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Reflexology for Children and Babies

by Lynne Booth(more info)

listed in reflexology, originally published in issue 196 - July 2012

Many parents seek out complementary therapies to help their children when they suffer minor ailments; reflexology is particularly helpful, as it is gentle and non-invasive as only the pressure points on the hands and feet are stimulated. Reflexologists can also teach family members to apply short gentle techniques to children’s hands and feet. Small babies may be gently treated with caution: the lightest feather-like brush on specific parts of the hands or feet can sooth a colicky baby or help calm a distressed child. Vertical Reflex Therapy (VRT), is a profound reflexology technique where the hands and feet are briefly treated in a weight-bearing position with the suggestion that this can increase the therapeutic response. VRT is a useful adjunct to conventional reflexology; it can be used extensively when adapting positions to suit babies and small children who are constantly on the move.

Reflexology aims to stimulate precise pressure points on the hands and feet to help trigger the body to help itself. Small children are often intrigued with these techniques and can be taught simple self help routines on their hands to aid sleep, calm nerves or possibly help to assist breathing when a respiratory disorder is present. The gentle relaxing self-help technique on the hands or feet, called Diaphragm Rocking, may bring about deeper sleep patterns

 A 9 year old boy learns Diaphragm Rocking for insomnia issues

A 9 year old boy learns Diaphragm Rocking for insomnia issues

Adaptive reflexology is a term applied to reflexology sessions in chronic illness / palliative care situations where the therapist has to be prepared to change position, help the client to move and adjust to a variety of unconventional positions or application of techniques. This is to give most comfort and security to the client while still hoping to gain maximum benefit from reflexology. A therapist also has to have this same adaptable approach when treating toddlers. They are unlikely to stay still for long and are instantly distracted. Using their hands and feet and moving about with the help of a parent / carer makes a reflexology session very feasible and is often entertaining for the child. These photos illustrate the adaptability required by therapist and mother to give two and a half year old Leo a short reflexology treatment using classical and VRT techniques including Synergistic Reflexology where the corresponding hand and foot reflexes are worked simultaneously.

 Adaptive reflexology for a toddler

Vertical Reflexology (VRT) for a toddler

Adaptive reflexology for a toddler

Adaptive synergistic reflexology

Adaptive reflexology for a toddler

Adaptive reflexology for a toddler

 A parent can also give reflexology

A parent can also give reflexology such as
pincher action Diaphragm Rocking

Reflexology for Babies

Synergistic reflexology, when two identical hand and foot reflexes are worked simultaneously, is an obvious choice to use when feeding a small baby, as he or she can be cradled in a parent’s arm while one hand makes feather light strokes on the foot on either stomach or bowel reflexes, while the other hand gently strokes the baby’s palm on the same side of their body. A baby’s toes or fingers should never be worked as they are too fragile.

Kenny, 2 week old baby
Synergistic reflexology on 2 week old Kenny

The tiniest baby can ‘stand’ for VRT

A 3-month-old baby can ‘stand’ for VRT

Even a tiny baby can be held so that their feet briefly weight-bear. When these photos were being taken, 3 month old baby Jamie became a little restless so I stroked the spinal reflexes on his tiny feet a couple of times and placed my two fingers (like scissors) either side of the diaphragm reflexes and rocked his feet gently - one by one. To finish I gently held the dorsal and plantar adrenal reflexes in a pinch. As soon as I held the adrenal points (situated beneath the ball of the foot) he calmed down and became instantly more placid. His parents were advised to repeat this when he was crying or restless, as babies can learn to recognize this particular type of touch as calming and therapeutic.

Diaphragm Rocking for Infants

Diaphragm Rocking for Infants

I used the above reflexology techniques on a screaming 6-month baby girl passenger on a long-haul flight. No one could calm her; when I first touched the reflexes on her feet, her cries became louder. The medial spinal reflexes on her feet were exceptionally rigid, and I used the Diaphragm Rocking above to relax the foot generally. The baby immediately went from red faced to normal skin colour and was calm in seconds. Her rigid big toes became relaxed. She was calm and placid for the rest of the 5 hour journey. I deduced that the child had experienced terrible head and neck pains. The very young mother then confirmed that her 2- year old son had hit the baby on the head with a picture frame that morning, “but she seemed OK afterwards”. The reflexology technique appeared to have instantly released the baby’s head and neck muscles. I also advised the mother to have the infant checked over by a doctor on arrival.

