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Reflexology is a massage therapy used to relieve tension and treat illness by applying circular pressure to ‘reflex points’ on the feet, hands and head. These reflex points connect to the sensory nerves of the whole body.
Applying pressure to these points stimulates the vital energy within the human body, which increases blood circulation and makes the whole body function in a more balanced way. Consequently, reflexology is known to relieve stress, reduce pain and cure sicknesses caused by energy deficiency within the body.
Reflexology dates back to 2330 BC as some inscriptions were found displaying ancient Egyptians practicing this kind of medical treatment. Ancient Chinese and Japanese techniques emerged in the East as well.
“A healthy body relies on a steady flow of vital energy,” says Catherine Habashi, a reflexologist living and working in Egypt. “Thus, reflexology is quite essential to maintain effective circulation of vital energies that prevent the occurrence of imbalanced states such as blockage or energy loss, which could leave us vulnerable to many diseases.”
Besides combating stress, reflexology is a remedy for chronic health problems including menstrual and back pain, insomnia, headaches, depression, pregnancy pain and other acute diseases. Another significant benefit of reflexology is detoxifying the body by allowing the lymphatic system to purify it of any wastes.
However, reflexology plays a complementary role to medical treatment and is not a replacement for it. In serious health issues, Habashi stresses that doctor’s consultation is a must to make sure that your reflexologist is adopting the suitable treatment course for your case.
“Reflexology is suitable for all age groups and all health conditions. Even if you don’t suffer from any disease, it is a perfect method to guarantee a balanced mental and physical well being,” Habashi points out.
The required number of sessions may vary according to the severity of the case and the level of vital energy.
A sense of relaxation and energetic balance is generally experienced after three to five reflexology sessions. However, “In very rare cases, a ‘healing crisis’ may occur due to the body’s detoxification process. This crisis is a natural response to the body’s experience of restoring balance,” Habashi explains.
Symptoms of a healing crisis include increased urination and perspiration, tiredness, and oversleeping. Habashi advises to go to a certified professional reflexologist to avoid any side effects. “Well-trained reflexologists are aware of anatomy and know the exact amount of pressure required for your condition.”
According to Habashi’s assistant, Suzan Nosseir, the reaction of the body to reflexology sessions depends on the age, disease, and health history of the patient. If a crisis occurs, it normally does not last more than 48 hours. “However, the patient does not have to get worried because it is a sign that his body is responding to the treatment,” she says.
Habashi advises patients drink large quantities of water, which helps in releasing the toxins out of body, after each reflexology session. Take a hot shower, have a rest and do not exert a lot of effort within the first couple of days, Habashi adds.
Reflexology centers are not commonplace in Cairo but reflexologists work from home or in massage parlors around the city. Prices range from LE 100 - LE 500 for each session, which lasts approximately an hour. To start, check out branches of Tarek Nails, a manicure/pedicure parlor with a once-a-week reflexologist, the Four Seasons Spa or the newly opened Fairmont Willow Stream Spa, now offering 50 percent discounts on weekdays in May.