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Natural Therapies - Reflexology A photo of a foot being massaged

Regina Curley is a qualified massage therapist and stress management educator. She has also trained in reflexology, Indian head massage, reiki and aromatherapy, and Ayurvedic treatments. She teaches postgraduate courses to trained therapists and runs a practice in Tallaght, Co Dublin.

Reflexology is one of the ancient arts thought to date back 5000 years. It is believed to have originated in China, India and parts of the orient. When the tomb of Ankhmahor, a famous Egyptian physician, was discovered pictorial evidence of foot treatments and other complementary treatments were found depicted on the walls of the tomb.

Reflexology is a foot treatment where points on the feet that relate to organs or systems in the body when contacted with alternate pressure, encourage those organs or systems to operate more efficiently. The most important benefit is probably that it reduces stress, a real help when today 85% of all illness has its origin in stress.

Reflexology involves a consultation on meeting the client. Shoes and socks are removed and feet examined. Colour, temperature, hard skin or blemishes on the feet give us information about the general health of the client.

The feet are divided into zones: ten longitudinal, five on each foot and three horizontal, one underneath the toes where the joint meets the foot, one across the arch and one across the heel.

The zones are used to measure the location of the organs and systems in the body. For clients who present with sinus pain, the sinus areas are on the tips of the toes on each foot. The shoulder area/ridge is under the little toes and the shoulder reflex is on the top of the foot in between the fourth and fifth toes.

We use the spine area for pain relief and that’s along the inside of the foot from the big toe to the boney prominence near the heel. We also give clients self-care work to do on hands between treatments, as the reflexes are mirrored on the hands. You can do quite a lot of work while watching TV!

I was trained with talc/cornflour on my hands while manipulating the feet and applying a foot cream to finish. There are different schools of thought on what medium should be used, but the treatment is still effective regardless. The course of treatments recommended is one a week for six weeks to start with and then one every month for maintenance after that. The treatment lasts approximately one hour.

Reflexology encourages restful sleep, improves circulation which in turn improves elimination, is excellent during pregnancy and labour too. (I have lots of healthy reflexology babies in my photograph album!) It allows the body to return to internal homeostasis – releasing the body to do the all-important work of healing itself.

*Reflexology is not recommended for women in the first trimester of pregnancy.

CASE CONFIDENTIAL: Reflexology solved my sinus problems

‘Ruth’ is 50 and from Wexford

When I was in my mid-30s I had really terrible sinus problems and it used to stop me sleeping properly because I couldn’t breathe. I had heard about reflexology so decided to give it a go. I went to see Regina and she recommended six sessions over six weeks to start off. Sessions cost about €50 now.

Regina showed me a map of the feet and how individual organs correspond to parts of the feet. I found the sessions really relaxing and after a few weeks the pain between my eyes, which had been debilitating at times, began to subside. This gave me more energy, my skin was clearer and my sleeping was much improved because my sinuses had cleared and I could breathe properly.

Reflexology really helped my sinus problem, but what’s great is that it also settled a digestive issue I had as well as a recurring shoulder pain. While I was seeing Regina I also began to think about my diet and cut down on dairy and sugar, which has helped my digestion too. After the six weekly sessions I saw Regina every so often for a top-up treatment. I loved it so much that I trained to become a reflexologist myself.

Regina Curley can be contacted at reginamcurley@gmail.com

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