Vertical Reflex Therapy - Making a stand against pain
A new kind of reflexology is much quicker and just as effective. Barbara Lantin meets its pioneer
YOU are in the office, hunched over your computer, when you become aware that your neck is killing you. Do you a) reach for the painkillers and struggle on, b) sit it out, doing very little work and praying for 5pm or c) go home. Employees at the Royal Sun Alliance insurance company in Horsham, Sussex, have another choice.
They can get a quick burst of Vertical Reflex Therapy (VRT), a new form of reflexology that is changing the face of this ancient therapy. The team at No Mean Feat, the workplace reflexologists who run the twice-fortnightly clinic at the Royal Sun Alliance, is raving about the new technique, in which the upper surface of the foot is treated - rather than the sole - while the client stands.
Not only is VRT more convenient, it is also much quicker than the traditional method. Results can, it is claimed, be seen after just a few minutes, and the recommended length of a treatment is no more than five minutes. "VRT is brilliant because it is short, simple and effective," says Louise Richardson of No Mean Feat, whose clients also include Sainsbury's.
"It helps with the kinds of postural problems from which people tend to suffer in the work environment - a bad back from driving, a stiff neck from the computer. You can get an almost instant increase in mobility. "
At work, employees don't always have time to lie down for half an hour or more for conventional reflexology. With VRT they can just pop along in the lunch break or at the end of the day. And you can give them self-help tips so that they can continue the treatment at home." VRT is the brainchild of Lynne Booth, who qualified as a reflexologist nine years ago after a career with IBM.
She stumbled on the new approach by accident. "When working with wheelchair patients I could not treat them lying down," explains Booth, whose book Vertical Reflexology, is out this month. "Indeed, it was often impossible to work on the sole of the foot at all when dealing with people whose legs were paralysed or whose feet were swollen. I tried working on the upper part and found I could obtain excellent results when pressing the patient's foot firmly on the foot-rest of their wheelchair."
However, it was not until she saw a patient who had injured her hip in a minor accident at home that Booth worked out the key to her new treatment. While the patient stood, Booth worked the hip, leg, spine and pelvic reflexes around her ankles for no more than 90 seconds. Ten minutes later, according to Booth, the woman experienced pain and warmth in her injured hip, followed by soreness and tingling.
By the following morning, she had greater mobility than she had enjoyed for months and - several years on - continues to do so. "After this I realised that when the reflexes on the foot - or the hands - are carrying weight, they respond more quickly. When the body is weight-bearing, energy blocks seem to clear with remarkable speed. It is as if there is a faster and more direct line of communication between the reflexes and the corresponding parts of the body. This accelerates the healing process.
"My colleagues and I have had some very exciting results. Shoulders that have been frozen for five years have freed up after a few minutes. Patients who could not put on their own socks, brush their hair or walk to the shops suddenly find they can. But it is important to say that not all VRT treatments produce such spectacular results."
Bernie Keane, a photographic stylist from West Hampstead, London, found the speed with which VRT works little short of miraculous. This year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer - a segmental mastectomy and an operation to remove her lymph nodes left her unable to raise her left arm. As a result, her radiotherapy treatment was delayed and she was referred for physiotherapy.
"When my reflexologist said she wanted to try a new treatment for two minutes, I almost laughed. As she touched one point on my foot, I gasped. When she had finished I could lift my arm above my ear. She gave me some exercises to do at home for a minute or so every morning and by the end of the week I had complete mobility."
"Other conditions including asthma, period pains, IBS and ME can also be treated," claims Booth. "It has been found to calm autistic children and it can be wonderful in labour when you cannot get the expectant mother to lie down. In theory, any condition can be helped and anybody can be taught to use VRT in its most basic form."
Lynne learnt this for herself when she fell six feet from the quay into the family's boat, cracking her head, back and shoulders. "I placed my foot on the seat and began some self-help VRT. I could feel my shoulder become warm almost immediately. I then asked my teenage daughter to work my feet while I stood and gave her instructions. After two or three minutes, I felt clicks, tingling and warmth in various parts of my body as I began to recover."
Booth uses this tale to illustrate that there is no mystique about VRT. In her book she explains how people can use the technique on their families and even on themselves. The thumb and the index finger are the main tools, with the right hand working the right foot and the left hand the left foot.
The reflexology charts show where to apply pressure for a particular problem. The area should be pressed firmly enough to produce a feeling of slight discomfort. "These skills can be really useful as first aid at home or work or when you are travelling," says Booth. "You will be able to react quickly if you fall or feel a sore throat or stomach ache coming on."
For occasions when it is embarrassing or impossible to start manipulating your foot, Booth describes the equivalent hand reflexes. She has taught 1,300 qualified reflexologists from all over Europe to use VRT and has training courses planned in Australia and South Africa.
She is constantly developing new techniques. Synergistic Reflexology involves working on hand and foot simultaneously: a "double whammy" for particularly painful or long-standing problems. In Diaphragm Rocking, the reclining foot is drawn backwards and forwards in a powerful rhythm that can, apparently, channel energy to wherever it is needed, and send even the most active patient to sleep.
Booth's latest discovery is a mini body map under the toenails. "I have worked out a kind of grid system by trial and error. If I press the tip of a fingernail on a toenail while the patient is standing - so that the foot is weight-bearing - people feel sensitivity in different parts of their body. It seems particularly effective for hormonal problems.
"There is always something new. It is very exciting."
Kindly forwarded by Linda Anderson who offers Reflexology/Vertical Reflex Therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Aqua Detox Therapy in the Essex Area
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