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Before I contact a Reflexologist, what should I know and what can I expect during a Session?

Reflexology is for all ages. Adults, babies and young children alike will benefit from the art of Reflexology. Of course as babies and young children rarely have the patience for a whole treatment, their sessions are modified and shortened.

A Reflexology session begins with the Reflexologist conducting a brief health history and explaining how Reflexology works and what happens during a session. You will be informed that Reflexology does not treat specific illness and is not a substitute for medical treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form. Remember that it is okay, and even expected, for you to ask questions. You should feel comfortable communicating with the Reflexologist. If the Reflexologist is not forthcoming with information, or is dismissive of questions or concerns, this could be a “red flag,” and you have every right to terminate the appointment.

If the Reflexologist chooses to work on your feet, you will lie or sit down, remaining fully clothed except for your shoes and socks. The Reflexolgist may wash your feet and soak them in warm water, then position them at his or her chest level.

The Reflexologist will start by assessing your feet for open wounds, rashes, sores, plantar warts or bunions and will ask you about any foot or leg pain that could hinder treatment. Open wounds will be avoided and he/she may choose to wear plastic gloves or not treat areas that are compromised.

Regardless of your health condition(s) the Reflexologist focuses on the entire pattern of the foot, generally starting at the toes and working down, watching for sensitivities and tight or hard areas along the way. If you, the client, have a specific condition, the Reflexologist will keep this in mind and carefully feel and work the area corresponding to your condition. For example, if you are suffering from migraines, the migraine points on the toes will be assessed for congestion or tension and carefully and mindfully worked, while still working all other areas of the foot. According to Reflexology, this allows the nerve pathways and congestion to release, promoting the relaxation response of the entire body.

If the Reflexologist finds congestion or areas of pain during a treatment, specific pressure will be applied to work on the points to restore a “free flow” along the nerve pathways in the area of the body affected. To “release pain” is not the goal. The goal is to bring the whole body into balance so the pain can subside naturally. The Reflexologist stimulates the nervous system to do the work, it is not the therapist who “fixes” it.

During treatment an individual may experience various physical or emotional sensations, such as a general relaxation, a cooling and warming, a “lightness” or tingling in the body, a sense of becoming “energized”, as well as a sense of “opening,” or “energy moving” from where pressure is being applied to certain organs or areas of the body. The temperature changes and lightness commonly resolve quickly, while the affect on energy can last for days after treatment. Other short-lived reactions can include sweating hands or feet, a “chilling” sensation, a light-headedness, coughing, laughing, crying, thirst and having an overwhelming desire to sleep or sigh deeply. It should be remembered that some pain may be felt when the Reflexologist assesses the body’s balance by working the pattern of the foot, which can, although seldom, lead to muscle contractions causing some level of discomfort.

Generally, sessions last between 30-60 minutes. You can rest or talk during the session at your discretion. If you fall asleep during the session, you will still receive the benefits of the treatment. Feedback during the session is encouraged, and of course, you can request that a treatment be stopped at any time.

Things you should know

While Reflexology is extremely safe, it is important to be aware of a few contraindications or existing circumstances where Reflexology should very carefully be applied or not at all. A fully trained professional Reflexologist is qualified to make the determination.

Contraindications are:

with foot fractures, unhealed wounds, active gout, osteoarthritis that impacts the foot or ankle and with vascular disease of the legs or feet. With these conditions, consult primary health care provider prior to seeking out Foot Reflexology. An acceptable alternative would be Reflexology on the hands and/or ears.
with an awareness of a recent or current thrombus. Reflexology with this condition should be avoided, since reflex therapy improves circulation and could potentially cause a clot to move.
during early pregnancy (the first 6 weeks) select a Reflexologist well versed in Reflexology application during maternity. Reflexology sessions are generally altered by treating the uterine and ovarian reflex points very gently or by avoiding them altogether. Throughout the entire pregnancy, caution must be exercised as stimulating certain points may cause contractions. Pregnancy related conditions where Reflexology is not recommended are Pre-term labor, Preeclampsia or Toxemia of Pregnancy, Deep vein thrombosis, Placenta previa, Hellp syndrome and Hydramnios.
If you are using other touch therapies, allow at least 48 hours between sessions to avoid “overloading” yourself.

Finding the right Reflexologist

It is important to remember that Reflexologists do not diagnose, prescribe or ‘heal” specific diseases. The Reflexologist knows that the purpose of his/her work is to help realign the body, so it can effectively utilize its own energy and natural healing ability. As with any professional, you’ll want to do your homework before choosing a Reflexologist. Your goal is to find a Reflexologist who is professionally trained, as opposed to someone who has just had a brief introduction (such as a weekend workshop) and think they have mastered the techniques of Reflexology. Be sure to ask about their training. You want an experienced Reflexologist, because it takes a lot of practice to build sensitivities in the fingers and to be able to munipulate the flow of the body’s energy. Those who have been properly trained and know the art of touch will provide a lasting and beneficial treatment.

Choose a Reflexologist that holds a membership in a provincial and/or national Association. The Reflexology Association of Canada (RAC) and RAC-BC requires that all practicing Therapists are trained to specific standards and they conduct themselves professionally, adhering to a strict code of ethics and conduct.

One other important subject to explore is your payment options prior to committing to treatment. Reflexology is typically fee-for-service. Group Health Insurance or extended benefits generally do not cover the services of a Reflexologist. Check with your employer or your insurance provider to confirm coverage.