Therapeutic Reflexology as practised in RSA

Therapeutic reflexology, as an Allied Health therapy, falls into the sub-field ‘Promotive Health and Developmental Services’ it is also applicable in the other sub-fields of Preventive Health, Curative Health and Rehabilitative Health. Therapeutic reflexology is able to be used to meet the preventative, palliative, rehabilitative or maintenances needs of the patient. [SAQA]

Access to public and private health care facilities

Although Therapeutic Reflexology practitioners are qualified to work very closely with all Health Professions in the Allopathic or Medical, Paramedical and Complementary fields access to work in public and private health care facilities are country wide limited. • In some provinces were Therapeutic Reflexologists are working within the public health centers it is done on a purely voluntary basis. • Therapeutic Reflexologist have to rely on private practice and patients requests when in a Hospitals with Private Care.

Therapeutic Reflexology as a Complementary Health Care Profession

The Therapeutic Reflexology treatment is a non-invasive therapy and does not claim to cure disorders, but can be used on its own or alongside conventional medical or alternative health care. It therefore follows a truly complementary approach. See also “Case Studies”. • Cerebral Palsy, mental and physically disabled patients: It has been recorded that when the Reflexology treatments commences, all the other therapies (Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy etc)patients receive are found to increase in effectiveness. • The Stork’s Nest attached to Femina Clinic a private hospital in Pretoria offers private midwifery services. Reflexology service are recognized as a key component in assisting expectant parents with preparation for birth healthy pregnancy and post delivery recovery. In the nursing profession there are a few nurses who are also registered as a therapeutic reflexologist and when treatment is requested by inter alias cancer patientsthey offer therapeutic reflexology as a complementary healthcare.

What can be expected from a therapeutic reflexology treatment?

The Therapeutic Reflexologist may treat or provide treatment for diagnosed disease, illness or deficiencies in humans, signs and symptoms or disease/illness in humans or prevention of disease, illness or deficiencies in humans. It is not a medical treatment nor is it a practice of medicine.

First visit

The therapeutic reflexologist, at the first visit, will ask about medical history, general health, exercise regime, nutrition and lifestyle. Imbalances in the health of the patient are identified by observing the shape of the feet as well as colour, texture, tone, moisture, and markings on the feet and nails are also noted before commencing treatment. This visit could last about 15 minutes longer than subsequent treatments. In some cases the therapeutic reflexologist will give the patient a warm relaxing foot bath or do a biomechanical foot assessment. Signs of emotional and physical wellness (or lack thereof) are observed and noted. Appropriate health care advice is offered, regarding conscious lifestyle choices to facilitate the activation of the body’s healing potential. Where necessary the person may be referred to other health care professionals.

Treatment Techniques

Specific finger and thumb pressure techniques are used on the feet, lower legs, hands, arms, face and or ears to enable therapists to identify and respond to congestion and imbalances, for example, tightness in the chest reflexes [attributable to stress], sensitivity in the bladder reflexes [ possible bladder infection], granular areas in the stomach and colon reflexes [likely constipation] etc. If the therapeutic reflexologist applies firm pressure technique, this will prevent a ‘tickle’ sensation. During the session, different sensations may be experienced in certain reflex areas but the treatment should not be painful nor cause discomfort, but should rather be calming and comforting. There may be a sharp pain, or the feet may feel very sensitive. Sensitivity varies from person to person, and from treatment to treatment. The therapist will adjust the pressure to suit the patient – who should be asked to comment on the sensations that he/she experiences. Treatments are usually completed using gentle massage techniques which will leave the patient relaxed and soothed, thus enhancing the body’s capacity to utilize its natural healing potential.

Duration of treatments

The treatment will generally last about 45 minutes for an average-sized foot. In some cases (such as the very young, the elderly or particular illnesses) shorter treatments over shorter intervals, may be given to avoid over-stimulating the body. When the effects of the treatment have been monitored, sessions can be extended to last between 45 and 60 minutes.

Who can benefit from Reflexology treatments?

• Acute and chronic conditions • Stress related conditions • Children and adults • Sport injuries • Preventative therapy The following benefits or reactions may be derived from a therapeutic reflexology treatment: • In some cases dizziness, nausea, tiredness or headaches may be experienced because of the body cleansing itself of toxin; • sleep patterns can improve as a result of the relaxed state of the body; • skin tone and tissue texture may improve because of improved blood circulation; • stimulation of lymph nodes, kidneys and colon reflexes leads to more effective elimination of toxins caused by pollutants, bad diet, stress, etc; • bodily functions are enhanced due to increase of oxygen levels and nutrient supply to every cell; • reflexology, after surgery, plays an important role as it may help to prevent adhesions forming and aid the healing process; • by reducing tension in the body the nervous system calms and functions more effectively in situations of stress and anxiety (frequently associated with modern illnesses); • physical and emotional tensions, accompanying serious illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, are released and; • treatments and information are offered to encourage informed choices for healthier, more productive and balanced lives, thereby enhancing physical and emotional wellbeing.

Is therapeutic reflexology a safe treatment?

An increasing number of people are using this safe, natural therapy as a way of relaxing, balancing and harmonising the body. Be sure to give the reflexologist a complete and accurate health history. Although reflexology treatment in cases of terminal illness for example cancer, multiple sclerosis and Aids, may not be capable of removing the causes of the illness, it does help with pain relief and makes the patient more comfortable.

Are there any contra indications?

• Therapeutic Reflexology is not contra-indicated for any condition although caution is to be taken under the following circumstances: • Tumors and metastases • Deep vein Thromboses • Broken/fractured bones (in the feet or ankles) while healing