Reflexology and Menopause
Sarah Finlay MIRI is an experienced reflexologist. In this article she explains how reflexology can support a menopausal woman physically, mentally and emotionally. It can help a woman tune into her body’s needs, highlighting imbalances and areas which need attention. It can provide a safe space in which to relax, receive and be self-focused. Having an empathic reflexologist who understands the physical changes behind menopausal symptoms and takes her problems seriously can, in itself, help to relieve stress.
Introduction - What is reflexology?
Dating back to Ancient Egypt, reflexology is the practice of treating reflex points and areas in the feet and hands that relate to corresponding parts of the body. Each organ and structure within the body is linked to the feet by energy channels or meridians. When our physical or emotional health is weakened or compromised by illness or stress, these channels become blocked or congested. Reflexology can be used very effectively to facilitate the free flow of energy and thus restore the body to its more natural state of health and well being.
By applying gentle pressure and using specific techniques and movements, reflexology can both identify and support the areas of the body which are in need of strengthening and healing. Although the feet are more usually treated, the hands may be equally effectively worked with.
The Benefits of Reflexology
Reflexology is suitable for all ages and stages of life and can bring relief to a wide range of both acute and chronic conditions as well as working more preventatively in helping the body to maintain overall health and well-being. Specific conditions which are known to benefit from reflexology include:
- Anxiety and Stress related issues
- Asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis and other respiratory problems
- Back pain and sciatica
- Chronic Fatigue and general exhaustion
- Digestive disorders including irritable bowel, colitis, gastritis and constipation
- Hormonal imbalances
- Immune disorders
- Menopausal symptoms
- Menstrual irregularities including pain levels and PMT
- Pregnancy and post partum symptoms
- Urinary problems
More generally reflexology helps to:
- reduce stress
- promote relaxation
- increase vitality
- improve circulation
- eliminate toxins
- reduce pain levels
- strengthen the immune system
- restore and maintain the body’s natural equilibrium
Menopause and Reflexology
At menopause reflexology works by regulating the hormones and glandular functions of the body. It can help to alleviate and balance both the physical and emotional systems. By working with the hypothalamus and pituitary, reflexology can help to restore balance to the endocrine system. This in turn can alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes as well
and anxiety. By calming the central nervous system, sleep disturbances can also be alleviated and anxiety and stress levels reduced. By regulating calcium and phosphorous levels in the thyroid gland, bone loss can prevented. Reflexology also helps the ovaries to regulate their oestrogen secretions and the uterus to maintain its natural health and flexibility.
Research carried out at the UK School of Complementary Health in Exeter indicates a marked decrease in anxiety, depression, insomnia, hot flushes and night sweats among menopausal women who received regular reflexology over a 4 month period. (see link below for further information)
What can you expect from a treatment?
On your first visit the therapist will conduct a full consultation with you, taking into consideration your past and present health and lifestyle. This enables the treatment to be tailored to your specific needs. You will be invited to remove your socks and shoes and to sit or lie on a comfortable treatment couch. (If you prefer to have just your hands treated, you may sit on a chair or sit or lie on a treatment couch). During the session, which lasts approximately one hour, the reflexologist will massage and apply gentle pressure to the feet and/or hands, treating the whole body as well as paying specific attention to the organs and systems of the body in need of particular care. Individual experiences of the treatment may vary from a general sense of relaxation to sensations of tingling and warmth in parts of or throughout the body.
The effects of reflexology are cumulative and, depending on specific needs and symptoms, a course of treatments is usually recommended. Many people find it beneficial to have 4-6 weekly or fortnightly sessions initially, followed by a more general ‘maintenance’ session every 4-6 weeks.
Sarah originally trained with the Reflexology School of Ireland in 1985 and has since trained in a number of physical therapies including holistic massage, kinesiology, metamorphic technique, shiatsu and reiki. She is also a qualified craniosacral therapist (BCST), specialising in the biodynamic approach, and welcomes the possibility of combining reflexology and craniosacral therapy in the same session. Sarah is a member of the Irish Reflexologists’ Institute which allows clients covered by VHI, Hibernian and Laya Healthcare to claim back on individual treatments.