Tag Archives: complementary health

Energy Therapy- Reflexology (Part 4)

Reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China ad was introduced to the West in 20th century.

Reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China ad was introduced to the West in 20th century.

A brief history of Reflexology

According to the Association of Reflexology website, “Whilst the art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, this therapy was not introduced to the West until Dr William Fitzgerald developed ‘Zone therapy’. He believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.

In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is known as reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.”

The Theory of Reflexology

There are different schools of thought as to how manipulating the feet and hands can affect the wellness of the rest of the body.  One idea is that the nerve endings in the feet and hands are connected to particular organs and regions of the body.  Stimulating these nerves through massage can have a balancing effect on the organs or glands to which they are connected. Meridians are another way in which the feet and hands are connected to other parts of the body.  These are lines that run through the body along which Chi (the universal energy force) flows.  In Taoist tradition the belief is that free- flowing, unblocked Chi means the body is balanced and healthy physically, mentally and spiritually.

The truth is probably a mixture of these schools of thought.  Because nerve endings and meridians terminate in the hands and feet, a reflexologist is stimulating both nerve endings and meridians and affecting and influencing both. Perhaps the school you ascribe to depends on the belief system with which you feel most comfortable?  Personally I am happy with both the western, medicine based explanation of nerve endings and the eastern, Taoist theory of meridians.

Either way, Reflexology theory states that applying pressure to certain points on the hands or feet affects the energy flow of the body in some way.  The role of the practitioner is not to cure, diagnose or prescribe, but rather to help the body to restore its balance naturally.  That is why the practitioner takes a holistic view of the client’s health and tailors each treatment to the client’s individual needs, taking into account both physical and non-physical factors that might be affecting their wellbeing.

My Reflexology practitioner, Natasha Sharpin, works from The Salus Wellness Clinic in Cambridge, UK, a treatment centre for many complementary therapists near the city centre.

My Reflexology Session

The session started with some basic questions about health and personal details.  As I answered, Natasha took notes.  I began to relax as the soft music playing on the iPod and the calming environment began to take its hold.  This seemed to coincide with more probing questions about diet, overall well- being and even dreams that I have.  Although Natasha knew that I was in her treatment room to be able to write a piece for our blog, she asked to come to the session with an issue that I would like help in resolving.  I have always suffered from tension in the neck, shoulders and stomach areas and wondered if Reflexology could help.

Once Natasha was satisfied that I had painted a picture of my general state, she asked me to go over to the treatment chair.  Through a series of slow electrically driven movements, the chair moves you from a vertical position to a near- horizontal pose that is extremely relaxing and makes it easier for the Reflexologist to work with your feet.  Natasha offered me a blanket to keep me warm as I was going to be still for about 45 minutes.  I was fully clothed save for my shoes and socks.  Firstly, Natasha cleaned my feet with an alcohol-free swab and then she began looking and studying my feet!  She started telling me things about my body that I had not mentioned in the earlier part of the session, in particular the tension in my neck and shoulders and in my right hip.  I was intrigued and surprised that so much information could be gleaned from the feet!

The next part of the treatment was the foot work. It was very relaxing and at times surprisingly painful (in that way that you feel it is really doing you good).  For the first few minutes Natasha slowly and precisely manipulated my feet, as she instructed me to breathe in long, slow breaths to aid relaxation.  As the session progressed, the thumb pressure went into some really tender places that corresponded to the areas of tension in my body.  Above and beyond the wonderful sensation of having my feet massaged and the relaxing feeling it left my body in, I felt more aware of the stresses and strains I put my feet under and how this may have an impact on my body as a whole, as well as the reverse effect.  The fact that the effects of stresses that the body is under manifests in the feet should not really be a surprise, as we are fully integrated beings influenced and effected in many subtle and intricate ways.

After the massage session, Natasha and I briefly discussed some of the things I could do to support the benefits of the session in my own time.  These included using a hand reflex point in the heel of the hand below the thumb that stimulates the reflex point to the adrenals leading to reduced stress.  Using strategies of stress relief and tension release have a holistic effect on the body, the perfect complement to the Reflexology session.


I found the Reflexology session with Natasha very beneficial.  During the session and after I felt much of the tension in my body significantly reduced and so better able to manage the stress I feel. Although it would be better to have regular sessions to support the body in reaching balance and harmony, as is the case with most health issues, it is not necessarily practical financially or with respect to our busy schedules.  However, being given tips about how to manage my own stress and tension using reflexology means that I am empowered to take control and responsibility for my own health. With that said I did book in for a few weeks later.

Stress and tension are both major contributors to illness.  It stands to reason that learning effective ways to manage one’s stress levels is really important for long term health and well- being.  Rather than reaching for a cigarette, a pint of beer or a glass of wine or even popping pills when we feel stressed, would it not be better for our overall health to learn simple techniques to relax and calm the mind and body? Accessible tricks like the one’s I learned in my Reflexology session really help me manage stress, as well as meditation, going for a walk in the countryside, playing music or doing exercise.  All these things are free or very cheap.  Certainly cheaper than cigarettes and some alcohols and better for you in the long- term.

