Feet can be a strange concept and people I meet nearly always find it fascinating that I have taken it upon myself to work with feet. I often hear questions like; “What if the person is ticklish?”, “Does reflexology hurt?” and “I don’t like people looking at/touching my feet”
Every reflexologist has their own unique way of touching, holding and working with the feet. These are my solutions.
As somebody who initially was so ticklish I couldn’t bear the thought of someone even looking at my feet, never mind touching them, I feel I am sufficiently equipped to explain how reflexology deals with this.
I feel that trust is a massive factor when it comes to clients with ticklish feet. I have had a number of clients with ticklish feet and I generally found that the psychological outweighs the physical, in that, they were so in anticipation of the ‘tickle’ that they were feeling it before I had even touched them. Clients with ticklish feet will generally find the initial touches a little uncomfortable, however as soon as they realise that the pressure is firm they begin to trust and relax. The more they relax the less ticklish they become.
As the reflexology treatment progresses there are certain areas of the feet which, typically, are more ticklish than others e.g. in between the toes. Certain areas like this can be avoided in the initial treatment if it becomes too disruptive to the individual. In all of my experiences with clients and their ticklish feet, including my own, I have found that over a number of treatments the tickle completely subsides. It is said that people who initially have ticklish feet come to love reflexology all the more as they are more sensitive to the subtleties of movement and pressure and so can sometimes find the treatment more profound than others. I can honestly put my hand up now and say that I no longer feel any tickle at all when receiving reflexology, even between the toes!
I myself have received reflexology in the past that was painful and even a bit rough at times but this is not something that is common to all reflexologists. If it is a concern of yours, feel free to ask the therapist prior to making that initial appointment.
That said, when there are energetic and physical imbalances in the body, these are reflected on the feet and often the areas on the feet which correspond to the imbalance are tender to the touch. They can feel ‘bruised’ and as the reflexologist presses on these they can feel uncomfortable. Generally the reflexologist will be able to discern what these areas are and adjust the pressure accordingly.
I feel that it is imperative to have clear communication with my clients so that they feel free to discuss these issues with me and draw my attention to if and when they feel discomfort. Although the touch I use in my treatments is firm and deep I vary the intensity as I work across the foot and the majority of my clients actually fall asleep. For me relaxation* is paramount to the treatment’s success and depth of healing and therefore would not want any of my clients to be in discomfort during as I feel this would detract from the benefits of reflexology. It is important to me to work ‘with’ the client’s pain and not ‘against’ it.
Podiaphobia?- Strong aversion to feet
Some people have heard of the benefits of reflexology and long to try it out but as soon as they learn that it involves the feet they are disgusted. Some people genuinely have a fear of feet or ‘podiaphobia’, others just have a very strong aversion to feet. I am sometimes asked what can be done in these situations.
I believe that if somebody is having such a strong reaction it is wrong to force them to confront it face on, unless you are a specialised therapist in the area of phobias, so I don’t encourage people to jump in at the deep-end with a reflexologist. In the case of a potential client having this fear I merely offer hand reflexology as an alternative. Hand reflexology (believe it or not) can be just as profound and relaxing as foot reflexology. Hand reflexology can also be a great option in situations where there is impaired mobility, injury or if the feet are inaccessible for any reason.
On occasion, after a number of hand reflexology treatments, a client may feel ‘ready’ to receive foot reflexology. It can sometimes simply be a matter of trust.
I will be writing more about hand reflexology and its benefits in upcoming posts.
*relaxation – What constitutes relaxation, within the context of reflexology, is working to induce the client’s parasympathetic nervous system.