Rather than turn to pain killers and chocolate when pre-menstrual symptoms strike, it’s a good idea to have a look around at all-natural alternatives. One such alternative remedy is foot reflexology — a traditional Chinese medicine that can help relieve symptoms by targeting specific pressure points in the feet.
Given we’re celebrating the Chinese New Year, it seems fitting to unearth all the benefits of this ancient Chinese practice so we spoke to Ivy Han of Lianzi Health Oasis about how reflexology can help relieve PMT, the pressure points we need to target at home, and what to expect at a professional treatment.
RESCU: What is foot reflexology and how does it differ from a standard foot massage?
Ivy Han: Reflexology, although it’s often combined with massage, is technically not a form of massage. It’s a separate practice that applies pressure to reflex zones on your feet. The basic theory underlying applying pressure to reflex zones is that the pressure affects the nerves, which then carry signals to other parts of your body. Reported benefits include relaxation, improved lymphatic drainage and blood circulation. These benefits help relieve the effects of stress, which in turn helps your body find balance and heal itself.
Standard foot massage can’t do that much to the human body. Foot massage is the manipulation of soft tissue. By rubbing the muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, and joints of your feet, you temporarily feel relaxed and relieved. But long-term health benefits, reflexology would be a better choice.
Can reflexology help with PMT symptoms?
Ivy Han: Yes, Reflexology allows the body to de-stress and relax, stimulating the body’s own healing systems to work more effectively and efficiently to help the body return back to its natural state of balance.
It is wonderful at targeting specific areas of the body highly implicated with PMT such as the liver, kidney areas as well as helping to balance the nervous and hormonal systems. It also helps women to let go of emotions and mental stress.
RESCU: How long will the results last? Will PMT symptoms be alleviated for hours/days to come?
Ivy Han: It varies and is determined by the client’s health. But in general, effects from reflexology will last about one week and results are often cumulative. Thus, you are more likely to see greater and long-lasting benefits from regular sessions (for example, once a week for six weeks).
Yes, the massage the therapists applies will stimulate the nervous system to heal itself. Research has shown that reflexology can reduce the number of PMT days and the PMT symptoms.
RESCU: If we’re about to go to our first ever reflexology session, what can we expect to happen?
Ivy Han: In Liangzi, you will be lead to our special reflexology room and sit on the soft electric massage chair which can be easily adjusted to the most comfortable position. You will be asked to put on our comfortable massage clothes during the reflexology.
You will enjoy a hot foot spa using Chinese herbs first, and then the therapists will wash your feet, before starting the treatment. The session generally starts at the sole, and works up to the toes of foot, then towards the areas on the sides and top of the foot. A complete reflexology therapy session uses many different techniques and includes all of the points on both feet. By working all of the points, the therapist addresses internal organs and glands as well as muscle groups, bones, nerve ganglions and nerves during a session.
It is worth mentioning that, Liangzi has strict service standards based on decades of practice, such as:
We require all our employees to:
Welcome the customers with a big smile at 3 metres of distance;
Go up and greet them upon 1 metre range ;
Always smile with 8 teeth showing;
When carrying out foot spas, the depth of the water must be at 18cm deep, because at this depth, it delivers greatest comfort without spilling out the water.
And when delivering the foot wash, the water must be 12cm in depth, as it is easier to clean off the massaging gel while not spilling out any water.
The “4143” Standard
Water temperature for the foot spa is specifically controlled at 41 degrees in summer and 43 degrees in Winter. At such temperatures, recipients can achieve the best blood circulation in the shortest time possible, without feeling overheated.
RESCU: And how will we feel during the treatment? Is there any pain associated at all?
Ivy Han: Experiences with reflexology sessions vary from a general sense of relaxation and rest to a conscious awareness internally of the area of the body where the therapist is working through the foot.
Many people experience a “lightness” or tingling in the body, as well as feelings of warmth, a sense of “opening,” or “energy moving” from the therapist’s pressure to the specific body area or organ. There is often a physical perception of energy flowing through every organ, valve, gland, or muscle, as well as a sense of communication between each body system.
RESCU: What are your top reflexology-at-home tips for PMT?
1. Have a review of foot reflexology chart to familiarize yourself with where these reflex points are located before beginning.
2. Bath your feet before you start.
3. Rub a small amount of moisturising lotion to your sole but not enough to make it slippery.
4. Gently work on the reflex points of
Pituitary Gland (to help with water retention and regulating hormones)
Brain/Head (calms nerves and improves circulation)
Spine (calms the nerves and brings out Serotonin)
Ovaries (regulates hormones)
Uterus (to ease cramps)
Fallopian Tubes (relieves pain in pelvic area)
Chest/Breast (for tender breasts and to help lymphatic system)
Rescu. Recommends: We experienced a foot reflexology treatment at Liangzi Health Oasis in Sydney one evening after a particularly busy day in the office. Not only was the course of the treatment incredibly relaxing, but it seemed to have some longer term benefits. After the treatment, we had one of the most restful night’s sleep we have had in a long time and woke up early in the morning bright and bushy tailed. It’s clear these pressure points are no joke, and its nice to know we can complement the occasional treatment with some at-home practice to really reap the benefits.
Image Credit: jessica-reflexology.com