Reflexology and Cancer

May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Reflexology Tips

I’m always looking out for trends and innovations in reflexology. If reflexology and cancer isn’t the biggest one today, I don’t know what is.

In the days of my early bodywork training (Polarity Therapy – yes, there was a time in my life before reflexology!), students were cautioned about working with cancer patients – even when working off the body!

Thank goodness compassionate touch has won the day. It’s better to comfort with gentle touch than to deny the stress relieving comfort and nurturing that it affords.

As with all medical situations, you need to get an okay from a doctor in order to work with anyone who is very sick – whether from an illness or from the treatment of a disease.

However, if the opportunity arises to work with someone who has cancer, consider yourself lucky because they’ll already have a variety of medical supports. This will be a team of one, or many, of the following: doctors, nurses, osteopaths, physical therapists, acupuncturists, etc. Becoming a member of that team is a privilege.

Now, everyone on the team needs to know about each other. This only makes sense. Call the doctor(s) and introduce yourself, say that their client has asked to receive reflexology from you and find out whether this is okay and if there is anything you need to know.

I’ve never once had the experience of a doctor being dismissive. On the contrary the response has been positive, although you do need to be prepared to explain what reflexology is.

Here’s some useful information, research and resources currently available for reflexology and cancer:

1. As I’ve mentioned before, the University of Michigan received a 1.3 million dollar grant from the NIH (National Institute of Health) to study reflexology as a support for the effects of the treatment breast cancer. As their website states:

“Breast cancer patients turn to reflexology for comfort”

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Researchers at Michigan State University are finding that many women who are receiving chemotherapy while in the late stages of breast cancer are turning to a complementary therapy known as reflexology to help them cope.

In a pilot study, researchers from MSU’s College of Nursing tested three different complementary therapies — reflexology, guided imagery and reminiscence therapy, in which women recall times in their lives when they’ve met and overcome challenges. Of those three, reflexology proved to be the most effective…

2. The Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City, has, in the past, offered a two day course in “Reflexology for the Cancer Patient”.

From all reports it has been an amazing learning experience aimed at giving reflexologists with the best information possible for working with cancer patients.

3. The First Symposium on Reflexology and Cancer was held in Israel in 2008.

It turned out to be a stellar symposium with speakers, research and supporting techniques offered by speakers from around the world.

4. My favorite book on cancer and bodywork is “Medicine Hands, Massage Therapy for People with Cancer”, by Gayle MacDonald, M.S., L. M. T.

Although geared towards massage therapists, it gives you great and important information about the different types of the disease and the effects of many of the treatments — both on the patient and also on the caregiver or therapist.

If there’s a better book out there, please drop me a line and let me know.

You’ve heard me talk about how inspiring my mother was to me. What you might not know is that she had cancer four times.

And, she survived (make that thrived) for over 40 more years.

Towards the end of her life she had Alzheimer’s and I gave her reflexology – not so much to heal her, but rather to communicate with and demonstrate with every gentle alternating thumb and finger walking pressure that she is not alone, that she is special, that I care and that I am present… in the moment… with her.

(Today would have been her birthday. Happy Birthday Mom!)

Healing is never a one person experience. With reflexology, as with other complementary and alternative modalities, healing is a profoundly shared experience.

For many people, cancer is a passage into another part of life. For some it is their final passage. To walk alongside anyone who has embarked upon this journey and to hold their hands or feet is truly an honor.

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills.

Wendy Coad – Online health and reflexology expert and the “Reflexology Professor” publishes the popular “Reflexology Secrets, Tips and Techniques” weekly email newsletter to subscribers from around the world. If you’re ready to enjoy health, express creativity, gain knowledge and skyrocket your reflexology or holistic health career, get your FREE tips now at and join us at the top right corner.

To your reflexology success –

Reflex, Live Long and Prosper,

Creator of the Mega Reflexology Training


Reflexology and Children with Developmental Delays

May 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

Practicing Reflexology with Special Needs Children – A Life Transformation

By Irene Mykoliw, OTR/L

If I am to summarize my experience in learning and practicing Reflexology in one expression it would be “wow and how amazing”, referring to the overall make up of the human body and of its own miraculous recovery process.

Background information:

I have a license to practice Occupational Therapy (also known as OT), an Allied Health Profession concerned with helping people of all ages to better perform those tasks that occupy their time. For children, this typically means playing and learning, as well as eating, dressing, grooming, relating and learning.

The OT objective is to assist in improving a child’s overall ability to attend, develop play, gross motor/visual/fine motor skills progressively, preparing them for academic challenges as they grow older…

When I ventured in working with the pediatric population, from 1993 ages 2 – 8 at a center based special education program until now, I noticed that children who had significant sensory processing interferences, due to a particular diagnosis, responded well to compression applied to their joints (one of the techniques OT use) and massage techniques to their feet and legs. They evidenced less agitation and increased calmness allowing some kind of therapeutic intervention to be done.

