In our Winter 2020/21 issue, Maureen O’Callaghan, director of the Irish Reflexology Institute, spoke to us about the benefits of reflexology as a healing practice. Read her insightful piece below!
The benefits of reflexology
by Maureen O’Callaghan
The practice of reflexology dates back to ancient times, and as a practitioner, I have seen, at first hand, the benefits of this treatment. Reflexology deals with the principle that there are reflexes in the feet and hands, which correspond to all of the glands and organs in the body. The physical act of applying pressure to the feet with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques – based on a system of zones and areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet – encourages the body’s natural healing ability. Reflexology is a holistic therapy, which means the application of a reflexology treatment has a positive impact on the whole person.
Some of these benefits may include reducing inflammation, improving circulation and inducing relaxation. Reflexology has been shown to provide beneficial effects in the management of a number of conditions: back pain, migraine, infertility, and arthritis, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, sports injuries, and digestive disorders and stress related conditions. The feet and hands are often referred to as a ‘mirror of the body.’
I have been thrilled to witness the benefits of reflexology as a holistic practice for our clients, who often undergo transformative healing in their life after a series of treatments. In chronic cases, where there are long term health conditions, the underlying issues need to be addressed. This is where reflexology is invaluable, as it gets to the root of the issue during the course of treatment. Often, positive life changes are required to restore balance which, in turn, will ensure homeostasis in the body.
A reflexology treatment lasts for approximately one hour. As it is the feet which are generally treated, you simply remove your socks and shoes, and are invited to sit or lie on a comfortable treatment chair or couch. The reflexologist will then use their hands to apply precise pressure techniques to the feet: treating specific points which correspond to all organs and systems of the body.
Following the treatment, any significant findings will be discussed with you. As the effects of reflexology are cumulative, many people find it beneficial to continue with regular treatments.
In order to gain maximum benefit from your reflexology treatment, try to rest and take things easy, as this helps to boost the body’s natural healing abilities. Increasing the amount of water you drink can help to flush the toxins out of your system, thereby aiding the detoxifying process. Just listen to your body and put aside time to relax. After one or two treatments, your body may respond in a very definite way.
The Irish Reflexologists’ Institute (IRIL) was originally founded in 1988 by Martina Barrett and Roisin Carroll, for the purposes of providing a professional body to support the work of all trained reflexologists in Ireland, including Northern Ireland. Today, that same ethos holds sway. It remains a not-for-profit professional body, run by reflexologists, that works for its members to ensure excellent standards are maintained in the field of Reflexology.
It also offers a support network for members, and is recognised as an adjunct health treatment by all the major health insurance companies. When recent global circumstances presented a challenge to reflexologists returning to work, the IRIL provided all members with detailed guidelines and recommendations to assist reflexologists to return to giving treatments to clients, in a manner that ensured the highest standards of safety for both therapist and client.
Maureen O Callaghan
Irish Reflexology Institute