'Reflexology helps to release stress and tension physically and emotionally'
15th August 2019
Every month we invite a guest expert from Wellness HQ’s specialist directory to talk about their particular field. For August we speak to reflexologist Kathryn Allen about how to put your best foot forward – quite literally - to ensure optimum health
From a career in recruitment to reflexology . . .
My name is Kathryn and I’m a reflexologist based in Tunbridge Wells. My husband and I moved here about five years ago, while I was heavily pregnant with our daughter Isabelle. She is now at primary school and we also have a one year old boy named Benji.
I trained to be a reflexologist back in 2002. I’ve always had a fascination with reflexology as it helped me with my hay fever when I was a teenager.
I realised it was something I wanted to pursue as a career and found a really intensive course. But when I finished all my exams and case studies I realised that aged just 25 I didn’t have enough life experience to work as a complementary therapist.
I decided to temporarily leave the world of reflexology and therefore embarked on a career in recruitment, knowing one day the time would be right to pick reflexology up again. Fast forward to 2015 and after eight years in recruitment and performing reflexology on friends and family, plus getting married and having a baby, I finally felt I had a greater understanding of what life was about and knew I was ready to help others professionally.
Reflexology in a nutshell . . .
Energy lines flow through our body just like a river. If sediment built up across a river, the water would stop flowing and become stagnant. If our own energy flows develop a blockage from stress, physical ailments or negative emotions, our energy will also falter and stagnate. We won’t feel right but reflexologists are able to feel these blockages.
These energy lines end at our feet, our hands and our head, which is why reflexology can be practised on all these areas. I practise on the feet and by feeling any blockages I am able to release them using different massage techniques in order to balance the body’s energy flows and help it to heal itself.
My clients and their needs . . .
I meet men, women, adults and children for a wide range of reasons. Some come just because they love it and want to keep having it. They feel as though it recharges their inner batteries, improves their well-being and releases any stress or tension that may have built up since their last session.
Others come for something specific such as stress, migraines, back pain, digestive issues or pregnancy related concerns. Reflexology can be a great healer. By reducing tension, helping us to sleep, aiding relaxation and lifting our mood it can help improve well-being and our own innate healing abilities.
Each reflexology session is personalised for each client and I feel we work as a team. Sometimes clients don’t want to tell me anything and sometimes it’s everything. The hour we spend together can be fun and light-hearted but it can also be heart-breaking. Each treatment is different.
How reflexology can help with common ailments . . .
The most common problem faced by clients is finding the time to look after themselves. We very rarely put ourselves first and prioritise our own needs and well-being. Work, children and life always seem to get in the way. I find this especially hard when I’m a treating mothers-to-be in the lead-up to labour. After an hour of relaxing reflexology they always say how wonderful and relaxed they feel. But with a new-born entering their lives, they very rarely make it back when they need it the most. Life stresses always put an end to available time.
Our body is on constant standby for certain stress signals to activate our ‘flight or fight’ response. Anxiety, anger, grief, guilt or low self-esteem can all activate the primitive part of our brain if our survival is deemed under threat. Feeling anxious about an exam, looking after a new-born, worrying about money or working long hours can still cause the ‘flight or fight’ response to be triggered. This causes us to experience strong, physical symptoms as our brain activates a rapid response to what we’re feeling or experiencing.
These initial symptoms could be sweating, an increased pulse rate or blood pressure and a change to our digestive system. Today the responses our brain is continuing to activate are causing us more harm than good, as our lives are no longer consistently on the line.
What are the key benefits?
You’d never let your car battery run down or drive on a flat tyre so why do it to yourself? A balanced lifestyle of eating healthily, exercising regularly and thinking positively are all ways to improve your general well-being and they are great ways to help decrease your stress levels.
Reflexology is great for helping a good night’s sleep and helping to release stress and tension both physically and emotionally. It helps keep your body in balance. Eunice Ingham, affectionately known as the mother of reflexology said: “If you’re feeling out of kilter, don’t know why or what about, let your feet reveal the answer, find the sore spot, work it out.”
To find out more about Kathryn and her practice of reflexology visit www.thebigtoe.co.uk
The stress factor
We all deal with stress differently. If you’ve been suffering for a short period of time you may notice some physical symptoms including: headaches, difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration, loss of appetite, irritability or fatigue. Over a longer period stress can cause: high blood pressure, depression, heart problems, digestive issues, skin problems, weight loss and gain, and it can also affect fertility.
Stress can have huge repercussions on how our bodies react. How we’re feeling, what we’re doing and how we’re reacting to certain situations can all have an effect on our main organs and overall well-being.
Whatever the stress or whatever your threshold, the important thing is that you don’t make yourself ill. Although you may be fit with a healthy diet and lifestyle, if you’re stressed problems can still arise. Can you identify what is causing you the stress and address it head on? Taking control is empowering. Talk to friends and family; don’t bottle it all up inside.
In traditional Chinese medicine parts of our body represent a feeling or emotion:
The liver represents anger and frustration. If the liver is out of balance we may feel more angry, frustrated or even guilty. Alternatively, if we feel incredibly angry about something, then the liver itself could become affected.
The spine represents our support network. Upper back pain can be caused if you’re feeling unsupported or that someone is literally ‘always on your back.’ Mid-back pain is often related to unaddressed feelings from the past. Lower back pain can be caused by a fear for your own survival.