Reflexology and the Solar Plexus

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

The Solar Plexus reflex is sometimes thought of as a huge energy source with a mysterious physical body part associated with it.

As it turns out… it’s both.

Also known as the Celiac Plexus, the Solar Plexus, is a complex network of nerves (a plexus).

Located in the upper part of the abdominal cavity, it’s probably called the celiac plexus because it’s very near where the celiac trunk, superior mesenteric artery, and renal arteries branch from the abdominal aorta.

Found just behind the stomach and the omental bursa, the celiac plexus is just in front of the crura of the diaphragm, or at the level of L1 – the first lumbar vertebra.

Function of Solar Plexus:

Physically, and as a nerve and blood source, and the Solar Plexus is located midway between the navel and the base of the sternum.

This central plexus supports the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and liver.

In energy medicine, the Solar Plexus Centre is one of the main power chakras in the body.

In addition to its association with the 3rd chakra, or the center of our “will power”, it’s also been associated with the functioning of the aura or psychic energy field, and with Etheric and Astral plane sensitivity.

In Theosophy, the Solar Plexus was in correspondence, in part, to the “Spleen Centre”, where the various spiritual energies enter for distribution to various parts of the body

Clinical importance:

If you’ve ever had a blow to the stomach area, you’ve felt the intensity of what an upset to this region can cause. This can cause the diaphragm to spasm, resulting in difficulty in breathing — a sensation commonly known as “getting the wind knocked out of you”.

And it makes sense that a blow to this region could also affect the celiac plexus itself, with the possibly of interfering with the functioning of the viscera, in addition to causing great pain.

Since the celiac plexus is often commonly referred to as the Solar Plexus, we generally think of the upper stomach region for its location.

And it’s not just a blow to the stomach that can upset this region.

This great network (or ganglia) of nerves that sits directly behind the stomach and goes out to all parts of the abdominal cavity is highly affected by stress.

Because of its sensitivity to stress, it’s sometimes it’s been called the “abdominal brain”.

As a chakra point, the Celiac Plexus is an energy centre, with a specific vibration that in turn manifests vortices that draw spiritual energy into ourselves.

Characteristics:

Associated with the color yellow, the Solar Plexus is the area which defines our “self-esteem”. Known as the center of “will” or EGO, the personality that develops during puberty is housed in this chakra.

It’s thought that anyone experiencing dysfunction of the third chakra is having difficulty obtaining or maintaining his/her own “personal power”.

Physical Dysfunctions:

As you can imagine, there are a myriad of organs and functions that will be effected by a problem in this area. Some of these are: diabetes, pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, intestinal tumors, indigestion, anorexia/ bulimia, hepatitis, cirrhosis, adrenal imbalances, arthritis, colon diseases.

Exercise for Solar Plexus

The Solar Plexus is an area of deep emotion. In yoga, there is training for proper exercise of the whole breathing apparatus in order to gain such control of the Solar Plexus so that anger, resentment, resistance, blues, discouragement and fear will be as foreign to you as are the awkward motions you once made when you were first learning to walk or eat.

Solar Plexus Self-Help Steps:

  • First of all loosen your clothing
  • Lie down flat upon your back with arms outspread and without pillow; let go of everything mentally
  • Inhale slowly through the nostrils a full breath;  hold steady a second or two; then force the breath suddenly into the upper part of the lungs; hold there a second or two and then suddenly throw all the breath down as far as possible, at the same time exclaiming mentally to the Solar Plexus.

This kundalini yoga pose is a good Solar Plexus exercise. This can be done to heal, balance and strengthening the Solar Plexus by developing this strength. The intention is for optimum health and that the person becomes more efficient and less stressed.

How Can Reflexology Help?

In the beginning, the middle and at the end every single reflexology session I give, I hold the Solar Plexus reflex points. Truly the “Sun Center”, if there was ever a favorite reflex for me to work, this would be it.

First, let’s find its point location: the Solar Plexus reflex is found bilaterally on the plantar surface and below the heads of metatarsals 2 & 3 (at the point between the distal shafts).

As noted above, it’s the area associated with organs and chakras, but did you know that it comes close to matching the kidney meridian as well.

In my last newsletter I mentioned that in oriental medicine, the Kidney Meridian and specifically the first Kidney Meridian point (K1) is thought of as the “Source of Chi”.

And, the Kidney Meridian is located between the Solar Plexus point and our own reflexology Kidney Reflex!