My Family recently had a health scare.  We have a history of high cholesterol and my brother was recently fitted with stents to keep open some of the arteries leading to his heart.  He had a suspected heart attack and collapsed in his late 50s.  He is well now and learning to manage his diet better to reduce his cholesterol and so reduce the likelihood of a repeat event.  Naturally this shocked me and I felt motivated to look at my diet and life style and see where changes could be made to reduce my own risk of illness related to high cholesterol.

I was staggered at how poor my health was compared to what I imagined.  I was much more over-weight than I imagined, I had high blood pressure and I had high cholesterol levels.  These things had risen so slowly I did not realise my health was in danger.  My brother’s heart attack was the wake-up call I needed.  In six months I had reduced all these symptoms to much healthier levels and I felt so much better for it.  Almost two years later I am still following a healthier life-style, based on a good understanding of my diet, the effect certain foods have on me, exercise as well as ways to manage the stresses I face during my life.

I think therapies such as Reflexology are powerful tools to help manage stress and the symptoms of stress.

Reflexology works better for us if we are prepared to make the necessary health changes as well.  Perhaps the inevitable consequences of aging are not so inevitable after all, if we take control of our life-style early in life and reduce the stress and tension that can lead to age related ailments later in life.  I for one believe in this self- responsibility and I am happy to use Reflexology as a means to help me manage my health and well-being more effectively.  I am looking forward to my next session.



My thanks go to Natasha Sharpin, founder of Reflex- aaah, who kindly gave me a Reflexology session and taught me so much about Reflexology.  Natasha’s details can be found at www.reflex-aaah.co.uk and www.salus-wellness.com.

Energy Therapy- McTimoney Chiropractic- Part 3

Chiropractic therapy works with the alignment of the bones which can become misaligned simply through the process of living.  If these misalignments are left untreated they can lead to muscle imbalance, poor posture, pain and the stagnation or pooling of energy in muscles throughout the body.

Chiropractic therapy works with the alignment of the bones which can become misaligned simply through the process of living. If these misalignments are left untreated they can lead to muscle imbalance, poor posture, pain and the stagnation or pooling of energy in muscles throughout the body.

What is McTimoney Chiropractic?
I have known my McTimoney Chiropractic practitioner for many years and know him to be very sensitive to energy in the body. Dr. Steven Aronson was drawn to this line of work when he saw how effective and powerful the McTimoney method had been for a friend. Ostensibly, chiropractic therapy works with the alignment of the bones which can become misaligned simply through the process of living. If these misalignments are left untreated they can lead to muscle imbalance, poor posture, pain and the stagnation or pooling of energy in muscles throughout the body. By realigning these bones, the skeleton can support the body as it is designed to do, allowing the muscles to relax and return the body to its natural fluid, flowing state at rest and in movement. The energy in a well aligned body flows more freely which aids overall health and well-being.

The premise of McTimoney Chiropractic
This method was developed by John McTimoney in the 1970s. He recognised that pain does not always manifest at the root of the problem. The body can become progressively misaligned and it is the McTimoney Chiropractor’s role to assess where these misalignments are and trace them back to the root of the issue. The McTimoney College of Chiropractic website says “The McTimoney approach is typified by a whole body assessment and swift, light force adjustments, which makes it a comfortable treatment to receive. The subtlety of the adjustment demands great sensitivity and mechanical skill, and once mastered the technique is extremely effective.”

My McTimoney Chiropractic session
My session was performed in the calm and tranquil environment of The Therapy Room in Cambridge, UK. Beautiful pictures and lighted candles adorned the room, creating a calming and peaceful space. Though there were other therapists practising in the building at the time, there was no noise or intrusion from elsewhere. The session began with some basic questions about my medical history, issues that I would like to have addressed, as well as an explanation of how McTimoney Chiropractic works and how the session would progress. He assured me that each patient was unique and that he uses many different skills to give effective care including Reiki and Craniosacral therapy. Once I had undressed to my underwear, the session continued with a full body assessment. I was asked to sit on the edge of the treatment table and Dr. Aronson lightly ran his fingers along the length of my spine and across my hips, as well as looked at the way my body held itself as I sat and stood. He explained that by gentle touch he can feel where the bones of the spine are misaligned and that by looking at the body he can see where muscle tension lies and how that pulls the bones out of alignment throughout the body. These subtle imbalances can have a huge impact on the body’s alignment, altering the way we sit, walk, run, lie and generally move placing stress and pressure upon the body, depleting us in energy, health and well- being. Even though I am fit and healthy, there were areas in my spine and hips that were subtly misaligned, Dr. Steven Aronson said.

Each signature light adjustment of the McTimoney method (an exact positioning of the fingers or hand followed by a gentle strike or tap) was followed by a check to see whether the bones had in fact re-aligned. It was only once I left the treatment room that I felt the effects of the adjustments. As I walked away from the session, my body felt more powerful and at greater ease and this feeling grew over the next few days as I settled into my new alignment. It was a strange feeling to have so little done mechanically, and yet I felt so much better for the experience. I am used to the deep soft tissue massage of physiotherapy and the often sore and bruised feeling that can come with that. This was very different, more subtle, yet I would say more effective.

