I have known Rima for a number of years now and as well as taking treatment from her myself she has also been a patient of mine. Needless to say, there is great mutual respect between us! This week I decided to interview her on her specialist skill, reflexology, the health benefits and how it can assist with injury recovery.
KT: What is reflexology?
RS: The Association of Reflexologists (www.aor.org.uk) defines reflexology as follows:
Reflexology is a non-intrusive complementary health therapy, based on the theory that different points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears correspond with different areas of the body. Reflexologists work holistically with their clients and aim to work alongside medical healthcare to promote better health for their clients.
KT: What sparked your interest in Reflexology?
RS: I was first introduced to reflexology by a great aunt when I was a teenager and it really piqued my interest. I was fascinated by the fact that pressing some points on someone’s feet could exert such a response. I was doubly fascinated as I had quite a logically/scientific brain and this was something that I couldn’t explain – I just knew that from my experience it was lovely and it worked for me. I was studying my GCSEs and A-Levels at the time and then went on to study Life Sciences at university. I was always rubbing and massaging people’s shoulders without thinking about it, and my first instinct at university was to seek out a treatment when my back and neck were hurting from my poor posture when studying. Upon returning I found that I still had a real interest in various parts of natural health including reflexology and aromatherapy and at that time getting work related to my degree was very hard, so I looked for training various complementary therapies. It all seemed to be so logical as my favourite A-level as human biology and I loved physiology and anatomy at university. For me it just seemed like a natural progression. Over 16 years later I still love what I do and I’m constantly amazed by the difference the reflexology makes to people.
KT: What do you specialise in?
RS: While I was studying for my reflexology diploma I was doing some medical admin temping and I was fortunate enough to work with some fantastic obstetricians, midwives and women’s health doctors and nurses. They were very generous in sharing information when I requested it too. Over time I found that I was naturally getting enquiries about very specific conditions, so I looked into getting as much detailed advanced training as possible. I would say that at the moment I specialise in women’s health (including PCOS/fibroids/endometriosis, fertility/conception, pregnancy and menopause), digestive problems and stress management. Many of these are interlinked too.
KT: What types of people usually seek out your help and why?
RS: I get enquiries from all different people – men and women – of all age groups too. It is primarily women, but as the years pass I’m finding that more and more men are looking for reflexology treatments. The reasons vary considerably but quite often it will be related to stress management, fertility or pregnancy and usually they’ll have had a friend or relative tell them about reflexology if they’ve never tried it before.
KT: Can reflexology helps with muscular ache and pains?
RS: I have had clients who have found that their musculoskeletal issues have improved after their reflexology treatment. During a treatment an experienced reflexologist can pick up subtle changes in the feet, and work around those reflex points. I have clients who have attended due to a hormonal imbalance, and she was suffering with tightness and discomfort in her back and gluteal muscles from an old exercise injury. I paid more attention to this area, and she sent me an email a few days later to say that her tightness and discomfort totally disappeared the following day. I myself suffered from a prolapsed spinal disc, which was the most amount of pain I have ever experienced. I started by doing some self-reflexology to ease pain and then when I was able to I started to receive regular treatments from a colleague alongside my osteopathy and corrective exercises. It really helped me.
KT: What role does Reflexology have in real life?
RS: Reflexology is a deeply relaxing treatment, which can aid general well-being. By reducing the effects of the stress and by calming the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) this can be greatly beneficial in helping with all stress linked health problems. All the body systems are linked so when one balances it tends to have a positive effect on other systems too. Many clients report feeling deeply relaxed for several days after and feeling generally calmer. Some also find that their sleep improves.
There is also a lot to be said for the positive power of touch. In our generally busy adult lives we rarely come across positive touch other than possibly with our partner or children. Some people suffer from “white coat syndrome” where all touch is cold and of a medical nature. They feel prodded and poked. So when I touch their feet with a warm, positive and caring manner it can greatly help with the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
KT: What does a typical course of treatment with you look like?
RS: Each reflexology appointment lasts for 1 hour. Depending on why someone has come to me they may just have a one off session or they may require a course. The frequency and number is very different for each person, as we are all individuals and our body and mind will react and respond differently and at varied speeds. As a guide, some clients who attend for PCOS and haven’t had a regular period may need to attend weekly for 4-6 sessions. Someone coming for stress management may attend for 1 session every month. This is something that I discuss with every client during their first session and in the follow up after. We also review this regularly as situations and conditions change.
KT: How does corrective rehabilitation exercise fit in with reflexology?
RS: From my own personal experience I have found that reflexology and corrective rehabilitative exercise and really complement each other. The reflexology is a holistic treatment that works to ease tension and stress in the body, and keeping this down can reduce pain in the body and ease muscles, which can benefit the results of the corrective exercises. For anyone suffering from muscle pain, post injury issues, shoulder injuries etc both reflexology and the corrective exercise together can show great improvements and aid recovery.
KT: What are your top 4 health and wellness tips that you can share with readers?
RS: 1. Drink plenty of water; 2. Eat regular wholesome meals full of nourishing proteins and vegetables, but don’t skip on the carbs (unless it’s due to a health condition) or fat as these are necessary in small amounts; 3. Make sure you get plenty of sleep – and if you are not sleeping well try some key sleep habits to see what may be the cause of it; 4. Do something creative that you enjoy every day – this could be walking, running, baking, cooking, gardening, painting, knitting etc. Anything that you like that allows you to switch off your brain and relax.
Rima Shah @calmandclear
Calm and Clear Complementary Therapies®
Available in 4 clinics around London throughout the weekdays. Also offer talks and workshops.