Reflexology for athletes
Over the years I have worked with many athletes and sportspeople with some great results. Whether it’s helping them to recover from injury, treating them pre-race or pre-match to help optimize their performance, or after the event to ease aching muscles and aid recovery, they have all come to recognise the benefits reflexology can bring.
Sport is not the first thing that springs to mind when you talk about reflexology. However, many of the benefits of reflexology – relaxing of body and mind, increased blood flow to targeted areas, pain and stress reduction – make it a very effective therapy for helping improve athletic performance.
Aside from playing better or running faster, improving performance also means strengthening the body. Helping it become less susceptible to injury and illness, reducing the recovery time needed and allowing the athlete to train more frequently.
The aim of all athletes, whether professional or amateur, is to reach optimum performance and maintain health and fitness, both physically and mentally. Competitive sport can often involve high stress situations, and in order to perform well and recover quickly, the body and the mind need to be resilient during the event and able to re-balance afterwards. Reflexology addresses all these aspects, both the mental and physical, with the end result often being improved athletic performance.
Closing the Gap
The very nature of sport means that being able to squeeze that extra one or two per cent out of your body, can be the difference between 1st and 4th place, or being in the first team rather than just part of the squad. As a result, people are constantly searching for new approaches, diets or therapies to gain that extra advantage and edge over their rivals.
Reflexology could be the answer. There are very few contra-indications, treatments can be quick and administered at almost any time. As it does not involve direct stimulation, it is very unlikely to aggravate any existing condition and works well alongside more conventional approaches such as allopathic medicine, physiotherapy and massage. In fact, more and more athletes are now adding this simple and effective treatment to their body maintenance schedule.
On a physical level, susceptibility to injury and the ability to recover quickly from injury and exertion are key aspects that can affect performance. The less susceptible to injury you are and the quicker you recover, the more you can train and the harder you can push yourself and so on.
Surprisingly very little attention is normally paid to mobilizing and massaging the feet, despite the integral role they play. Even if you discount the reflexological effect, a gentle manipulation of the feet and a working out of the knots in the muscles, tendons and ligaments, can have huge benefits on the body. However, when you include the other aspects the benefits are multiplied.
As well as working on a physical level, reflexology also helps with mental and emotional well-being. On a mental level, reflexology helps achieve that balance between anxiety and desire. Too much or too little of either can negatively affect performance (we’ve all experienced that feeling of playing within ourselves or with too much aggression/confidence). Many of my clients say that a reflexology treatment sends them into a state similar to that of meditation, giving them just the right amount of focus for a big event.
Key Benefits of Reflexology for Athletes
1) Relieves stress and tension
2) Aids muscle repair - long term injury and minor tears that occur after strenuous exercise
3) Increases blood flow to muscles
4) Relaxation and increased focus to prepare the mind
5) Improves sleep – ideal for before a big event
6) Helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation
7) Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients
8) Improves immune function to reduce risk of illness
9) Improves heart, lung and organ functioning for optimum performance
10) Can help identify potential areas of weakness and tightness
11) Releases tension in muscles in the feet
12) Can work indirectly on a problem without risk of aggravating it
13) Restores mental and emotional wellbeing
Reflexology in Practice
Reflexology is very easy to work into your existing maintenance schedule or pre-match routine. Many clients choose to have a session just before a big event to calm nerves, reduce anxiety and tension and loosen tight muscles, or the night before to aid a restful night’s sleep.
After training reflexology helps minimise soreness and aid recovery. If you suffer from an injury, reflexology aids healing and is a natural, drug-free pain reliever that won’t have any adverse effects on your body. It can be undertaken as frequently as you like.
If this is an area you’d like to learn more about or are wondering whether I can help you, please get in touch.
Reflexology at the Holmewood School
The Holmewood School, London is a school for international and local children with high functioning autism, Asperger's Syndrome, language, communication and social pragmatic difficulties and those associated with ADHD and specific learning difficulties.
It opened in September 2010 with 6 pupils and has flourished ever since, with the school now at its current full capacity of 38.
Their aim is to enable every child to flourish by encouraging and building upon their unique strengths and interests. Pupils are supported to develop and deploy strategies that overcome and cope with their difficulties. In addition to academic achievement, the focus at THSL is on developing every child's social, emotional and personal skills.
Every child has access to a team of skilled teachers, therapists, and professionals who work together to ensure each has a learning programme tailored to their specific needs. Families are offered the support and advice they need to feel confident and informed about their child’s needs and future prospects.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to work at the school for the last 4 years, providing reflexology treatments for those children that want them. It has been fascinating and very rewarding time.
At first it was a real challenge to get the children to try it out. Some weren’t comfortable with being touched, some found it ticklish, some found it painful, some couldn’t sit still for more than a couple of minutes; but we got there in the end. Starting with very short treatments, with teachers or assistants present, talking through exactly what I was doing and how it might help, I slowly built up their trust and now treatments are around 20 minutes.
Of course not every pupil wants to try, but those that do really look forward to their weekly sessions. It helps them relax, reduces anxiety, improves concentration, regulate mood swings and aids their digestion, which is problematic for a lot of the children.
I see around 10 to 15 pupils every week, with others trying occasionally and am always looking to get new people to try it.
I have also recently started treating staff as well. Teaching is hugely demanding and exhausting job, and the reflexology helps them cope more effectively with all the pressures and strengthens their resistance to illness.