Reflexology is a subtle, yet powerful therapy that treats the whole person rather than just the symptoms of illness or disease. This complementary, holistic treatment offers a therapeutic calming touch to people living with cancer at all stages from diagnosis onwards.
Reflexology is a type of pressure-point massage based on the ancient belief that there are certain areas on the hands, feet, face and ears connected to specific organs and glands in your body. In this way, these parts of the body can be seen as a ‘map’ of the body. Applying pressure and soothing techniques to these areas can have a healing effect on the relevant organs and assist the body’s self-healing ability. This is achieved by restoring energy flow that may have been blocked due to stress, toxins, illness, emotions or injury.
Many people living with cancer are facing an uncertain future and experience feelings of fear, anxiety or isolation. Reflexology can help relieve these feelings, relieve pain and improve overall health and wellbeing.
Meet the team
Amanda’s first encounter with reflexology was in 2003 when she was receiving treatments for her own chronic neck pain. Her love of reflexology and experiencing its amazing benefits led her to undertake a Diploma of Reflexology, becoming a qualified reflexologist in 2012. Amanda continues to add to her knowledge having studied Facial Reflexology, Oncology Reflexology and Maternity Reflexology and is currently studying Aromatherapy.
With reflexology, Amanda works to help patients manage symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment to help improve feelings of wellbeing and quality of life. She has witnessed patients receiving reflexology become relaxed enough to allow them to achieve restful sleep and let go of their feelings of anxiety and stress at least for the period of time they spend with her.
Gretel knows first-hand the power of reflexology as a supportive treatment. In 2004 she had her thyroid removed and struggled with her energy levels despite her daily medications. Out of personal interest, she undertook a 12 week introductory course in reflexology which included a short weekly reflexology treatment. At the end of the fourth class she realised she suddenly had an abundance of renewed energy and this was the turning point for her, leading her to undertake further studies.
Gretel has worked as a volunteer reflexologist as part of a cranio-sacral reflexology research program conducted on the cancer patients at Jacaranda Lodge at The San Hospital in Wahroonga.
For Gretel this experience highlighted three key understandings, that reflexology:
- is a clinical treatment that positively affects all the organs and glands in the body;
- positively affects emotional states and as a consequence improves the results of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy;
- offers patients comfort to their spirit, soothes their anxieties and provides the energy that they need to manage their symptoms.
“I have personally treated many people over the years who have had the successful removal of a cancer, who are currently in remission or are undergoing treatment as well as those managing terminal symptoms. Having a multi-faceted approach to a person’s wellbeing is important and reflexology can offer a means of relaxing and calming the patient by therapeutic touch” says Gretel.
As well as treating patients in one-on-one settings in her practice, Gretel has also conducted natural therapies training workshops for the corporate community.
At your first session, your reflexology practitioner will talk to you about your medical history and about the symptoms you are currently experiencing. Your practitioner will determine the best approach for you based on the information you provide, so it really helps for you to be as honest and open as you can be.
To begin your treatment, you’ll be asked to take off your shoes and sit down or lie back on a comfortable chair or couch. Your therapist will probably begin by gently massaging your ears, looking for signs of sensitivity which can signal that certain areas of your body need extra attention during the session. Following this, your therapist will focus on your feet and hands, possibly using a fragrant balm. Your feet and hands will receive an all-over treatment, then your therapist will start working on the specific points that relate to your internal health issues.
Let your practitioner know if you are uncomfortable or start to feel any pain during your reflexology session. The sensitivity of the feet varies from person to person, and your practitioner can adapt the massage so that you don’t feel any discomfort.
Numerous studies have shown that the soothing touch used in reflexology can help:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Increase relaxation
- Increase energy and mental alertness
- Reduce pain
- Relieve chronic and acute conditions and injuries
- Improve sleep
- Stimulate creativity and productivity
- Enhance overall quality of life
- Improve circulation
- Reduce toxicity
- Improve immunity
- Increase body awareness
Many people who use reflexology find it helps to improve their general sense of wellbeing, as well as reducing muscle tension and encouraging relaxation.
Reflexology and pain
Reflexology in combination with conventional pain medications has been shown to have a positive effect on post-operative pain, more so than pain relievers alone.
High levels of post-operative pain is often associated with high levels of anxiety so the soothing, calming touch of reflexology treatments may contribute to pain relief by reducing anxiety levels, thereby reducing sensitivity to or awareness of pain.
Are there any risks?
Reflexology has very few contraindications and is generally a safe and effective treatment to be given during the course of cancer treatments.
- Clinical Reflexology: A Guide for Integrated Practice by Denise Tiran and Dr Peter Mackereth
- Reflexology: The Definitive Practitioner’s Manual by Beryl Crane
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