FROM REFLEXES TO REFLEXOLOGY
HOW DOES REFLEXOLOGY AFFECT YOUR PERFORMANCE?
Reflexology is the study and clinical practice of releasing imbalances that are being held in the reflexes of the body. The Reflexes in our body let us know when something in the external environment is impacting in a way that stimulates a change in our internal environment. The definition of a reflex is “an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus”.
To clarify this a more detailed explanation of the medical concept of the Reflex can be found at the end of this blog.
As reflexologists, we know that the body reacts to external stimuli in many different ways and imbalances occur when our response is not relaxed enough to manage the change. Our bodies are an amazing multi-faceted design system with the most intricate balancing mechanisms . When our body learns how to respond well to the environment it is able to maintain its own healthy balance.
Reflexology assists the body cells to release imbalances and learn new pathways towards wellbeing. Through this process and healthy lifestyle practices, the body is enabled to work at an optimal capacity. After an initial period of weekly sessions, where pressure points are stimulated to help eliminate long held tensions that have been held in the reflexes, fortnightly, then monthly reflexology maintenance treatments are all that is needed to encourage the body to maintain balance. The body learns how, through release and relaxation, to respond well to its environment.
When I was young, one of the first symptoms, doctors would check for was reflex reactions. By tapping on your knee, the doctor could tell if your body responded well to external impacts. If your knee moved, your reflexes were seen to be working well. If not, then there was perceived to be some form of imbalance. Doctors were aware of the importance of reflexes for understanding health and wellbeing.
The idea of Reflexology itself was initiated by an ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr William Fitzgerald, who found that putting pressure on certain points of the body enabled him to perform small operations without anaesthetics. Over time these points became identified as key pressure points on the feet, hands and ears, now identified on reflexology charts the world over. (http://reflexologyinstitute.com/reflex_fitzgerald.php)
Knowing the body is constantly working to maintain balance throughout all of its circulatory systems, whether it be respiratory, endocrinal, neural, lymphatic or excretory, reflexologists aim to assist the body with these processes. Combined with a wellbeing consultation reflexology clients reap the benefits of a more balanced lifestyle.
To maintain balance the body has to be in a steady state known as homeostasis. When it is out of balance we begin to feel pain. Pain occurs in many different forms. It can be external and sudden in the form of heat, pressure, knocks or accidents or internal in the form of relational stress whether that be mental or emotional. If stress is continuous, we begin to see internal effects in the form of inflammation of the muscles, joints, organs and tissues.
Inflammation occurs over a period of time and often goes unnoticed until pain occurs. Mental exertion, emotional reaction or physical strain cause stress to the body. During stress filled moments, muscles contract. If stress occurs over a lengthy period of time muscles can become over-contracted leading to wear, tear and pain on all levels. Imagine a rubber band that is constantly stretched, eventually it loses its elasticity. We put stress into our body too often, eventually we will feel pain on all levels; physically, emotionally, mentally. By this time these personality levels become disconnected, we have also lost our elasticity and ability to be able to think with clarity. As our energy becomes clogged and fatigued we also lose higher abilities to think intuitively and outside the square.
Repeated stressful experiences lead to a conditioning of the nervous and muscular systems which cause the body to become limited in movement. The body then loses its ability to function at optimal capacity. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, heart problems, fibromyalgia, arthritis and lymphoedema are all the result of conditioned reflexes. Conditioning caused by stressors to the body lead to much pain and discomfort.
Having had an elderly client with swelling in her feet I was pleased to see the swelling gone the second time she came to me and the positive effect this had on her lifestyle for being able to walk again. Here we see a client in the UK talking about the results of reflexology on her lymphoedema treatment
Menopause is a condition that is impacted by changing hormones in the body. As the body adjusts to hormonal chemical changes it can respond with a variety of symptoms that differ from client to client. These can include but are not limited to hot flushes, emotional mood swings, lethargy and stomach conditions such as bloating or constipation.
I have clients who have had remarkable improvements to these and similar conditions in their initial weekly treatments. When conditions like these improve, the ability to function at optimal capacity again gives peace and clarity of mind to all concerned. Ongoing monthly treatments then enable the body to maintain it’s own healthy balance. Being relaxed and revitalised brings balance and joy back into our lives.
A full treatment working the feet, hands and ears gives the physical, emotional and mental fields the maximum time to rebalance and become revitalised. Allowing an hour and half to two hours the body is also encouraged to fully relax, a state that often isn’t available to us with our busy lifestyle schedules. Most reflexology clients find a weekly one hour treatment session leads to a revitalised, relaxed body and mind. For those with less time available a half hour session opens the door to initiate changes that lead to improvements in wellbeing.
Through the reflexology rebalancing and relaxing process, the body begins to learn there is a new way to function. This leads to release of tension in the physical body, clarity of mind functioning, and better emotional responses to the world and those around you. An individual functioning in a healthy way leads to healthier relationships. In the workplace, this can lead to much improved team work and an ability to function as a well grounded and clear thinking innovative group. For my clients just being able to think with more clarity is energising and revitalising.
The Reflex (excerpt from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/reflexes)
A reflected action or movement; the sum total of any particular automatic response mediated by the nervous system. A reflex is built into the nervous system and does not need the intervention of conscious thought to take effect. The knee jerk is an example of the simplest type of reflex. When the knee is tapped, the nerve that receives this stimulus sends an impulse to the spinal cord, where it is relayed to a motor nerve. This causes the quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh to contract and jerk the leg up. This reflex, or simple reflex arc, involves only two nerves and one synapse. The leg begins to jerk up while the brain is just becoming aware of the tap. Other simple reflexes, the stretch reflexes, help the body maintain its balance. Every time a muscle is stretched, it reacts with a reflex impulse to contract. As a person reaches or leans, the skeletal muscles tense and tighten, tending to hold him and keep him from falling. Even in standing still, the stretch reflexes in the skeletal muscles make many tiny adjustments to keep the body erect. The “hot stove” reflex is more complex, calling into play many different muscles. Before the hand is pulled away, an impulse must go from the sensory nerve endings in the skin to a center in the spinal cord, from there to a motor center, and then out along the motor nerves to shoulder, arm, and hand muscles. Trunk and leg muscles respond to support the body in its sudden change of position, and the head and eyes turn to look at the cause of the injury. All this happens while the person is becoming aware of the burning sensation. A reflex that protects the body from injury, as this one does, is called a nociceptive reflex. Sneezing, coughing, and gagging are similar reflexes in response to foreign bodies in the nose and throat, and the wink reflex helps protect the eyes from injury. A conditioned reflex is one acquired as the result of experience. When an action is done repeatedly the nervous system becomes familiar with the situation and learns to react automatically, and a new reflex is built into the system. Walking, running, and typewriting are examples of activities that require large numbers of complex muscle coordinations that have become automatic.
The diagram found in this link is a Nerve pathway of a simple reflex. When the sensory nerve ending is stimulated, a nerve impulse travels along a sensory (afferent) neuron to the spinal cord. Here an association neuron transfers the impulse to a motor (efferent) neuron. The motor neuron carries the impulse to a muscle, which contracts and moves a body part.