The use of other therapies to augment healing
Dr. Aronson’s skill is not just as a Chiropractor. He used tools from Craniosacral therapy and Reiki when he felt they would be beneficial and told me when he was using them, allowing my body to take whatever it needed from the session to realign, heal and empower itself. This was understood most palpably when I was given the opportunity to sit in on a session with a patient. It was offered by Dr. Aronson as a means for me to better appreciate his process for the benefit of writing this blog and agreed to by the patient concerned. When the patient entered the room I saw a woman who I can only describe as looking as though she felt hollow of energy. She looked as though all her effort was being used to hold herself together. She had come to Dr Aronson for help because she was suffering from long term debilitating migraines that she said had eased during her course of 6 treatments.

On my journey with energy, I have developed the ability to be able to feel energy in my body and in other people’s as well as in the environment around me. It is a subtle feeling that I describe as invisible flowing water- I can feel whether it flows, where it flows and the direction of flow. It requires some concentration on my part, but it feels like I am reaching out with my body and mind for it and I recognize it when I feel it. Dr. Aronson and I discussed the session with this lady afterward and he explained that he was giving her body lots of energy during the session, allowing the lady’s body the opportunity to use the energy as it needed. I could really feel that process taking place. As her session progressed, I could see improvement in her demeanor and feel the energy radiating from her more and more. She seemed so much more relaxed.

Dr. Aronson’s passion to heal and support his clients is evident and he trusts implicitly in the client’s body’s inherent knowledge for perfect health and its ability to regain balance and well being when given the chance to do so. In his own words: “I listen to what my client’s body needs and allow their body to take what is required to achieve perfect health”.

I found my sessions with Dr Aronson invigorating. I like the idea of someone supporting and facilitating the body in nurturing and maintaining its own health. It highlights an inherent power that we all have that very often we are discouraged to tap into because we are taught to trust in the effects and benefits of pharmaceuticals and modern surgery.

Any responsible therapist would advocate medication, surgery or other forms of modern medical intervention in the desire to supply effective health care as it is recognised there are some issues that are better treated by conventional means or other therapies. Indeed, one of the points of the overall body check at the beginning of the McTimoney session was to identify potential issues that may be better addressed by a different therapist, doctor or specialist.

The session I observed with Dr Aronson’s lady client most definitely did relieve pain and discomfort for the patient. After her session, the lady and I spoke briefly about how she felt. She said that she had improved so much since she had started her series of 6 sessions (this was number 5). She said she felt far more energised compared to when she walked into the therapy room and that appeared to be the case from what I could observe. For my own session, I can say I felt stronger and at greater ease after the session. I think as an aid to maintaining optimum health, it is very effective and I would consider top-up sessions perhaps 2 or 3 times a year for my overall health and well-being.

The patient I observed clearly felt relief and that does not always happen instantly as I understand it. It can and often does takes time. The body can take time to respond as it heals itself of physical ailments that have taken many years to develop and are often borne from emotional, psychological and habitual issues.

McTimoney Chiropractic works differently to modern drug medication. It does not mask the pain to bring almost instant ease in that way. For more profound issues, many sessions may well be necessary, as was the case for the patient I observed. Sometimes, the issue becomes so severe that the desire to regain full and pain free health outweighs the financial considerations. Even so considering the expense of a Chiropractor over cheaper therapies it may be necessary to consider them over chiropractic should finance be an issue. The free therapies offered by the NHS are of course an appealing option over paying for therapy. Some health insurance companies may include McTimoney Chirpractic treatments which may alleviate financial considerations.

Consider that many people who have complementary therapies are at the end of the health line. They may have suffered for years before they seek the help of a therapist of any kind. Often they cannot be helped by the NHS for whatever reason and the NHS has given what it can and has failed to help. Under those circumstances money may not be the first consideration. The priority is a speedy return to good health and a pain free life.

I would definitely return to Dr Aronson if I needed a treatment for pain or injury. As a martial arts teacher I take injuries very seriously, not least because I do not like being in pain. There is a philosophy to complementary therapies that I am very comfortable with, namely that by treating the whole body, the therapist supports the body in reaching and maintaining full wellness without the use of drugs or surgical intervention.

NHS has made some changes to its policy towards holistic therapies and now people can be given the details of approved therapists by their GP. It would be wonderful to see the NHS embrace these treatments even more and make them available in the UK on the NHS system. Until then, it is a personal choice and life-style commitment by the individual to decide how he/ she exercise his/ her responsibility for health, including food and nutrition, healthcare and exercise.

Avis and Brown and Nourish the Flame within would like to thank Dr. Steven Aronson for his time during which he explained the principles of McTimoney Chiropractic and his patience at answering my endless questions during the session. I would also like to extend my thanks to him for reviewing this article and making sure there are no factual errors. Since the 2003 he has had the opportunity to help over two thousand people to effectively eliminate their pain. Using the McTimoney method he has successfully treated people of all ages including young babies, pregnant women and the elderly. You can read more about the services Dr. Steven Aronson offers at www.stevenaronson.com/