About 20 years ago, I remember finding out about the impact that massage can have on the body. The school district where I worked had a wellness program, and as part of that, 15-minute chair massages were offered at a low price. Of course, I signed up for a regular appointment. One day when the massage therapist was working on me, she started massaging my hands. "Ouch That hurts," I exclaimed when she hit an uncharacteristically tender spot. "What’s that about?" She explained to me that based on reflexology, the points she hit would match up to the digestive tract. And sure enough, that night I suffered from a particularly bad case of the stomach flu.
Fast-forward about 15 years later, and I had "graduated’ to full-body massages. As my current massage therapist massaged my legs, she started rubbing around my shinbones. Again, I experienced another painful moment. When I asked her what might be going on, she linked the discomfort to my menstrual cycle. And I found that she was right. I learned that I could estimate the onset of my monthly visitor by gauging how tender the area was right by the side of my shinbone.
Those experiences made me really interested in learning more about the body’s systems as I age. One of those areas of interest involves the pressure points that are part of reflexology. To learn more, I purchased a copy of "The Reflexology Deck" by Katy Dreyfuss, which is a series of illustrations of pressure points that could be found in the hands, feet, face, and ears. Dreyfuss notes that reflexology is based on "the application of pressure on specific points that provide a healing effect on corresponding organs, glands, muscles and bones." Noting that reflexology is based on ancient wisdom, Dreyfuss said, "According to a foundational principle of reflexology called ‘zone therapy,’ energy streams through the body in 10 vertical zones. Pressing into a reflexology zone on the hands or feet balances the flow of energy through the related body zone." Dreyfuss does warn that reflexology is not a medical treatment and should not be substituted for professional medical advice.
So can reflexology help with menopause? On one of the cards entitled "Feminine Fire Tamer," Dreyfuss writes, "Reflexology soothes discomforts associated with menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. By regulating hormonal functioning and inducing relaxation, reflexology can cause many symptoms, including irregularity, fluid retention, and cramps, to fade or disappear." Menopausal hot flashes also can be eased through reflexology, according to Dreyfuss.
Additional cards in the deck offer other benefits of reflexology that may be of interest to perimenopausal and menopausal women. For instance, one is focused on emotional balance. Dreyfuss explains, "Reflexology is a natural antidepressant. It calms nerves, relaxes muscles, balances hormonal flow, stimulates deep breathing, and provides an opportunity for meditative awareness of sensations."
Another potential area of interest is a card called "Back Solution." "Reflexology can relieve back pain and inflammation without the side effects of medicine Emotional stress, awkward movement, physical strain and sudden impact can cause back pain," Dreyfuss said. "In addition to engaging in regular reflexology sessions, living a balanced lifestyle, stretching, exercising, and focusing on the present moment can relieve discomfort and prevent accidents."
Based on my experiences, I have found that reflexology is an easy and effective way to ease some of the challenges I’ve faced in going through perimenopause. It may be something you want to explore as well.
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.