In each of my training programs, I reinforce how powerful this one reflex point is. I feel the connection and my clients do to.

You know it’s a good reflex when a client will say, “I really felt a lot of energy on that point”. It happens over and over again.

In fact, I think that the Solar Plexus reflex is such a powerful point for relaxation and stress relief that when students ask what to do if they’re not sure how to proceed, I tell them to hold these points, for several minutes.

That one pair of reflex points alone will elicit a similar relaxation effect that working on several other points, for a much longer period of time, will do.

For example if a person is frail or there is a contraindication for the application of pressure, I will gently hold the Solar Plexus points, without applying any pressure – just contact, for several minutes.

Of course, we do this naturally when someone is ill or in the hospital… it’s just more common to make the contact with the Solar Plexus points on the hands.

When you hold someone’s hand or even shake their hand, you are making contact through the Solar Plexus points.

It is truly an act of being open and compassionate.

So, to honor the multiple modalities and multiple functions of the Solar Plexus reflex and its importance to relaxing the body, it’s always a good idea to give it some extra attention when giving a reflexology session (don’t forget that this includes self-help too).

I always detail the Solar Plexus reflex as I work on the Respiratory Diaphragm reflex as well.

And, don’t forget about the rest of the family – the Nervous System reflexes. It’s a small system and easy to detail in its entirety.

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills and explore how beautifully reflexology supports us body and soul.

Here’s to your good reflexology health!

© Wendy I. Coad

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Reflexology to the Core (the Skeletal System)

September 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

Last week I gave you the first installment of the article: Reflexology, World Reflexology Week, Halloween and the Skeletal System

With the subtitle: “How Does Halloween Feature in World Reflexology Week?”

As I mentioned earlier, while we gear up for both World Reflexology Week and Halloween – why not offer a promotional session in celebration of one or both: World Reflexology Week AND Halloween.

A great way to do that is to offer a special – Special Session, Special Price, Special Event or Special Contribution… the list goes on.

Here are some thoughts on each:

Special Session – Design a sequence that will specifically address a particular system, if you make it the skeletal system (why? Because it’s Halloween) I’ll give you the particulars below.

Special Price – You can do just one of the suggested or just one – like price – You can say something like “In honor of World Reflexology Week, I’m offering a discount, (or a “bring a friend” 2 for one special… – a great way to introduce someone else to your reflexology services and maybe get a new client),

Special Event – make it a celebration! Have an “open house” in your office to thank existing customers and to welcome newcomers to your place. Serve cheese and a beverage and have fun during World Reflexology Week.

Special Contribution – How about volunteering or donating the money you earn from one session during World Reflexology Week to a local charity or to your local/national reflexology association? (State and National Reflexology Associations are non-profits and they work tirelessly on our behalf through volunteer services.)

If you’re in New York City you must join the New York State Reflexology Association’s (NYSRA is hugely active and the largest state association in the country). They have for years offered sessions to patients and caregivers at the “Hospital for Joint Disease” and they are planning an event celebrating World Reflexology Week in conjunction with Ronald McDonald House – a facility that offers affordable, temporary housing for parents/family of kids undergoing cancer treatments while at hospitals (in New York City and around the country). Get more info by emailing info@nysraweb.org

Now, as I mentioned last week, when it comes to pain and how it affects the body, most people think of the skeletal system first – as in the spine, hips, knees and shoulders. The skeletal system happens to be one of the most important systems of the body. If we treat it right and maintain it well, it will be happy to return the favor.

You can check last week’s newsletter at www.reflexologysuccess.com for the first part of the article on Holistic Healing for the Skeletal System.

In it I talked about the skeleton and postural deformities as well as other skeletal problems and issues that might affect the bones or joints.

Lots of people suffer from back problems as they age due to vertebrae that start to become displaced. The result is stiffness and may lead to pain as well as a restriction in movement.

The skeletal system is affected by your lifestyle. From doing heavy work to leading a sedentary life or maybe not getting the right nutrition, the spine takes the brunt of all these situations and more.

How Can Reflexology Help

As my mom, Irene used to say, “an once of prevention is better than a pound of cure”.

You should always remember to wear proper equipment (and especially kids) while you’re participating in sports like football, hockey or soccer. Make sure you wear the helmet and proper knee and elbow pads.

