Rediscovering reflexology: A helping hand to everyone

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Updated 26 January 2016

Rediscovering reflexology: A helping hand to everyone

From ancient times to the present day, from Egypt to Japan, in China and throughout Asia, reflexology has helped humans maintain their health and well-being. Pictographs dating from 2330 BCE were discovered at the Tomb of the Physician in Saqqara, Egypt. This medical practice whose principles were lost in time is explored in the book ‘Hand Reflexology: Simple Routines for Health and Relaxation’ by Barbara Kunz.
The Russian physician, V.M. Bekhterev was the first to coin the term “reflexology” in 1917 and the British physician Sir Henry Head (1861-1940) developed ideas for the therapeutic use of reflex actions, mapping the connection between different organs and specific areas of the skin. Finally, a physiotherapist, Eunice Ingham (1870-1974) mapped the reflex areas of the hands and feet and their corresponding body parts. Her work marks the beginnings of today’s reflexology.
Hands help us carry out the daily tasks that make up our lives and also enable the body to gear its internal organs and muscles to respond to either eventuality. This sudden surge of adrenaline which enables a person to lift a car following an accident shows the extraordinary response of our body to stress.
According to researcher Hans Selye, seventy-five percent of an illness is stress-related. He believed that interrupting the pattern of stress provides a break in the routine, thereby resolving the wear-and-tear effect of continuous stress. Hand-reflexology work taps into this relationship, interrupting stress and helping to reset the body’s overall tension level.
“When reflexology techniques are applied to a specific part of the hand, a specific relaxation response occurs in a corresponding body part: reflexology maps of the hand show this relationship.”
Reflexology is simple and convenient and can be performed throughout the day, no matter where you are or what you are doing. You can use it while you are waiting at a red light or while watching a television program. “One of the clearest advantages of hand reflexology is the ease it offers of playing an active role in reducing stress levels.”
Moreover, reflexology can also offer a helping hand to everyone, regardless of their age, occupation, or current state of health. Babies are particularly receptive to reflexology. Touching a baby’s hands can encourage the development of nervous system pathways from the hand to the brain. A few touches can induce a baby to sleep.
Reflexology also helps ease the health concerns of the elderly including decrease in pain, improved heart, kidney, and bowel function, and reduction in stress. Reflexology work also tackles issues such as having the flexibility to fasten buttons and open doors, and maintaining an independent life for as long as possible.
A reflexology session can last up to an hour. A professional reflexologist will not only give you a sense of relaxation but he or she will also give feedback during the session as they assess different reflex areas. At the end of the session, you should feel generally relaxed and you should start seeing results after two or three sessions but remember that the longer you have a problem, the longer it will take.
This book is illustrated with step-by-step photographs which show in a clear manner how to perform complete routines for hand reflexology exercises. However, it is useful to know that reflexology techniques do not always reach deep areas and not everyone has the ability to perform hand reflexology therefore using golf balls or rubber balls can be effective. One easy exercise consists in holding two balls in one hand and moving them in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction by using the fingers. Then you change hands and repeat the same movements. These simple exercises help build flexibility in the hands, strengthen muscles and develop hand awareness.
The tendon-glide exercise is useful to prevent fatigue in the fingers and hands by strengthening underused muscles. This exercise is particularly useful for those of us whose work involves the repetitive task of keyboarding. You can practice the tendon-glide exercise before you begin work, repeating each one three to five times to start with and gradually increasing to a total of ten exercises.
First you hold your hand upright with the fingers and thumb outstretched. Second, you curl your fingers making a hook but leaving your thumb straight. Third, you keep your thumb straight and continue curling your fingers over until you touch the palm with your fingertips.
Finally, you curl the fingers and the thumb into a fist and squeeze.
Foot and hand massage have long been used to promote relaxation and improve health; reflexology is generally performed on the feet by a trained practitioner and is deeply relaxing but as this book clearly shows, anyone can easily massage one’s hands at any time to relieve stress, promote relaxation and improve health. The hands as well as the feet are considered to be a mirror of the body and pressure on specific reflex points is believed to affect corresponding body parts.
Reflexologists believe that granular deposits accumulate around reflex points, blocked flow and the aim is to break down these deposits and improve the blood supply to flush away toxins. The hand is a sensory organ, capable of receiving and communicating sensations such as pressure, stretch, and movement. Hand reflexology uses this ability to send a message of relaxation to the body, resulting in an improved response to daily stresses. This book will give you a taste of the power of what hand reflexology can do for yourself and others at any time.

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5 reasons to add spinach to your diet

Updated 08 August 2020

5 reasons to add spinach to your diet

DUBAI: Devinder Bains, personal trainer and nutrition coach at Fit Squad DXB, shares her advice on the superfoods that will help you lead a longer and healthier life…

If you want a food that’s cheap, versatile and packed with nutrients, then you can’t go wrong with spinach. Throw a handful into a fruit or vegetable smoothie, cook it as a side dish with meat or knock out a saag curry as a main and reap the health rewards listed below.

Improved eye health

Spinach is high in the antioxidant pigments zeaxanthin and lutein, which protect your eyes from damage caused by sunlight. They also work to prevent macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly. Studies have also shown that zeaxanthin and lutein play a part in preventing cataracts.

Healthy pregnancy

As spinach is packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium, it’s the perfect food for pregnant women. Leafy greens are also rich in powerful immune-boosting antioxidants and contain plant compounds that may help prevent constipation, a common problem among pregnant women.

There are plenty of health rewards to be reaped from the super food. Shutterstock

Blood clotting

One spinach leaf contains over half of your daily requirements of vitamin K1, which is essential for healthy bones. It also helps white blood cells to clot effectively, preventing you from bleeding out when you are injured. Anyone who is taking blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin should speak to their doctor before increasing their intake of spinach or other leafy greens.

Healthy teeth

This super green is high in catenoids, which our bodies turn into vitamin A. This vitamin plays a key role in keeping gums healthy and in building tooth enamel. Spinach is also high in calcium, which helps harden your enamel, strengthen your jawbone, and build strong bones. In fact, spinach is also rich in vitamin D, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C, all of which are important nutrients for bone health.

Healthy hair

This is where vitamin A comes in again, as it is necessary for sebum production to keep hair moisturized, helping it to look glossy and grow. It can also help reduce hair loss. Vitamin A is actually used in the growth of all bodily tissues, so it is essential for healthy skin as well.