The soothing effect of touch on our joints is like a sensual ingredient with ultimate healing effect. For painful joints, the appeal is even more remarkable when appropriate pressure is applied to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears. This is called reflexology.
Reflexologists believe that these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and general health, scientists from the University of Minnesota, US, said in a finding.
For example, reflexology holds that a specific spot in the arch of the foot corresponds to the bladder point. When a reflexology practitioner uses thumbs or fingers to apply appropriate pressure to this area, it affects bladder functioning.
“Although reflexology is not used to diagnose or cure health disorders, millions of people around the world use it to complement other treatments when addressing conditions such as anxiety, asthma, cancer treatment, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, headaches, kidney function, PMS, and sinusitis,” the scientists said.
However, perhaps because the practice is still alien to African culture, many misgivings keep clouding people’s minds, although the trend can be said to be more flexible in Rwanda than in the neighbouring Uganda. Two years ago, Uganda’s Ministry of Health banned reflexology, citing “misleading of the public and lack of basic training in the practice. The ban was lifted after sustained court battle.
Jerome Shaka, an accountant with USAID, is one of those in Rwanda who have benefited from this complementary therapy. Shaka said he had back problems for six months and would always feel pain, adding that the pain was sharper whenever he tried jogging. He thought the pain was because he would spend long hours sitting in the office.
“I tried to exercise my body but the pain persisted, so I later decided to go for radiology in Nairobi to establish the cause of the pain. That was when I discovered that I had a terrible back ache and was advised to either go for physiotherapy or reflexology. I opted for reflexology because I liked being massaged,” Shaka said.
Back into the country, he started getting treatment at a local reflexology centre that took him six weeks. “I would get my treatment once a week for six weeks and I can assure you that I am now fine. I jog every evening without feeling any pain, thanks to reflexology.”
Complementary to medicine
Reflexology is a noninvasive therapy which has many health benefits; it’s is the technique used in the ancient times which involved the holistic healing method that empowers the body and the general mind to heal it’s self through the stimulation of reflexes found in the feet, hands ,face and palms.
This deeply relaxing treatment helps to release blockages in the flow of blood, energy, releasing tension, stiffness in the muscles and pain around the body which induce a deep sense of relaxation empowering each body system.
Reflexology is applied in the small reflex points that locate other body systems and parts, a gentle pressure is exerted on small tiny nerve endings which work as impulses that stimulate or trigger corresponding areas to give a natural cure. These take massage to other parts of the body like the central nervous system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, cardiovascular system and others.
According to Gerald Luzindana, a consultant with Amazon Nutrition and Reflexology Therapy, the complementary practice differs from other medical practices.
“Since it’s a natural treatment, there is nothing else we put inside some one’s body, we just empower some one’s body healing mechanism to self-treat and balance the body functioning,” Luzindana said.
He said reflexology does not contradict with other medical practices though precaution has to be taken by both a practitioner and the client who might be undergoing a medical treatment.
“The fact that reflexology is a complementary therapy means that it can be done with other practices,” Luzindana said.
According to Nathan Mugume, the officer in charge of communications in the Ministry of Health, to start a reflexology centre in Rwanda, one has to register with Rwanda Development Board and seek certification from the Allied Health Professional Council.
Dr Samuel Kagali, of Kacyiru Police Hospital, advises that medical personnel should work with reflexologists, because the practice complements modern medicine.
“I personally go for reflexology because it relaxes my nerves and calms my stress level. I also refer some of my patients for reflexology because if someone is massaged, for example, on the back, there is increase in the blood flow in the body,” Dr Kagali said.
He said they should work hand in hand with medical practitioners.
The growing increase of reflexology popularity is due to the increased awareness of the importance of reflexology therapy, which indicates that people who visit centres that offer these services benefit from the practice.
“In modern society we have very many diseases and ailment and it is the in the same sense that we are busy with a lot of work accompanied by long hours of sitting, standing.
This makes it hard to give our body enough rest, this break down contributes to serious health disorders among which is persisting stress, digestive disorders and due to low body mobility in form of exercises we fall sick.
It is in this sense and the exact circumstances reflexology is advised. This has increased the number of people visiting our centers because it what this therapy retrieves,” Luzindana said.