Make sure that your posture is right while you are sitting at your desk or doing reflexology. Many of us tend to slouch while working. Try to consciously correct your posture while you are at work.

You should drink a lot of water and quit drinking spirits altogether. Alcohol doesn’t do any good to the body and the sooner you stop drinking, the better. Smoking too is an absolute no-no. It can make your bones more brittle by leaching nutrients out and you’ll wrinkle like a prune.

And last but not least – reduce stress in your life and get adequate rest.

So what will reflexology do for those aching bones… exactly what reflexology does:

It can reduce stress in your body and in your life.

It may improve circulation which is also good for healthy bones.

In addition, I believe that reflexology will strengthen the bones of the feet because bones respond to pressure and we do apply appropriate reflexology pressure to all sides of the feet.

I’ve had so many clients report that their back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, leg pain is gone or greatly reduced after one or a series of reflexology sessions.

The relaxation alone will help reduce the tension that’s held in the structure, letting the body return to a more balanced feeling.

Know where your skeletal reflexes are:

1.  Cervical Vertebrae Reflex –  Bilateral, medial aspect, proximal phalanx of hallux.

2.  Coccyx Reflex – Bilateral, medial aspect, posterior side of calcaneus.

3.  Hip/Back/Sciatic Reflex – Bilateral, posterior to medial and lateral malleolus.

4.  Knee/Leg/Hip Reflex – Bilateral, lateral aspect of mid-foot.

5.  Lumbar Vertebrae Reflex – Bilateral, medial aspect, mid-foot.

6.  Neck Reflex – Bilateral, shaft of proximal phalanx of the hallux.

7.  Ribs Reflex – Bilateral, dorsal aspect of metatarsals 1-5.

8.  Sacrum Reflex – Bilateral, medial aspect, anterior side of calcaneus.

9.  Shoulder/Arm Reflex – Bilateral, plantar, lateral and dorsal aspects of 5th metatarsal head.

10.  Spine Reflex – Bilateral, medial aspect from posterior calcaneus to Interphalangial Joint (IPJ) of hallux (transverses medial aspect of foot along the calcaneus, navicular, medial cuneiform, 1st metatarsal & proximal phalanx of great toe).

11.  Thoracic Vertebrae Reflex – Bilateral, medial aspect of 1st metatarsal.

You can detail each and every one of these skeletal reflexes. Don’t forget to include the muscular system reflexes (thrapezius reflex, abdominal reflexes, etc…)

I always include the reflex to the parathyroids because they are the glands that regulate calcium levels in the body. Do I even need to mention the pituitary reflex? Because it’s the master gland of the endocrine system it partners with the parathyroid reflex.

In addition:

Don’t forget – the magic is in the details

Be attentive and listen for what your clients needs.

Be clear about your reflex location.

Never work beyond your client’s pain threshold.

Hold the healing space as sacred.

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills or sessions.

©Wendy Coad, 2009

Wendy Coad, the “Reflexology Professor” helps reflexologists and aspiring reflexologists learn dynamic skills that attract clients and increase sales.

If you liked what you read today and want to learn more or refresh your skills, you’ll love Wendy’s www.thefootfactorprogram.com.

The Reflexology Professor has been sharing holistic health and “Reflexology News, Tips and Techniques” in classes, trainings and a weekly email newsletter to students and subscribers from around the world.

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Reflexology, World Reflexology Week, Halloween and the Skeletal System

September 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

How Does Halloween Feature in World Reflexology Week?

As we gear up for both World Reflexology Week and Halloween – for those adventuresome reflexologists who want to promote their business in new and unique ways – why not offer a promotional session in celebration of both: world reflexology week AND Halloween or “All Saints Day” (which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision – don’t take this the wrong way but this sounds close to where reflexology can take you while here on earthJ.

Yes, I’m talking about the skeletal system reflexes. (Not sure that this was a good spot to segueway into the article, but here goes…)

I wrote this article last year, but it’s such an important system that it bears repeating.

When it comes to pain and how it affects the body, most people think of the skeletal system first – as in the spine, hips, knees and shoulders. The skeletal system happens to be one of the most important systems of the body. If we treat it right and maintain it well, it will be happy to return the favor.

Holistic Healing For The Skeletal System

Your skeletal system comprises the bones of the body together with all the ligaments and tendons that connect them. The skeletal system functions to give you shape, protect the internal organs and facilitate your movement. It’s also where most of your blood is produced.