I attended a weekend reflexology workshop in 2002… finishing in March 2008 and what an enlightening and rewarding experience.

I began applying my learned reflexology techniques with my current young population (ages 2 to 3 ½ years) and thus experienced a profound inner change beyond my wildest dreams, especially with one little girl I will call Jay.

A Heart warming and moving Story:

From the time Jay arrived at the center all we heard were cries…

Jay has a compromised sensory processing ability. She had difficulty in transitioning from her parents, from one task to another, one place to another displaying crying and avoidance behavior, (either by closing her eyes, sliding down her chair, running to the door, or simply plopping her body to floor).

In the therapy room, Jay would cry and run from one area to another and to the door making displeased sounds.

I began trying basic [reflexology] relaxation techniques in November, which she seemed to tolerate for about 1 minute, when she allowed me to touch her feet with a playful approach of singing “tickle, tickle feet”, with a combination of other words.


Practicing Reflexology with Special Needs Children: A Life Transformation

I continued to work on Jay for about two minutes incorporating joint compression techniques at the hips and knees. It was in 3rd week of February of 2008 that a shift began to occur. One day I heard her cry for most of the classroom time (1 hour and 1/2), because of a different program trial application the teacher was enforcing. She was scheduled to see me before leaving for home, the remaining half hour.

I looked at her and she looked very tired from her ordeal. Jay was brought to the therapy room and I placed her on a large round pillow. The only recourse I had was applying reflexology relaxation and thumb/finger walking techniques.

She allowed me to work on her, beginning with relaxation techniques without fidgeting. I noticed a change in her facial expression with a curious gaze and progressed with thumb walking doing a general session, tolerating 3 minutes.

I sensed tenderness in adrenal glands on both feet and eased up the pressure. She stopped crying and presented to be less agitated, by standing and walking around as well as interacting with toy[s] I presented.

The next day, I made a point to ask the staff how did Jay perform with her trials and they replied more responsive than ever.

I began to incorporate at least 5 minutes to both feet each time I saw her, 2 x weekly for approximately 6 minutes depending on her tolerance) for another 3 months and for 7-10 minutes the remaining months until August 29th when she graduated from this program.

The outcomes were amazing.

For 7 months I would know when Jay came into the building, hearing her unique crying sounds. One afternoon I did not hear her and asked a teacher in passing whether Jay was in. She was. And so, the next remainder months no signs of her crying were heard when she arrived.

Jay’s initial behaviors:

Jay presented with minimum eye contact, difficulty in transitioning from one place to another, from one task to another, avoidance by closing her eyes, sliding down her chair and/or running to the door, crying and resisted to sit for table top fine motor tasks.

Behavioral changes noted:

Jay made great eye contact, smiled, initiated climbing on obstacle course, allowed to be directed to tasks at the table and fine-motor activities, grasping markers and briefly scribbling, stacking shapes, tolerating sensory overload in a crowded room.

One day, she walked toward divider doors adjacent to another therapy room, pushed the doors ajar, walked into that room and looked at 2 therapists present.That is an incredible feat for her. (I can describe it like a person who is afflicted with agoraphobia opening the door to take a walk around the block without fear).

The ultimate highlight was at her graduation day at the end of August (she aged out from the Early Intervention Program and onto the next level, Preschool). With the little ones presenting a rehearsed song to their parents, Jay sat and took in all with a smile at first and then a punched looked due to sensory overload from all the happenings in the room. When the ceremony was finished, it was time for her session with me.

I no longer needed to guide her to begin an activity. She immediately went to a suspended swing sat down and slowly moved herself with her feet. As a therapist, I interpret this as self-regulating skill, ability to calm herself. (Prior all the calming was adapted externally by the team with various strategies). I sat down and began to apply reflexology techniques, but she pulled away gently, as if to savior her quiet moment). I respected her cue. (The room was quiet. I experienced such gratitude for this added tool to use in my profession, which Jay clearly benefited from).

Both parents presented a Thank You card reading: “Your work with Jay has made such a difference for her. We love the way she is so much more aware and interactive with people and the environment and ready to explore and be adventurous. It’s Wonderful to see. Many thanks”….


This experience has impacted me deeply, witnessing improved behaviors and responses from other “little” clients. One child who had difficulty sitting still and attending, showed calmness for 2 minutes immediately and every session lifted his foot for me to work on his feet. He followed directions and sat for fine motor activities until it was time to leave.

The stories go on.

Although, sensory integration techniques serve the children therapeutically, I have observed that the effects of applying reflexology facilitated a quicker calming effect.

Without getting too technical, the children I work with evidence developmental delays due to a compromised nervous system for one unknown reason or another.They experience a high stress level, showing anxious behaviors and evidence being in a “fright or flight” mode, (the function of the sympathetic nervous system).

