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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Grubs up: Veganism trend soaring among young Saudis

Updated 05 December 2019

Grubs up: Veganism trend soaring among young Saudis

  • Research shows that plant-based diets help lower body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol levels

JEDDAH: Although vegans are facing daily stereotypes regarding their dietary habits, the number of young people in the Kingdom shifting to an animal-free diet is rising.

The trend has been attributed to Saudis’ health concerns, especially with obesity. 

Research has revealed that more than 40 percent of Saudi citizens are obese. 

Online awareness campaigns are helping vegans to share their experiences with their eating habits. Several young Saudis were convinced to follow plant-based diets after watching the “Plant B” program during Ramadan. 

The show is a bilingual web series starring Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian surgeon. It explained the importance and the benefit of veganism on human health.  

The number of restaurants and home businesses that are serving vegan options are increasing every day.  

Raneem Al-Qurashi, 17, is a student and owner of the Nabati online business. She turned to veganism two years ago. She said: “I used to eat a generally healthy diet. So, when I turned vegan, I did not feel much of a difference. However, I did feel a lot lighter after meals, since meat takes a long time to digest. 

“I started this business out of my own needs for healthy vegan baked goods in Jeddah, about a year ago, there were little to no vegan options in Jeddah, and even if there were, it was usually overpriced.”

Young Saudis are increasingly becoming health conscious and adopting a healthy lifestyle to stay fit. (Photos/Supplied)

Al-Qurashi believes that veganism and plant-based diets are growing in Saudi Arabia. People have become more aware and conscious about their decisions and how it might affect their health, environment and animals.

Jawan Kudus, a 32-year-old entrepreneur and the founder of Raw Instinct, is vegan in her diet, but she has to try non-vegan dishes for culinary purposes, to acquire knowledge of new tastes and combinations. She started her vegan journey in 2009, while she was studying in London.

Kudus said: “I discovered the raw food diet and fell in love with it, it was like a breakthrough in my life. I learned to eat superfoods without sacrificing taste. Then I explored cooked vegan dishes and continued to experiment in the kitchen. It really transformed the way I eat and approach my diet. I believe veganism helps you become your true and best version of yourself.”

Abdullah Ghazi, a clinical psychologist and marriage therapist, explained that he had been a vegan for the last six months. He started by trying vegan dishes at restaurants, then trying to commit to a vegan meal a day. Eventually, his whole diet became vegan.

Ghazi said: “I was trying to find a better lifestyle because I’m getting into my 30s. Since I have a medical background, I could not try something new without doing my homework, and what I found was very encouraging. Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower heart disease mortality rates.”