Reflexology - a gentle option for pain management
There is nothing more exhausting than living with pain. Long-term pain or pain for which the cause is known or otherwise. Pain is a symptom that many people live with on a daily basis. Whether the caused by illness, injury or invisible such as with CFS/fibromyalgia it can be exhausting.
This can cause additional issues such as low mood, frustration and depression, not to mention the side effects of ongoing pain medication.
Many people seek therapies to help them manage these symptoms and give them precious time out from their day to 'battle' with pain.
In my own personal experience of living with long-term pain and also supporting my teenage son on his recovery journey from CFS, I have found Reflexology to be of great support and benefit.
As a reflexologist, I already knew the wonders of Reflexology but there is no experience like first-hand experience.
Reflexology works on the basis of stimulation the bodies own natural state of homeostasis and balance. The body is capable of delivering its own natural form of painkiller and when working correctly can induce a state of relaxation and recovery. Our bodies are designed to take care of themselves. However, this was known by early Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Russian and Egyptians who works on the feet to promote good health and wellbeing. The principle that there are energy zones which run throughout the body with reflex areas in the feet that correspond to systems, organs and body parts. Pioneers in this area - Dr William Fitzgerald who developed zone therapy and Eunice Ingham who went on to develop this work into the now known Reflexology. Reflexology now a science and an art - evidence based reflexology research now provides statistics and study papers which demonstrates the findings of reflexology treatments, outcomes and statistics of improvement in physical, emotional health and wellbeing. (Evidenced Based Reflexology Research - for health professionals and researcher Barbara & Kevin Kunz)
In my own personal area of interest and specialism of CFS/Fibromyalgia research conducted by Barabara & Kevin Kunz of 50 patients with CFS receiving foot reflexology daily for 10 days at 30 mins per days showed; 35 recovered - (70%) symptoms completely disappeared resuming normal work and in 15 (30%) cases significantly reduced symptoms, resumed normal work.
The report does not discuss levels of fatigue but their symptoms included dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, weakness, muscle pain, palpitations, forgetful, poor diet, poor movements and sexual dysfunction. I have also found this to be true when working with clients experiencing fatigue.
I have also worked with clients providing reflexology for pain management who experience arthritic pain, Parkinson, post surgery, spinal pain, palliative care, all finding that reflexology allows them to relax deeply, reduce anxiety and restore balance to their body.
But why does this work so well?
Reflexes and the endocrine system.
By stimulating the reflexes which corollate with the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a group of glans that directly secrete hormones into blood circulation. Made up of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenals, pineal gland, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, panaceas, ovaries, testes when working in unison they support the chemistry of the body, how messages are sent and received. When one area is out of sync this can quickly break down. This system can be quickly affected by high levels of stress and or trauma. Reflexology can support with rebalancing the systems and returning the endocrine system to its flow.
Reflexes and the Lymphatic system.
Reflexology also allows the stimulation and movement of the Lymphatic system. A little like the map of the London underground but with the vital role of passing through and dropping off waste products. The lymphatic system in Reflexology terms is all about 'letting go' - physically, emotionally, energetically or spiritually. Lymph is moved due to skeletal muscles, if there is no movement the lymph stagnates. When someone is living with a pain condition, fatigue or illness, movement can be challenging and limited. Reflexology can help to stimulate reflexes which correlate with this stagnant lymph and therefore improve lymphatic drainage and removal of toxins from the body.
Reflexes and the muscular-skeletal system
Reflexology can also work on muscular-skeletal systems - muscles and bone. This is the area I have found personally beneficial due to a spinal condition I have which can cause severe pain and disruption to movement. when these flare-ups occur it also involves the muscles around the spine, shoulders and neck. Reflexology allows me to reduce the pain, inflammation and induce relaxation, thus allowing movement to return.
When using reflexology to support my son on his recovery from CFS, muscle pain was a huge part of his daily/nightly symptoms. As well as working the endocrine system I was able to support him with muscle aches and pains as direct contact with the muscle areas would have been too painful. I was also able to stimulate the lymphatic system to remove toxins and flow due to his immobility at a time of increased fatigue. We still use reflexology now to support his endocrine system.
How to choose the right reflexologist for me?
What is very important when considering reflexology is the relationship between yourself and the reflexologist you choose. I believe that is very important to feel that the person you wish to provide you with reflexology makes you feel comfortable and safe. It should not be a clinical experience. You as the client should feel that you can be open, comfortable and relaxed enough to release stress, concerns or worry. You should feel warm comfortable and in a safe environment, preferably where you will not be disturbed. Your session should not feel hurried and you should feel that you are held in a space of trust by your therapist.
Spend time chatting to a Reflexologist about your needs and always trust intuition. talk to them about their experience and knowledge and understanding. At the end of the day, it is an important service for which you could gain many benefits, so it must 'feel' right.
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