In applying reflexology techniques over a period of time, a change in their response to environmental and program demands are noticed by staff, eliciting a calming and attentive state (the function of the parasympathetic nervous system), which opens up for the learning process to occur.

My advanced studies in reflexology added another dimension in understanding the body mechanics, how the systems work, communicate with each other has sharpened my skills as a clinician. Reflexology is certainly complimenting my OT training contributing to a sense of being well rounded. The experience is priceless to observe the little relaxed expressions during their reflexology session and the growing changes that occur along the way.

I end this article with gratitude.

November 1, 2008

Wendy’s note:

All I can say is “wow and how amazing”. Thank you Irene.

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills.

Wendy Coad – Online health and reflexology expert and the “Reflexology Professor” publishes the popular “Reflexology Secrets, Tips and Techniques” weekly email newsletter to subscribers from around the world. If you’re ready to enjoy health, express creativity, gain knowledge and skyrocket your reflexology or holistic health career, get your FREE tips now at and join us at the top right corner.

To your reflexology success –

Reflex, Live Long and Prosper,

Creator of the Mega Reflexology Training


Reflexology and mom

May 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Reflexology Tips

Until quite recently, I’d forgotten that I’d been around reflexology at a very young age.

You see my great uncle Alvin was a reflexologist which he combined with his pedorthy practice.

In those days, pedorthy – shoe sizing, measuring and fitting footwear – was a more common professional career. People knew how important the feet are and took better care of them back then.

Uncle Alvin was practicing reflexology as early as the 1940’s.

When my brother was young he had asthma and hay-fever. It almost killed him once – so my mom took him to my uncle for reflexology.

She said it helped a lot.

Mom was always one to try things she thought were important. One day while I was visiting, a few years before she went into the nursing home, she reached into the back of her closet and pulled out a small packet of papers.

“Here” she said, “I saved these for you, dear. I thought you’d like to have them one day”.

I looked at the neatly folded papers, one with an old stamp of a young Queen and another a green brochure in a protective plastic bag.

It took me a moment to realize what these papers were.

As early as 1948, my mother had written a letter to Eunice Ingham requesting information on a “reflexologist in our area… for a friend”.

Eunice wrote back on the same typed page mom had sent her and reported she didn’t know specifically of anyone, but that buying one of her books could certainly help.

A reflexologist AND a business woman!

The other papers were flyers for reflexology workshops and forms to order books. All kept safe for so many years.

But, in my hands was the reflexologists equivalent of an ingot of pure gold.

Nothing could have made me happier.

I talk about my mother, Irene, often because she’s been an inspiration to me my whole life. And, she still is.

Towards the end of her life, she had Alzheimer’s disease, was blind, and no longer able to communicate very well.

Irene was well into her nineties, still an amazing person and luckily, she was in an amazing eldercare facility. Even though her recollection of me had grown dim at best, we spend lots of wonderful time together.

Sometimes we talk about the very distant past. At various times she considers me her mother, father, daughter, sister or… a stranger.

One thing we could always do together was reflexology. And since her hands were so easy to reach, I’d often give her a soothing Hand Reflexology session.

Although the disease had decreased her responsiveness, as soon as I’d take her hand she’d turns towards me and smile.

Because of her cataracts, she could no longer see me but she could feel the warmth of my hands and the love in my touch.

It was such a gift to be able to communicate with her in this way because so many avenues, that I once took for granted, had since been cut off.

We’d sit together, her hand in mine and I’d slowly and gently do some relaxation techniques. I’d use a little extra lotion and was careful not to pull the dorsal skin. With age her skin became extremely thin and the vessels were very prominent. On the palm side, I’d scoop my fingertips in just a little bit.

Her hands were often cold so I’d wrap my hand around each finger and give a gentle squeeze (instead of the usual “coin rubbing” technique).

Sometimes she’d squeeze my hand back as if to say she’s happy I was there.

Holding each finger, just as I described, offers soothing balance to all the chakra elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether.

And, I’d remember that half the meridians in the body: lung, large intestine, triple energizer, pericardium, heart and small intestine, begin or end on each finger tip! (You’ll learn this, and a whole lot more, in the Professor’s Hand Reflexology program.)

Irene would usually be sitting in a chair that’s part-chair and part-bed. She could no longer walk at this point. There were not a lot of movements she could do.

It was incredible that she had no specific health issues. Still, all her systems were wearing down. She had none of the actions, movements – bending and straightening – that keeps us mobile with everything moving.

Although she wasn’t able to use the normal mechanics for system support and balance, I deeply trusted that these gentle Hand Reflexology sessions helped her organ systems as well as all the fluid tides.

So, I’d focus on the general session sequence. And use just a fraction of the pressure and one quarter of the usual session time.

