Could reflexology really help you de-stress?

Reflexology works by applying pressure to the feet and hands

Reflexology works by applying pressure to the feet and hands - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Everyone has been affected in some way by the Coronavirus pandemic – whether that’s from having contacted the virus and potentially experienced the effects of long Covid or the emotional impact of the stress and intense worry it has caused. 

And stress and anxiety can have a huge impact on how we function. 

“When we are stressed or feel panicked, our physiological response it to increase the ‘stress hormones’ in the adrenal glands, which are then released into the bloodstream to help us cope with the stressful situation,” says East Anglian wellbeing practitioner Sarah Groves. 

East Anglian wellbeing practitioner Sarah Groves

East Anglian wellbeing practitioner Sarah Groves - Credit: Sarah Groves

“If these remain elevated, which has been the case for many during the pandemic, then our balance of hormones and other bodily systems can become disrupted.  We can be left with symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or depression,” she says. 

But, says Sarah, reflexology could help.  


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This week is World Reflexology Week. One of the oldest natural therapies, it works on the principle that the feet and hands perfectly map the body. 

“There is evidence that forms of pressure work on the hands and feet have been used throughout history by many ancient cultures to promote healing and relieve pain,” says Sarah, who qualified as a reflexologist in 2009. 

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“By working on the feet, we provide stimulus to the reflexes corresponding to the relevant areas in the body. As we work, we can give attention to the areas that require balancing to encourage the body to do its own healing. 

“With the pressure applied, through the various movements used during a treatment, the nervous system and circulatory system are stimulated, which improves blood flow and helps better functioning of all the organs and structures of the body,” she says. 

And because reflexology is relaxing, it’s great for easing stress and anxiety. 

“The physiological response that happens when we receive a treatment that we enjoy is hugely beneficial to our health.  It boosts our oxytocin levels, our ‘feel-good’ hormone, which helps to induce a calmer state, lower stress, improve sleep, and boost immunity,” says Sarah. 

“With the grounding and sense of calmness a reflexology treatment provides, the therapy is very popular for people experiencing stress and anxiety, as well as those struggling with Long Covid symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath or joint pain.” 

Sarah, who runs Feel Good Therapies, is passionate about health and wellbeing and guiding others in finding their own path to feeling good. 

“What it is to be healthy and to feel good is unique to all of us, so I like to work holistically with each of my clients to discover the various ways they can improve how they feel physically, emotionally, and mentally,” she says. 

Sarah first experienced reflexology at a yoga class in 2007.  

“During the relaxation at the end of the session my teacher placed her thumbs on the middle of the soles of my feet.  It felt amazing and sent me into a deeply calm state,” she says.  

“I asked her after the class what technique she was using, she explained that it was reflexology and asked would I like to book a session to try a full treatment.   

“I said ‘yes, please!’ and the following week, I enjoyed the most relaxing treatment I had ever experienced. By what she felt during the session, and from reading certain areas of my feet, she made some suggestions of what could be going on for me, it was all spot on.   

“Once in the car, I sobbed the whole way home. It had triggered a release for sure.   

“After a few more sessions, I was feeling a lot lighter emotionally and my lower back pain had eased.  I was in awe of the effects reflexology had on me.” 

Sarah enquired about training, and she was pointed towards Pathways School of Reflexology and she signed up for a course with Angela Sellens Drake.  

“The course was for a level three diploma in reflexology and took place over a year.  It involved exploring the history of reflexology, studying anatomy and physiology, learning all the individual techniques which led to a full sequence, covering all the bodily systems, as well as understanding the emotional influence reflexology can have,” says Sarah. 

She qualified as a reflexologist in November 2009 – and then on New Year’s Eve discovered she was going to become a mother. 

“Going into 2010, I started a whole new path,” she says. 

Sarah furthered her training by doing courses in maternity reflexology, baby and toddler reflexology, fertility reflexology, Indian head massage and more and started building her working practice in 2013 after her second baby was born. 

“In 2014 I was invited to join the Norwich Natural Fertility Partnership (NNFP), and this has grown into a wonderful collective of practitioners who are all passionate about supporting our clients through their conception journey, during pregnancy, and beyond.  It is an honour to work amongst them,” says Sarah. 

“Most recently I have certified as a traditional postpartum care practitioner which means I am able to support and care for my clients during the precious and unique transformative time that is becoming parents. 

“I also love treating non-maternity related clients and seeing the fantastic effects reflexology has had on their conditions including stress, anxiety, insomnia, eczema, IBS, MS, fibroids, back pain, bursitis, and diabetes, to name but a few. 

“My clients are often surprised at how relaxed they feel after a session and pleased with what improvement they can notice in their health after a few treatments.”   

As well as working from her treatment room at home, Sarah has worked in two wellbeing clinics. In 2019, she fulfilled her dream of opening her own therapy room in Norwich city centre in a courtyard in the Norwich Lanes. 

To find out more about reflexology and how it may help manage health conditions, contact Sarah by emailing sarah@fgt-norfolk.co.uk or visit her website, www.fgt-norfolk.co.uk 

The benefits of reflexology can include alleviating stress and anxiety

The benefits of reflexology can include alleviating stress and anxiety - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

What happens during a reflexology session? 
“When my clients arrive for their appointment I welcome them in, and we spend some time chatting through their health conditions and any concerns they may have so that I can identify how I can best support them and the type of treatment they would most benefit from,” says Sarah. 
“One of the wonderful things about reflexology is that we only need to access the hands or feet. So, after the consultation, my client can simply take their shoes and socks off and get comfy on the massage couch. They may choose to have some relaxing sounds on, or they may prefer to enjoy the quiet of the space.   

“As I practise light touch reflexology, which is incredibly gentle and soothing, I don’t need to use any creams or oils, just a little bit of talcum powder. Of course, if I feel it is needed or if it is preferred, then I may use a slightly firmer pressure which is when I would also introduce some oil.” 

A full reflexology treatment is 45 minutes long, although shorter and longer sessions are an option. 

“My clients may like to chat throughout or for some of the session, as this can feel therapeutic. Others will close their eyes and observe the sensations the treatment can induce and drift off into a deep relaxed state, or even fall asleep!” 

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