Stress Management which gave me a thorough knowledge of the impact of stress on our physical and emotional well-being, and how it negatively impacts on our personal and professional lives. I also delivered a number of stress resilience and work-life balance workshops to employees and managers in the workplace.
I believe that reflexology can help support people with many stress-related conditions, and my workplace experience and stress management training has given me extra insights into how I can help my reflexology clients reduce their stress levels in healthy and positive ways.
Yes, 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 between you and I.
In addition, any information I hold on my clients is stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
I accept payment by cash and cheque, or by BACS when prepaying for treatments or purchasing gift vouchers/packages.
Please ensure that if you are paying by BACS you pay in advance/at the end of your treatment.
If you haven't tried reflexology before, you might question whether a foot treatment can really make a difference to your well-being. You may also be unsure about complementary treatments and what a reflexology session might involve?
In my experience, even the most sceptical of people enjoy a reflexology treatment and benefit from its immediate effect which is the creation of a sense of deep relaxation. Many people come back for regular treatments when they experience, for example, better sleep, an improvement in mood and more energy. For many of my clients, just having that time to stop and have an hour for themselves is a great way to clear the mind, relax the body and improve their sense of well-being.
The only way to find out if reflexology is for you is to try it! I'm always happy to take time to answer any questions you may have before you commit to a treatment so do feel free to call or email me if you are interested but unsure.