The skeletal system accounts for about 20% of the weight of your body. Locomotion like walking, dancing, and running are all possible due to the combined effort of the muscles together with the bones. When your muscle contracts it takes along the attached bone creating movement.

The spine, also known as the backbone provides the central support to the system. It’s comprised of 26 bones and has curves that absorb some impact and allow your body to balance itself.

Take minute right now and look at the medial (arch) side of your feet – see the curves that your arches and heels make. You’ll notice that it has the same curved shape as your actual spine.

The arch side of your foot, as we know, is the reflex to the spine.

The spine is comprised of several irregular bones called “vertebrae”, is made of spongy bone covered by a coating of compact bone. In between most of the bones is cartilage which keeps them from touching each other.

Your breast bones, comprised of your sternum and ribs provide a framework to enclose your chest. This case protects your heart and lungs.

The skull is also a part of the skeletal system. It protects your brain and encases all the glands in the skull as well.

Each hand has 27 bones while your foot has 26 bones. Interestingly your hand and feet contain more than half of the bones in your entire body! What’s amazing is that we are born with over 300 bones but as we age the bones start joining in and we end up with 206 bones!

And let’s not forget the joints – also an important part of your skeletal system – the points where your bones meet. Each bone of your body forms a joint with one or more other bones. The joints help you stretch, bend twirl and engage in all of your movements. Some people are double jointed which means that they are blessed with more flexible ligaments and as a result can bend them more than usual!

As you see, our skeletal system is extensive and stretches along the entire body. This is also one system that’s more prone to all the ill effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, wrong posture and accidents. Some issues that affect the skeletal system are below:

Fractures:

This is when a bone breaks. There are different types of fractures:

Simple – This happens when the bone breaks but without any damage to your outer skin.

Greenstick – When the bone does not crack completely. There is a partial crack.

Compound – This fracture occurs when the bone breaks and the outer skin is hurt as well.

Comminuted – A situation when the bone is broken into many pieces.

Did you know that the bone that’s most commonly fractured is the collar bone?

Bones are made up of living cells, they are full of nerves and blood vessels. When a fracture occurs, lots of blood is brought to the area to help your body rebuild your bone. In order to repair the damage, the blood forms clots as an adhesive mechanism, holding everything together.

Before doing reflexology on or around the site of a fracture, wait until the body has healed. There is some risk of clots breaking off and moving through the blood which may create a dangerous situation for the rest of the body.

Postural deformities:

Kyphosis – A case where there’s a hunch in the back. It happens when the spine curves outward.

Lordosis – This is the opposite of Kyphosis. It happens when the spine curves inward. This can happen due to faulty positioning or due to any spinal disease.

Scoliosis– This is the bending of the spine sideways. Certain abnormalities in the vertebrae or the muscles may lead to this.

Other skeletal problems

Some other issues that might affect the bones or joints are:

Arthritis: This is the result of the joints being inflamed. This results in swelling and the movement being restricted.

Osteoarthritis: A painful wearing down of the joints that leads to the movements being restricted.

Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a very common disease that affects mostly women. A disease of the immune system, the joints start getting damaged and this leads to the bones being deformed.

Gout: An affliction caused due to the accumulation of salts (uric acids) in the joints.

Osteoporosis: This happens as a result of loss of some of your bone tissue.

Lots of people suffer from back problems as they age due to vertebrae that start to become displaced. The result is stiffness and may lead to pain as well as a restriction in movement.

The skeletal system is affected by your lifestyle. From doing heavy work to leading a sedentary life or maybe not getting the right nutrition, the spine takes the brunt of all these situations and more.

All is not lost however. You can still eat right, exercise and get those bones to help you lead an active life. Some of the steps that you can follow are:

If you want your bones to stay strong and healthy, you need to put on those jogging shoes once again and get out in the crisp, fresh morning air for a walk or a jog. You can also engage in a lot of other sports and activities to keep your bones active. The more your bones are used, the better they remain.

You should always remember to wear proper equipment while you are into sports like football, hockey or lacrosse. Make sure you wear the helmet and proper knee and elbow pads.

Make sure that your posture is right while you are sitting at your desk or doing reflexology. Many of us tend to slouch while working. Try to consciously correct your posture while you are at work.

You should drink a lot of water and quit drinking spirits altogether. Alcohol doesn’t do any good to the body and the sooner you stop drinking, the better. Smoking too is an absolute no-no. It can make your bones more brittle by leaching nutrients out and you’ll wrinkle like a prune.

