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An Introduction to Precision Reflexology

by Jan Williamson(more info)

listed in reflexology, originally published in issue 29 - June 1998

Precision Reflexology has been developed by Prue Hughes (founder and principal of The School of Precision Reflexology). Prue's background as a therapist includes Jungian analysis, rebirthing, polarity therapy and reflexology. From her clinical experience involving both mind and body work, she has adapted her reflexology treatments to arrive at the unique approach of Precision Reflexology.

Precision Reflexology Chart

Precision Reflexology Chart

In order to understand the fundamental principle behind this therapy, it is essential to have an understanding of the origins of all reflexology and also, of the subtle energy of the body.

The origins date back to 2500 B.C. when pressure techniques were recognised and accepted as preventative and therapeutic. The philosophy involved is Oriental, with the belief that man forms an organic part of nature and is clearly linked to nature. The terminology used by reflexologists such as, balance, harmony and energy do not translate easily into Western physiological understanding. Oriental belief is that all life is linked to natural rhythms and laws of the universe. Humans are directly and indirectly affected by the cosmic forces which are beyond our control. The optimum state is that each individual should live in harmony with nature and the environment. The aim of precision reflexology is to connect to a person's energy system, to adjust it and to harmonise it within itself and with the world surrounding that person. All life can be said to be an expression of energy; in humans this can be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

The efficacy of the therapy is believed to be the result of stimulation of the energy flow. This phenomenon is called "prana" by the Indian Yogis, "chi" by the Chinese and in the West, homoeopaths call it "vital energy" and "life force". Precision reflexologists work with this internal energy and accept that the body is a dynamic energy system which is constantly changing.

The pituitary gland can be linked to the adrenal gland. This can balance through the endocrine system and is especially useful during the menopause with the increased activity of the adrenals.

The pituitary gland can be linked to the adrenal gland. This can balance through the endocrine system and is
especially useful during the menopause with the increased activity of the adrenals.

One aspect of the unique nature of precision work is that it does not rely on force or actual physical pressure but rather it is presented with an element of choice. Each individual client can receive the benefits in a way that is appropriate to them – at that time. Each person's own energies are used to heal him/herself. It will be appropriate on all levels of their being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Bearing this approach in mind, it is obvious that the practitioner must be clear about his or her own intention within the treatment; he/she is not imposing their will on the client but rather simply presenting the opportunity for the body to heal itself, using its own innate intelligence. This must be allowed to happen in its own way and in its own time. This process of change is not a conscious decision.

There are Precision Reflexology charts which are used in the training of this technique. The reflex area for the spine is located on the medial aspect of each foot. Reflex areas are on both dorsal and plantar aspects of the feet. The same principles apply to the hands.

The specific technique which is exclusive to precision work is called "linking", this involves holding two (sometimes three) identified reflex points at the same time to add power and definition to the treatment. As the link is held, the practitioner pauses and is aware of "listening" via his/her hands and, in this way, the treatment is matched to the individual with precision. This technique can be adapted to all forms of reflexology and it is currently taught to many students who have qualified in other schools.

Linking is initiated by stimulating the reflexes to be connected and feeling the energy between them. Once experienced, this feeling will amplify especially if both the worker and the client are focused. This can be demonstrated on the hands. Points on the thumb and middle finger of each hand are joined together – these are located in the centre of the finger, about a quarter of an inch down from the tip. This can be felt as a small tingle, or a pulse, or a feeling of warmth. A calming effect can be achieved by connecting the reflexes of the top of the head down to the base of the spine. To do this, the energy points of both middle fingers are joined together, then one thumb is taken down to find the base of the other thumb (where it joins the wrist). Each point can be worked in turn and then, with them both held still, the energy can be felt running between them.

There are defined sets of links, each producing particular effects and with their own applications, many more can be developed with intuition.

Not all of them are for everyone and, in fact, it would not be appropriate to use all the links within a single consultation. The main benefit is that this provides access to the subtle body energies of each client; it gives an added dimension to each session, allowing the practitioner to fully respond to the true needs of each person.

As with all reflexology, the treatment is a response to each person at that time, therefore reactions differ from one person to another and from one treatment to another. The effects produced range from energising and uplifting to calming and deeply relaxing so, therefore, the links used ought to be "matched" to the needs of the receiver. The treatment reflects the energy levels of the receiver with some people being more receptive than others. It is possible to balance body energy and to make the treatment truly holistic, both to give and to receive.

Experienced therapists can use this approach with accuracy and sensitivity. Awareness of the subtle body increases knowledge of all aspects of a person – physical, emotional and spiritual. In this way, precision reflexology remains true to the Eastern origins of the therapy.

As with all work of this nature, the practitioner needs to pay attention to their own energy levels, to listen to them, to care for them (with diet, exercise and relaxation and breathing techniques, etc.) and to allow them to function as efficiently as possible.

Precision work has the potential for great power even with gentle pressure, this being particularly effective on painful reflexes or for very fragile and vulnerable clients. The treatment is given without force and it is always presented with great respect for the client. Each person will receive and progress through the course of treatment in a way which is correct for them. When, or indeed if, they begin to benefit it will be exactly as and when they are ready on all levels. This then being a truly holistic therapy.

There are specific sets of links, for instance:

1. The lumbar spine is linked to the hip reflex. This is especially effective for problems such as sciatica and arthritis. If this "link" is working well with a receptive client, it can be felt in the actual lumbar spine and then, via the spinal nerves, it can travel to anywhere it is most needed.

2. The forebrain can be linked to the base of the spine to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is extremely helpful for anxious, tense people who find it difficult to relax. Clients report this producing feelings similar to those experienced in Yoga relaxation sessions, being in a state between being asleep and being awake. It is particularly effective for quietening those who chatter and find the silence difficult. The parasympathetic state produced enables the pattern of stress to be broken and opens up the way for the body to begin to heal itself.

