Reflexology is a massage using pressure points on the hands or feet which correspond to organs, systems and parts of the body, stimulating them so that they each work at their optimum and thus helping to create balance within the body. It is a technique which can aid health, encourage relaxation, prevent stress and disease, reduce pain and improve quality of life by unblocking energy channels and activating the body’s own healing mechanisms.
Performing reflexology on yourself has the advantage of being convenient and can help break up stresses in your feet, hands and body. You can use self-help tools at home when you are relaxing on the sofa or before going to bed at night, or you can use these tools on your commute, to prepare for work or unwind after work, and at your desk to energise and de-stress. The hand tools are often more convenient, discreet and require little effort, though working the feet can have more powerful effects.
There are many techniques and reflex points which could be worked on to give a thorough treatment for both hands and feet, however here we’re focusing on just the digestive system on the hands and a few simple movements that should be a good introduction to hand reflexology.
Reflexology has been found to improve the peristaltic action in the colon, so working reflex areas that correspond to the digestive system may help bring relief for issues such as constipation by speeding up the elimination process and reducing the time the digestive tract takes to empty.
*contraindications to hand reflexology massage*
The following massage sequence should not be carried out if you have any of these conditions:
- cancer unless with medical permission
- areas of undiagnosed pain
- rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis resulting from inflammation in the space between the joints – the massage may be painful and cause damage – seek medical permission
- chilblains, Raynaud’s disease – seek medical permission
- diseases of the nervous system (mainly Parkinson’s) seek medical permission
- cuts, sprains, blisters, scabs, rashes etc.
Please seek approval from your doctor before commencing massage if you suffer from any serious medical condition, such as cardio-vascular conditions, or have had any recent operations/surgery.
Self-help hand reflexology massage
Start by warming up the hands, to relax and prepare them. Pull gently on your thumb and each finger in turn to loosen the joints and massage each one from knuckle to fingertip to help relieve the compression that fingers are subject to during the day.
The reflex areas for the digestive organs cover a broad area, and are found on both hands, so using a small ball, such as a golf ball, is ideal due to its size and shape, allowing you to easily work both hands at once. (see fig.1) You can roll the ball around the middle of both palms to warm up your hands.
Target the digestive reflex areas by lacing your fingers together and rolling the golf ball between the palms of the hands. Focus the pressure on the heel of the hand, which covers the small and large intestine reflex area (see fig.2)
Cup the ball in the left hand, use the fingers and palm of your right hand on top to hold the ball in place and then roll the golf ball into the webbed area between the base of index finger and the thumb on the left hand, the stomach reflex.
Then change hands and roll the ball on the right hand, through the gall bladder and liver reflex areas. (see fig.3)
If you find a sensitive spot it can be good to pinpoint it and work into it more, within your pain threshold and comfort zone. You may find some areas are tender or you may find some crunchy crystallised areas which may become less sensitive and smooth out in texture over time with regular working on those areas.
You can work on specific points, such as the stomach reflex area shown in fig.4, by applying pressure with the thumb or fingers of your other hand and massaging with small circular rotations. You can also work across larger areas such as the small intestine and colon reflex area on the heel of the hands or the liver reflex area on the right hand, with a caterpillar-like movement, taking small steps of pressure with the tip of your thumb in directional lines.
Please refer to the diagrams, fig. 5 and fig.6, showing the various reflex areas which correspond to the digestive system on the palms of the left and right hands.
Fig.5 (left palm)
These hand reflexology massages can be done for a few minutes to 10 minute, up to 3 times a day.