And last but not least – reduce stress in your life and take adequate rest.

Be nice to your bones and they’ll be nice to you!

Next week I’ll outline the session details and the exact point location of each of the skeletal reflexes.

So go and get your skeletons out of the closet and stay tuned – there’s a lot more to come…

Reflexology and the Adrenals

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

If you’ve ever doubted what these two little “Endocrine System Glands” can do, just watch the news sometime.

Anytime you hear of some heroic headline – “Firemen Rush into Burning Building”, or “Mother Lifts Car off Trapped Child”… the adrenal glands are implicated (such as in acts of strength and stamina as well as the downright super-human).

Let’s take a look at these amazing organs of the body, and then we’ll talk about their reflexology reflex points.

The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the star-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamines, including cortisol and adrenaline, respectively.

Anatomy and function

Anatomically, our adrenal glands are located in the abdominal cavity situated atop the kidneys, specifically on their anterosuperior aspect. They are also surrounded by the adipose capsule and the renal fascia. Found at the level of the 12th thoracic vertebra, they receive their blood supply from the adrenal arteries.

The adrenal gland is separated into two distinct structures, both of which receive regulatory input from the nervous system:

Adrenal medulla

The adrenal medulla consists of masses of neurons that are part of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. Instead of releasing their neurotransmitters at a synapse, these neurons release them into the blood. Thus, although part of the nervous system, the adrenal medulla functions as an endocrine gland.

The adrenal medulla releases:

• adrenaline (also called epinephrine) and

• noradrenaline (also called norepinephrine)

Release of adrenaline and noradrenaline is triggered by nervous stimulation in response to physical or mental stress.

Some of the effects are:

• increase in the rate and strength of the heartbeat resulting in increased blood pressure;

• blood shunted from the skin and viscera to the skeletal muscles, coronary arteries, liver, and brain;

• rise in blood sugar;

• increased metabolic rate;

• bronchi dilate;

• pupils dilate;

• hair stands on end (“goosebumps”);

• clotting time of the blood is reduced;

• increased ACTH secretion from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

All of these effects prepare the body to take immediate and vigorous action!

Adrenal cortex

Using cholesterol as the starting material, the cells of the adrenal cortex secrete a variety of steroid hormones.

These fall into three classes:

1. Glucocorticoids (e.g., cortisol)

The glucocorticoids get their name from their effect of raising the level of blood sugar (glucose). One way they do this is by stimulating gluconeogenesis in the liver: the conversion of fat and protein into intermediate metabolites that are ultimately converted into glucose.

The most abundant glucocorticoid is cortisol (also called hydrocortisone).

Cortisol and the other glucocorticoids also have a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the body. They depress the immune response, especially cell-mediated immune responses.

For this reason glucocorticoids are widely used in therapy:

• to reduce the inflammatory destruction of rheumatoid arthritis and other

autoimmune diseases

• to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs

• to control asthma

2. Mineralocorticoids (e.g., aldosterone)

The mineralocorticoids get their name from their effect on mineral metabolism. The most important of them is the steroid aldosterone.

Aldosterone acts on the kidney promoting the reabsorption of sodium ions (Na+) into the blood. Water follows the salt and this helps maintain normal blood pressure.

Aldosterone also

• acts on sweat glands to reduce the loss of sodium in perspiration;

• acts on taste cells to increase the sensitivity of the taste buds to sources of sodium.

3. Androgens (e.g., testosterone)

The adrenal cortex secretes precursors to androgens such as testosterone.

In sexually-mature males, this source is so much lower than that of the testes that it is probably of little physiological significance. However, excessive production of adrenal androgens can cause premature puberty in young boys.

In females, the adrenal cortex is a major source of androgens. Their hypersecretion may produce a masculine pattern of body hair and cessation of menstruation.

Fight-or-flight response

The fight-or-flight response, also called the fright, fight or flight response, hyperarousal or the acute stress response. We react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing. Thisactivation is associated with specific physiological actions in the system, both directly and indirectly through the release of epinephrine (adrenaline) and to a lesser extent norepinephrine from the medulla of the adrenal glands.

An “Adrenaline Rush” means an activity of the Adrenal gland in a Fight-or-flight response, when it is releasing Adrenaline (Epinephrine). A chronic hyper adrenaline is a common symptom of an anxiety disorder.