3. The pituitary gland can be linked to the adrenal gland. This can balance through the endocrine system and is especially useful during the menopause with the increased activity of the adrenals.

The links need to be held while the practitioner "listens", responding to the energy of the client. The time to hold will be determined by the needs at that time, after the required time, the worker and, sometimes, the receiver will feel the energy diminish. In this way, the technique is self-regulating, the body taking what it requires.

An extremely energetic link on a person who presents in a sluggish, lethargic manner could indicate an imbalance, however, on a lively, enthusiastic person the same response would be regarded as normal. In the same way, a dull link on a stressed person could be seen as an imbalance and, on a placid, quiet person this would be quite acceptable.

Each link has its own characteristics, producing its own responses. Clients have a variety of words to describe how they feel, such as, "relaxing", "warm", "floaty", "lively", "detached", "energised" and many more. Some of the links can promote feelings of being expansive and free, others of being deeply relaxed. Some can promote emotional release if the client is ready. The technique is received differently by each person, some feel the responses isolated to the feet, others feel reactions in the relevant areas of the body. Practitioners make no judgment about this; it is simply how that person is functioning at the time. If a response is felt in the body, clients use words such as "glow", "heat", "tingle" to describe how this feels.

Linking can promote deep relaxation, with the client feeling detached from the physical body. It emphasises all the benefits of reflexology and can be applied to a wide range of ailments, some physical and others emotional. All complementary health practitioners are aware of how emotional tension, after a shock, trauma or bereavement, can become locked into the physical body. There are specific links which can, if the receiver is ready, help to release this pain. Sometimes this is dramatic with a strong emotional response, sometimes it is quite calm with the client relating a particular incident from the past.

Reflexology has ancient foundations and has evolved into the modern world. It has a rationale which is Eastern in philosophy and Western in application. Precision Reflexology enables practitioners to remain true to the origins, both in the philosophy behind the treatment and in the approach.

References

Bayley D E (1978) Reflexology Today. Thorsons, Wellingborough, Northampton: 13–14.
Dougans I, Ellis S (1992) The Art of Reflexology. Element, Shaftesbury, Dorset:10
Ingham E (1984) Stories the Feet have told. Ingham Publishing Inc, St Petersburg, Florida:2.

Case Studies

Mrs A Female age 54 years. Presented with menopausal symptoms, the worst of these in her opinion being the hot flushes which commenced four years ago. These happen both day and night time, and were increasing both in frequency and in severity. She was “desperate”, feeling that the symptoms had taken over her life totally.
Treatment – she received full reflexology treatments with particular emphasis on “linking” within the endocrine system, there was noticeable heat on the reflexes for the adrenal glands and on the ovaries. She had four treatments at fortnightly intervals and then two treatments at monthly intervals. After the first session she reported that the hot flushes were less frequent and that she felt more relaxed generally. She was also surprised by how deeply she relaxed during the treatment, describing it as “bliss”! After the third session the symptoms actually worsened slightly but from then on there was a steady improvement, until after the sixth session, she felt “marvellous”, describing the hot flushes as being less frequent and less severe. She feels that the situation is now controllable. She has a reasonable night’s sleep and feels that the hot flushes do not interfere with her normal life. She will continue to have treatments at monthly intervals to sustain the improvement.

Mrs B Female, age 52 years. After a long history of spinal problems, Mrs B. had surgery three years previously resulting in fusion of the lumbar vertebrae. She is realistic about her limitations and manages to have a full and active life. She initially came for treatment with the presenting symptom of poor circulation and night-time cramps.
Treatment – She had a full treatment with emphasis on the circulatory system. She had regular monthly treatments. After the second session, she reported that the cramps were less frequent. She was very responsive and whenever the pituitary reflex was worked she felt a slight pulsing sensation in the temples. When the lumbar 5 to hip link was applied she felt “floating and heavy, as though waves are passing over me”. At the same time I felt, as the worker, that a charge of energy rushed through my arms. By the fourth session her feet and legs felt warmer and, in her words, the cramp was “much improved” and there were nights which were cramp-free. By the sixth session she was thrilled saying that her feet were warmer than her husbands now! Her overall circulation improved too. She now has regular treatments at six week intervals and she has sustained the improvement.

Mr C Male, age 67. He initially came for treatment as a diabetic (diagnosed two years previously) with concern about maintaining adequate circulation in his feet. He still does a small amount of work as a farmer and is keen to stay active. On presentation his feet felt cold to touch.
Treatment – He received a full treatment with particular attention to the endocrine system. There is a three-way link involving the adrenal gland and the circulatory system and this was especially responsive with Mr. C. He had regular monthly treatments and after the third session, he felt that his feet were warmer and that they stayed warm while he worked. This was two years ago and now he has monthly sessions in the winter and bimonthly throughout the summer. His toes often feel numb but this is quickly relieved and there has been no worsening of the situation which might have been expected in view of the diabetes. An interesting by-product of the treatments has been that as various links involving the pituitary gland are worked (these often release emotions), he talks fondly about his wife who died five years ago. He is obviously lonely and misses her terribly, he doesn’t become upset but seems to enjoy the opportunity to reminisce.

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About Jan Williamson

Jan Williamson MAR, BWY (Dip), ITEC (Hons), Cert Ed is a complementary health practitioner, yoga teacher and pre- and post-natal therapist. She is director of the School of Precision Reflexology and is based in Exeter at the School of Complementary Health. She can be contacted on 01392 499360 email: jan.sch@breathemail.net

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