The demand for reflexology, also known as zone therapy, has increased in the UK, which is why there’s no better time than now to look at how reflexology could enhance your salon or spa business.
The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) says that reflexology is “based on the principle that reflex points on the soles, tops and sides of the feet correspond to different areas of the body – seen as a ‘map’. By applying specialised massage techniques to specific reflex points… it can help restore balance to the body naturally and improve clients’ general wellbeing”.
Reflexologist Anna Wintle-Pike, who has more than 15 years’ experience delivering the treatment, gives us the lowdown on how it works and how to successfully incorporate it into your menu.
“Reflexology can provide an incredible experience with a multitude of benefits,” she says. “We’ve seen increased interest in reflexology in the salon I work in – Beauty Time in Bristol – which is largely due to the stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the current strain on the NHS, which means clients are seeking holistic alternatives to manage their symptoms.”
Where does reflexology originate from?
“The art of hand and foot therapy has been practised for thousands of years, with the ancient Egyptians thought to have treated the feet daily for medicinal purposes. Yet, reflexology, as we call it today, only made its way to the UK in the ’60s,” says Wintle-Pike.
“Physiotherapist Eunice Ingham was studying the work of Dr William Fitzgerald on ‘zone therapy’ – an early form of reflexology – when she began to mark body parts and organs on the feet in a technique she termed ‘foot mapping’, and thus, modern reflexology was born.”
The treatment comprises massage and stimulation of ‘reflex points’ found on the hands and feet, using special finger and thumb techniques “with the aim of relieving stress and promoting healing in the body” she says. “The treatment was met with some scepticism when Doreen Bayley, a student of Ingham’s, began practising it in the UK – a viewpoint some people still have today.”
How does the treatment work?
Reflexology can be performed on the feet or hands if the client wishes, and each session lasts approximately one hour.
Wintle-Pike says clients would feel the benefit from a one-off session, but that a course will offer the best results.
“While we certainly know that reflexology works, there is still some uncertainty regarding exactly how it works. One theory explains that it works by clearing blockages found along the meridians – energy pathways – that run longitudinally throughout the body,” she says.“Blockages can feel spongy, poppy, gritty or crunchy on the feet and hands, and are made up of calcium deposits.
With each treatment these deposits get broken down into smaller parts and eventually get swept away.”
Clearing the blockages restores homeostasis (balance) in the body, while giving the client more energy. “I often use the analogy of looking after your car when explaining the protocol to clients – if you service a vehicle regularly, it will perform better and be less deposits get broken down likely to break down, into smaller parts and and this is the same in terms of your body and reflexology,” she adds.
Clients can remain fully clothed with only the feet exposed and it can be performed anywhere. It doesn’t require equipment and minimal product is needed, making it a profitable treatment to add to your menu.
What are the health benefits?
“Blockages can feel
SPONGY, POPPY, GRITTY OR CRUNCHY.
These EVENTUALLY GET SWEPT AWAY”
“After a reflexology treatment, clients often describe to me that they feel ‘cleansed’ and ‘lighter’,” says Wintle-Pike. “Aches and pains seem to ease and every client without exception feels a sense of calm.” The treatment also offers many physiological benefits, she explains, including:
• Improved circulation, which in turn increases oxygen and promotes healing
•A more efficient elimination of toxins
• Reduction in stress and anxiety, boosting the body’s immunity and ability to heal
• Improved sleep quality.
On a wellbeing level, Wintle-Pike says clients can also see an improvement in:
• Productivity/ self-confidence
• Energy levels (due to a boost in metabolism).
“Under longterm stress we begin to live only in our heads and neglect our bodies. Reflexology brings about an awareness of our entire body and in a time of much-needed self-love – it really is the perfect treatment,” says Wintle-Pike.
“I fell in love with reflexology 15 years ago when I received my first treatment and it’s a passion that has grown ever since. I’m thrilled that the therapy is growing in popularity.”