What is Reflexology?

Many, many, moons ago when I was at drama school, I suffered from a particularly bad bout of insomnia. So, I trotted off to my local doctor hoping for boxes and boxes of sleeping tablets. He point-blank refused, saying I ought to try reflexology first before he would even consider writing a prescription. I left slightly annoyed, as I didn’t even know what it was! As luck would have it, I found a reflexologist a few doors down from my home, so I booked a session, still none the wiser. Wow. This tiny lady in her seventies lay me on a couch for an hour and applied quite firm pressure to various points of my feet with her hands, all the while gentle music was playing in the background. I still remember that first session, and the effect it had on me as though it were yesterday. I stumbled home, collapsed on the sofa and woke up the next morning. Incredible. As it was so effective in helping me sleep, I continued to have regular treatments over the years until finally the fascination became overwhelming and I decided to train as a reflexologist myself around fifteen years ago. 

There are indications that some type of reflexology has been evolving since around two thousand BC. However, as we know it in the West, reflexology has been around for about a hundred years, thanks to a wonderful woman called Eunice Ingham. Working with a physiotherapist called Dr Fitzgerald, Eunice was exploring something called ‘Zone Therapy’ when she started to explore the links between parts of the feet and parts of the body. She discovered that by applying pressure to certain points on people’s feet, she could alleviate all manner of physical symptoms. And that, in a nutshell, is Reflexology. Eunice worked continuously on creating a map of the body for each foot until she passed away at the age of eighty-five. 

Up until around twenty years ago, reflexology was primarily still regarded as a treatment for relaxation and was usually only found being offered in spas or beauty salons. Today it is becoming more and more recognised as providing incredible health benefits too. I have seen many people over the years who were quite frankly amazed as they reduced their various medications and have seen people relieved of migraines, back pain, sinus troubles etc that have been plaguing them for years. It still astounds me to this day how effective it is. So much so I continue to have weekly treatments myself. 

There are now people out there doing invaluable research in order to prove scientifically how reflexology works. I have been fortunate enough to study under some of these luminaries. Dr Jesus Manzanares for example is a surgeon in Barcelona who also performs and researches reflexology. He has over ten-thousand case studies, has taken numerous biopsies from various feet, and has even measured brain activity during treatments. All of this in order to help learn more about exactly what is going on inside the body when the forty-thousand nerve endings in your feet are stimulated. 

My personal take on reflexology lies in between the relaxation side and the medical side. I think both uses are completely valid. Now well into my second decade as a reflexologist, I treat many people with severe health issues, such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease, and I also see people for who taking an hour out of their busy day, with no phone calls to make or emails to answer, is the highlight of their week as they drift off into a state of bliss, gentle music soothing their mind, my firm hands soothing their body. I have treated children as young as five, and adults as old as ninety-nine. I see people from all walks of life, from manual labourers to members of Parliament, and continue to learn as I go. In fact, later this week I am attending a seminar given by Tony Porter, a man whose work with Hagar Basis changed the way I look at reflexology forever. 

People often refer to reflexology as an ‘alternative’ therapy. For me, reflexology is a complementary health practice, to be used in conjunction with traditional methods such as medicine, not an alternative. And just so you know, no reflexologist has the power to diagnose. A good reflexologist may pick up on underlying health issues you had no idea were there, but in order for you to be sure, they will refer you to a specialist.  Even though reflexology undoubtedly provides numerous health benefits, I firmly believe that allowing yourself to relax is the key to a good session. It is well documented how important touch is for our physical and mental health, and as a consequence, more and more people are turning to masseurs and reflexologists to help them shake off the stresses and strains of daily life. And with twenty twenty-one looking remarkably similar to twenty-twenty, sadly, now more than ever. 

If you think reflexology might be for you, feel free to call me for an informal chat on 7900 1238.

Benjamin Milton

Benjamin is a writer and actor who spends his time pirouetting between London and Malta. He was inexplicably drawn to the silver screen at a young age, and has seen more films than have been made. He will talk of nothing else given half a chance, so be prepared if you bump into him at Geo F Trumper in St. James having his moustache trimmed. His biggest indulgence is his fine collection of New & Lingwood silk dressing gowns, which is growing at an alarming rate. He looks fabulous in them

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