So much packed into such a small package!

And, what does it mean to reflexologists?

If you have a client who’s stressed, anxious, overworked, overtired or who just lives in New York City – you’ll probably notice a “change in tissue texture” around the adrenal gland reflex on the foot (it’ll likely be sensitive on the hand reflex area as well – don’t flex too hard there – rather work into the point gradually).

Well we know that stress is s big factor in our everyday lives, but when there’s added stress due to emotional issues, health issues, daily life issues… Now, who couldn’t use a little support.

Our first task is to find the reflex points:

On the feet the “Adrenal Gland Reflex” is located on the lateral shaft of the 1st metatarsal, close to the base. That puts it (vertically) between metatarsals one and 2 and (horizontally) approximately half way between the waist and the diaphragm reflex line landmarks.

Usually you can’t miss it. There’s often a BIG change in the tissue texture! Now, don’t think you’re dying if you find it to be sore on your foot.

Remember it’s a “call for energy” and not a verifiable illness.

However, it’s in your client’s best interest to spend a little TLC time on that reflex point. Roll into it or hold it steady. Is there one way that’s better than another to work that little point… probably, but it’s not because “The Professor” said so it’s what the tissue needs – so “listen” to the tissue.

I love to work on this reflex point and don’t be surprised if you notice it can even be found on other reflex zones.

What else can you do?

A big adrenal stimulator is caffeine. It’ll increase the release of our stress related hormones and it keeps the body in a continuous, and unnecessary, state of stress – which can stress the adrenals along with other organs and glands. If this goes on for too long, you’ll probably notice other symptoms like fatigue, irritability, allergies, sleeplessness and… and inability to cope with stress. Not fun.

Always check with a professional before treating yourself (and don’t even think about treating others unless you’re a doctor). Some self-help texts say that small amounts of licorice help by acting as a re-uptake inhibitor for adrenaline. But, too much licorice can increase other hormones, so only use in small quantities.

Other than reflexology, one of the safest and most effective ways to combat stress that comes to mind is meditation.

There’s much more I’d like to share on this topic, so look for the next installment, coming soon.

Here’s a quote by Rachel Carson, who sums up an important perspective for well being:

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

Hand Reflexology and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

March 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

Every reflexologist needs to know about the carpal tunnel. It’s important because you’ll have clients that complain about it. Equally important – you want to avoid getting it yourself. And, if you already have it you need to be especially careful.

You’ve heard me over and over again – I say that we reflexologists don’t treat, don’t prescribe and don’t diagnose. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know what’s going on.

Clients often hope that reflexology will be a magic bullet to their health woes. I can’t say it will be, and I can’t help but smiling too.

Why?

Because, most people will experience a reduction in pain and/or symptoms with Hand Reflexology. That’s true for local issues on the hands – even though they’re not the intended destination.

This is important – let me explain.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is pain or weakness in your forearm and hand caused by pressure on a nerve in your wrist.  It is a medical condition in which the median nerve is compressed at the wrist, leading to paresthesias, numbness and muscle weakness in the hand.

The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers (although not the little finger), as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.

The carpal tunnel – a narrow, rigid passage way of ligament and bones at the base of the hand – houses the median nerve and tendons.

Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the median nerve to be compressed.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome:

Symptoms most often occur in the parts of the hand supplied by the median nerve: the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger.

If your little finger is not affected, this may be a sign that the condition is carpal tunnel syndrome, because the little finger is usually controlled by a different nerve (the ulnar nerve) than the thumb and other fingers.

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers (especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers).
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often the result of a combination of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel, rather than a problem with the nerve itself.

Some other symptoms are:

  • Tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain felt in the fingers or, less commonly in the pal
  • Pain in your forearm, wrist or palm
  • More numbness or pain at night than during the day. The pain may be so bad it wakes you up. You may shake or rub your hand to get relief
  • More pain when you use your hand or wrist more
  • Trouble gripping object
  • Weakness in your thumb

Fact: Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps because the carpal tunnel itself may be smaller in women than in men.

Causes:

The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes might be due to work conditions or due to underlying medical problems.

Other causes that could lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are:

  • Pregnancy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other causes of inflammation of the wrist
  • Endocrine disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism
  • Wrist fracture
  • Alcoholism

Risk associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

The following are risk factors associated with the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Repetition
  • High force
  • Awkward joint posture
  • Direct pressure
  • Vibration, and
  • Prolonged constrained posture
  • Poor ergonomics

Diagnosis:

If you, or your client has some or all of these symptoms – unless you’re a medical professional you cannot diagnose it.

