Reflexology therapy eases pain, revitalizes body

Katie Tower
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Above, Susan Smith, a certified reflexology therapist in Sackville, applies just the right pressure to a client’s foot during a recent session.

Jessica Brooks enjoys her early-morning runs. Not only does she relish the physical benefits from the daily exercise but she also appreciates how refreshed and energetic it makes her feel as she starts her day.

“It really wakes me up,” says Brooks.

So when she began getting shin splints a few months ago and also started experiencing pains in the back of her leg muscles, she began to worry about how she would continue her morning routine.

“When I was running, I was getting to the point where I had to stop and take breaks all the time because it was hurting so bad . . . it was depressing,” she says.

The Sackville woman turned to a chiropractor and tried physiotherapy for relief; and although it helped a little, she says it simply wasn’t enough.

That’s when she discovered reflexology therapy. Brooks had heard about a woman who had recently opened a clinic right here in Sackville and was looking for new clients.

“I wasn’t really sure what it was all about . . . but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.”

She called for an appointment and began treatments soon after. It didn’t take long to start seeing results.

“Within the first couple of weeks, I noticed a difference,” says Brooks, who says she is now back to her regular running routine with no pain and the shin splints gone – just over a month later. She is also able to sleep better at night thanks to the lessened aches and pains.

Reflexology therapist Susan Smith, who is the first to offer this type of service in the Sackville area, says just about everyone can benefit from reflexology – it can help to alleviate headaches, reduce arthritic and back pain, ease premenstrual discomforts, reduce diabetes symptoms, give support during addiction withdrawals, and is extremely effective in lowering stress levels, among others. Simply put, reflexology can improve your overall health and well-being.

An ancient practice, reflexology is based on the premise that, by applying pressure to specific points and areas on the feet or hands, which correspond to different organs and systems throughout the body, reflexologists are able to stimulate a response that helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.

“The endocrine system, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the reproductive system . . . they all get treated,” Smith explains.

She says every gland and organ in your body is reflected in your feet, so by applying pressure to different areas of the feet with specific techniques, it stimulates reflexes that help the body start self-correcting.

Millions of people around the world use reflexology to complement other treatments when addressing conditions such as anxiety, asthma, cancer treatment, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, headaches, kidney function, PMS, and sinusitis.

For Sackville’s Susan Cole, it was the constant discomfort associated with her fibromyalgia that caused her to seek out reflexology treatments. Intermittent pain all over her body, particularly in her back and her feet, were resulting in increased fatigue and stress levels. Her doctor had suggested she give reflexology a try to see if it would help alongside the other traditional medical routes she was taking.

The therapy proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

“I’ll tell you, it really did help,” says Cole, who says the therapy not only eased some of the pain in the conflicted areas but also helped lessen pain she had been having in her shoulders and reduced her headaches.

The practice of reflexology does not come without its naysayers, however. As with any alternative or holistic medicine, concerns have been raised about its efficacy in treating potentially serious illnesses.

Smith points out, however, that reflexology is not meant to completely replace traditional medical care, particularly when it comes to chronic or acute conditions. But it can serve as a very beneficial complementary treatment, she says, and is a viable and proven approach to improving a person’s overall health – by reducing stress, releasing tension, improving circulation and increasing energy.

Smith says reflexology, in fact, has been used in Europe for many years and the health care system throughout the UK employs reflexologists in various departments to help with stress and pain management.

Cole says it’s understandable why so many people would turn to reflexology.

“If anything, I think it’s really good for stress and other things than can have an impact on your health . . . it’s just a very relaxing treatment,” she says.

Smith, who received her training at the Atlantic School of Reflexology and became a certified therapist this spring, says she loves the hands-on approach used in reflexology care and feels that people can learn a lot about themselves through treatments. Conditions they may have never known they had can come to light sometimes through more awareness of the body’s systems and functions.

Jocelyn Ollerhead, who recently underwent therapy sessions with Smith, says reflexology is “something you have to experience to appreciate.”

“If you open your mind and allow yourself the opportunity to embrace this ancient form of healing, the benefits can be tremendous to your physical and/or mental well-being,” she says. “Many discount the impact or benefit of reflexology or therapeutic touch without ever allowing themselves the chance to experience it.”

Ollerhead says her first visit was more out of curiosity than necessity but she ended up getting more out of the treatments than she ever expected.

“After better understanding the merits of reflexology and reflecting on how I feel after each session, I now look at reflexology as an important strategy or tool to improve my overall well-being. It is an integral part of a clean living plan that includes drinking plenty of water, regular exercise, and a healthy diet”

Organizations: Atlantic School of Reflexology

Geographic location: Sackville, Europe, UK

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