There we sit, together for those precious moments, in deep connection and communication without needing to say any words.

And, I’ll treasure these moments forever.

The elderly and particularly nursing home patients are often stressed, disoriented and deprived of safe and meaningful touch.

To just take their hand in a compassionate way can have a tremendous impact.

You can just imagine what a soothing and relaxing touch – combined with the benefits of Reflexology – can do.

Remember to check with the medical staff before embarking on any technique with the elderly population.

I’m forever grateful for my sweet reflexology skills. They have given me a world where the possibilities are profound and endless.

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills.

Wendy Coad – Online health and reflexology expert and the “Reflexology Professor” publishes the popular “Reflexology Secrets, Tips and Techniques” weekly email newsletter to subscribers from around the world. If you’re ready to enjoy health, express creativity, gain knowledge and skyrocket your reflexology or holistic health career, get your FREE tips now at and join us at the top right corner.

To your reflexology success –

Reflex, Live Long and Prosper,

Creator of the Mega Reflexology Training


Reflexology and Carpal Tunnel – What Every Reflexologist Needs to Know! Part II

May 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

Last week I wrote Part I of this article “Reflexology and Carpal Tunnel”

If you want to read Part I go to: where past articles are available.

It’s what every reflexologist needs to know and included:
– Anatomy

– Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

– Causes

– Risks associated with the disease

– Diagnosis

This week I’ll continue with:

– Treatment

– Non-surgical treatments

– Exercise, and

– What Can Reflexology Do?

Part II

Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome vary and should begin as early as possible, under a doctor’s direction.

Underlying causes such as diabetes or arthritis should be treated first.

If there is inflammation, applying cool packs can help reduce swelling.

Non-surgical treatments

There are a couple of homeopathic creams that might help the symptoms:

Brands like Traumeel (a calendula and arnica based ointment) and Topricin (with 11 homeopathic ingredients) have both shown effectiveness and are available in many health food stores.

In special circumstances, various drugs can ease the pain and swelling associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. NSAIDS such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers, may ease symptoms that have been present for a short time or have been caused by strenuous activity.

Alternative support therapies – Hand Reflexology, Acupuncture and Chiropractic care have benefited so me patients. (The problem could be caused or exaserbated by even a slight misalignment of the carpals)

Exercise – Stretching and strengthening exercises can be helpful in people whose symptoms have abated.

Doctors will sometimes suggest that one wear a wrist splint (can be purchased at most drugstores) to keep the wrist in a neutral position at rest. Splinting is usually tried for a period of 4-6 weeks.

What can Reflexology Do?

As a reflexologist, why would I even care about carpal tunnel syndrome if it’s not my job to fix it? Well, I do care, but my primary considerations are the reflexes.

Remember, if you or anyone you know even thinks they have this problem – it’s very important they get the appropriate medical attention.

And, I’m repeating myself here too – with any illness, stress is always a factor. Rest is important and the stress relief that Hand Reflexology brings is a wonderful component to any health maintenance regime.

If carpal tunnel is acute (meaning it hurts or it’s active now) you won’t want to work on the area directly.

There are a lot of things to know and even more to think a bout. Be very careful with any nerve impingement.

I’ve learned this from my own experience – nerves do not like to be irritated – because it just make them, well, crankier. Not good.

If you’re trained in Hand Reflexology you know that there are some very specific strategies to support the body in its own healing process.

And, what about the reflexes?

Good point. There are specific reflexes in the area and as a good reflexologist, you need to also be focused on the systems of the body.

Be curious about these reflex area – does the client also have sciatica? Do they have any reproductive or digestive issues?

Inherent in the Hand Reflexology techniques (I can’t say what others teach… maybe – not this much) are techniques that will let you work safely to relax the hand.

And, what if you don’t have this specific training? – I suggest that you work the good hand and the opposite foot – or the ears.

The benefits of reflexology can be nothing short of amazing.

And, it’s never been more apparen t than in the UK where an British media article from 2004 reports that; “According to a survey conducted on behalf of Yellow Pages…, the number of high street greengrocers has declined by almost 60 per cent in 10 years, while the number of reflexologists is up over 800 per cent.”

I rest my case.

As always, there’s so much more I’d like to share with you. I’ll be adding more great reflexology info
rmation in future newsletters.

Here’s to your good session (and business) health!

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills.

Wendy Coad – Online health and reflexology expert and the “Reflexology Professor” publishes the popular “Reflexology Secrets, Tips and Techniques” weekly email newsletter to subscribers from around the world. If you’re ready to enjoy health, express creativity, gain knowledge and skyrocket your reflexology or holistic health career, get your FREE tips now at and join us at the top right corner.

To your reflexology success –

Reflex, Live Long and Prosper,

Creator of the Mega Reflexology Training