Do you know about Reflexology?
Get out those oils and start rubbing those hands and feet – World Reflexology week starts on Monday. What better time to look at how this natural therapy might be able to help you with some of your pregnancy symptoms such as swollen ankles, morning sickness, insomnia, anxiety and pelvic pain.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a complimentary therapy that is used to treat symptoms all over your body using only pressure from your fingertips on your feet (and sometimes hands). It’s far more than a lovely foot massage as it’s based on the belief that your feet map your body, with pressure points linking to corresponding organs and tissues.
For instance your big left toe represents the left side of your head and a point around the ball of your right foot represents your right lung.
How does it work?
Many women claim that reflexology has helped them and the therapy is supported by many professional bodies (the European Journal of General Practice for starters) but it’s important to know that there is currently no reliable scientific evidence of the benefits of reflexology for pregnant women.
There are four key theories about how reflexology works but we still don't know the exact mechanism.
- Nerve impulse theory
Pressing a point on the foot sends a message to the brain and then on to the corresponding part of the body via the nervous system.
- Energy pathways theory
The treatment unblocks energy meridians, the same way acupuncture does.
- Relaxation theory
The treatment relaxes the patient, easing a lot of pain, discomfort and illness caused by stress or exhaustion.
- Placebo theory
The psychological effect of believing this treatment works can ease many symptoms, as in all natural therapies (and many clinical trials!)
Key benefits of reflexology
There are dozens of ways reflexology can help you – here’s just a few:
- Boosts your energy levels
- Increases your circulation
- Helps you relax
- Reduces headaches
- Eliminates toxins
- Speeds up healing
- Eases pain (helps with pelvic pain in pregnancy)
- Helps fight insomnia
All you need to know about using it in pregnancy
As with all complementary therapies, you should speak to your midwife if you are thinking of trying reflexology while you’re pregnant.
It’s reassuring to know that reflexology doesn’t involve taking anything into the body that might affect the developing baby unlike some other forms of natural therapies. And the fact that you can sit or lie in a position that is comfortable for you during the massage is a real plus too.
While reflexology is generally considered to be safe, some people may experience side effects such as feeling light-headed, emotional, or very tired. Some reflexologists won’t carry out any treatment during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy due to concern that it could cause contractions. There isn’t any evidence that reflexology can induce labour however.
Generally, if you make sure you choose a qualified practitioner, the risks are low – although don’t fall into the trap of thinking reflexology is a replacement for a visit to your doctors when your symptoms are bad.
There’s loads to be gained from a reflexology session or two throughout pregnancy though so why not celebrate World Reflexology week and give it a go!
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