Young Children

Young children often enjoy learning self-help VRT techniques on their hands, ranging from working lung reflexes for asthma and hand rocking techniques for insomnia. This rocking technique also has been used with great effect to calm a child who is having a panic attack. A 10 year old girl I treat regularly discreetly works her weight-bearing hand, beside her on her seat, if she begins to develop an asthmatic-type wheeze while at school.

Synergistic Vertical Reflexology

Synergistic vertical reflexology for 8 year old Amber

 Children enjoy self-help techniques

Children enjoy self-help techniques

A Fifteen Year Old Gymnast

An early VRT result was with an extremely agile fifteen year old schoolgirl who excelled at acrobatics. A week before I saw her she had landed awkwardly after sliding down a rope and had hurt her back. The lower lumber area was extremely tender; she experienced a sharp pain whenever she leaned backwards. I briefly worked her feet with the five minute Basic VRT and found the spinal foot reflexes (around L1 and L2) extremely tender on both feet. I worked synergistically on her hands and feet hip reflexes and asked her to sit on a chair, placed both feet on my lap and gave her about 2 minutes of gentle Diaphragm Rocking on each foot.

Half way through treating the second foot she experienced a loud ‘pop’ in her upper thoracic spine, between her shoulder blades. When she stood up, a minute later, her back felt free and she could bend in all directions with no further pain.

Six weeks later her back was still symptom-free and she reported that she had felt “even more mobile” since the VRT treatment. She explained that she had hurt her back the previous summer and afterwards was unable to stretch quite so far. She had forgotten all about the incident until she realized that she had regained that lost range of mobility following the recent VRT session.

Children easily and positively respond to the therapeutic touch and older children enjoy learning simple VRT/reflexology techniques on their hands. Self-help reflexology techniques are empowering for all ages and parents, family and friends can be taught to administer simple but effective VRT to children, especially on the hands which are always accessible. It is a key element as a preventative measure and as a technique to help to alleviate symptoms.

Reflexology offers children simple, quick and profound complementary techniques as a preventative and therapeutic modality that can be easily applied as a self-help technique by the child, or simple instructions can be given to all clients by a professional Reflexologist.

References

Books

Booth, Lynne. Vertical Reflexology.  Publ Piatkus Books, London.  ISBN: 0-7499-2132-  2000.

Booth, Lynne. Vertical Reflexology for Hands. Piatkus Books, London. ISBN: 0-7499-2319-9 2003.  2002.

Comments:

  1. Nancy Mills said..

    I very much enjoyed & learned from this well written article, with such helpful pictures. Thank you and I did sign up for your newsletter as well.


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About Lynne Booth

Lynne Booth BA (Hons) BRCP IIR ART (regd) Hons HMAR began studying reflexology for over 22 years and went on to train with the International Institute of Reflexology (Original Ingham Method). She has a private practice and also runs a reflexology clinic at a 400-resident St Monica Trust in Bristol as well as a clinic for professional Championship footballers. The research, development of VRT and the small medical study were conducted at the Trust in the early to mid-1990s. She frequently presents VRT at conferences internationally and Lynne and VRT Appointed Tutors have taught VRT courses in the UK and internationally to over 8000 qualified reflexologists. Lynne is the resident reflexology columnist for Positive Health PH Online Journal (www.positivehealth.com ). In 1998 Lynne was awarded an ART (Advanced Reflexology Techniques) fellowship for services to reflexology and in 2008 The Association of Reflexologists (AoR) also gave her an Honorary Fellowship. In 2011 the respected Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine gave Lynne the prestigious Highly Commended ICNM award for Outstanding Contribution to Complementary Medicine.  Her best-selling book Vertical Reflexology was published by Piatkus Books in September 2000 and Vertical Reflexology for Hands was published in 2002. The highly acclaimed Vertical Reflexology DVD was produced in 2008. For more information on VRT, practitioner courses or the nearest available VRT practitioner contact Booth VRT on Tel: +44 (0)117 962 6746;  contact@boothvrt.com   www.boothvrt.com

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