In fact, when a client tells me they have carpal tunnel syndrome I always ask who made the diagnosis. It makes a difference whether it was a doctor or a specialist – or their aunt Betty or someone at the local gym.

There are a few simple tests that can be done to check general function of the wrist (you’ll learn those in the Hand Reflexology Workshop and more). This will help emphasize the importance for your client to seek the appropriate medical help.

Of course, early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid permanent damage to the median nerve.

A physical examination of the hands, arms, shoulders, and neck can help determine if the patient’s complaints are related to an underlying disorder or to daily activities.

The wrist is examined for tenderness, swelling, warmth, and discoloration.

Each finger should be tested for sensation, and the muscles at the base of the hand should be examined for strength and signs of atrophy.

Routine laboratory tests and X-rays can reveal diabetes, arthritis, and fractures.

Treatment:

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 some patients.

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?
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 about. 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, usually – 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 apparent 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.

Are you a Professional Reflexologist?

January 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Reflexology Teaching

It’s been a busy 12 months and that’s just how I like it. It took a long time, but I finally realized that if I want to be successful at reflexololgy and business, I had to be willing to keep on learning.

It’s a well know success principle – the work you do on improving your skills is the a BIG factor in how well you do.

Let me point out my favorites.

You’re as current as the last training.

Yes, you might be practicing and doing a good job, but there’s more to continuing education than meets the eye.

Everything that you’re doing is being done in the way that you know how. It will always have the same habits and parameters… and might just get a little stale.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone will effect change in several ways.

1. You get to experience someone else’s take on what you do. Why would this be of interest? Because they will be presenting it differently, they’ll have a look, feel, style that you can draw from.

2. Surround yourself with like-minded people. This is a huge energizer. The gathering of different students with different interests creates a networking opportunity. That’s one of the best parts of any learning experience.

I’ve actually gone to several workshops just to network. The course material is a bonus. Contacts, colleagues and friends made in the program were worth the price of admission. (Here’s a reality check – paying tuition of $1,000.00 a day, or more, is standard for workshops in the top professional fields.)

3. Find the best to learn from. There are a lot of people offering a lot of information, but the people who have been around and have solid programs are going to attract a more professional group of students – not to mention more information and experience to share.

4. Find a coach, a Mentor or a Mastermind Group. Stay in contact with someone who is doing what your want to do or doing it better than you are currently. The cost of the investment should be made back many times over.

We’ve all looked to others to model our practices. Pick a good model.

5. Invest in your practice. For some this means putting aside the time and for others it means you have to lose the poverty mentality. It doesn’t mean that you can’t work with people who can’t pay, but you too deserve to earn a living and you won’t if you don’t have balance in the the financial’s.

6. Go out and get some reflexology and pay for it. Find the best and most expensive practitioner you can and leave a really big tip too. Yes, I know there’s better than a 50% chance you’ll be disappointed because there really isn’t that much great reflexology out there, but it will teach you one or more of these 3 things:

a.) You can be happy you did because you got some “dynamite” reflexology. In addition, a couple of the techniques that you experienced are new or different and you can use them in your sessions too.

Or,…

b.) The session was lousy, so now you know for sure that people will pay well to have even mediocre reflexology. Imagine how thrilled they’ll be when they get the real deal from you!

And, therefore…

baseballc.) You’ll be confident that your work is 10 times better (and it will be if you trained with me or one of my colleagues – someone who really does know how to teach). Some practitioners claim to be reflexologists with only 16 – 20 hours of training… I rest my case.

After all you’ve had a minimum of 200 hours of reflexology specific techniques, anatomy & physiology, and practicum. (And, some of my students have had 500 hours of unique reflexology training – you can’t beat that.)

So, all you have to do is tap into your own goldmine.

That’s what my reflexology skills are to me – my goldmine. I have 8 years of college, a post graduate degree, up to 10,000 hours of bodywork training and yet, I make a great living and have a great life with reflexology.

I work for myself and I skip to work. I’m so happy, helping people have a better quality of life and “healing the world one foot at a time”™.

If you’re not there and you’d like to be, then implementing the above will help you – “step up to the reflexology plate”.

“Live long, reflex and prosper”