Research is beginning to prove what practitioners have long known. Reflexology promotes good health. Nail technicians are uniquely positioned to catch the wellness wave as reflexology rolls into its own as a salon service.
And in some cases, the proof lies at your fingertips. Suffering from a tension headache? With the thumb of one hand, apply pressure to reflex points at the side and base of your thumb, the inside base of your thumb across the bottom of the palm, and diagonally across the middle of the palm. “Walk” your thumb to work these reflex areas, working first one hand and then another.
Suffer from allergies, asthma, and sinus problem? Kunz recommends applying pressure to the adrenal reflex area. “To find this area on the hands, rest your right thumb on the top of your left thumb,” he says. “Reposition the right hand, moving the right thumb down toward the wrist. Your hand is now positioned so that your right index finger can curl around the hand and exert pressure at the midpoint of the long bone. Rest your fingertip on the palm of the hand and press.” If the area doesn’t feel sensitive, he says to reposition your fingertip slightly and test another area.
“Once you have a target area, try a pressure technique,” he continues. “Position your fingertip on the sensitive area and exert and release pressure eight to 10 times.” Then, repeat on the other hand. Of course, to reap the most benefits you must commit to it like you would any other exercise program.
“Just as a certain number of sit-ups is needed to influence one’s waistline, a certain amount of reflexology technique application is needed to get results,” he says.
Emphasize Wellness Over Healing
While research promises to provide scientific facts that back the myriad health benefits reflexology claims, practitioners must take great precautions about making any health or medical claims in relationship with reflexology, Kunz cautions. “I don’t offer medical advice, I don’t diagnose conditions or prescribe, and I don’t perform reflexology to treat a specific illness,” he asserts. “I saw a practitioner in Illinois sell a bottle of aloe vera juice to someone after telling them what’s wrong with them and she was convicted for practicing medicine and podiatry without a license.”
“We don’t diagnose,” Rosenstreich agrees. “We just observe what the body is saying and prepare it to take care of itself. Building up the body builds the immune system, which helps the body care for itself. Don’t make any claims – we’re not trained to make a diagnosis, and at times what you could observe could be caused by 20 to 30 things, and you’re not trained to know which it is.
“What I do as a professional is educate the client about reflexology and how it works, explaining that it doesn’t have a direct effect,” he continues. “Always let them look at it from the big picture of bringing the body back into balance.”
By the same token, Kunz and Rosenstreich agree that reflexologists really can’t cause physical harm by working pressure points in the hands and feet. While too much pressure could cause discomfort and even bruising, clients generally risk no more than wasting their money with someone who is inadequately trained.
Learn to Earn
Training is a major issue in reflexology, as less than 10 states and a handful of cities nationwide regulate reflexology. Indeed, the profession hasn’t been able to agree on training or certification standards. As the field gains more interest from other professionals such as massage therapists, nail technicians, nurses, and physical therapists, some state regulatory agencies are giving the profession a second look. For example, Kunz says he is currently battling the massage therapy industry in New Mexico, which wants reflexology to fall under the purview of the massage therapist license. He, on the other hand, counters that their current curriculum requirement for 12 hours’ training in reflexology gives them no basis of knowledge in the art to claim it as theirs. In the meantime, he says, professionals like nail technicians are probably exempted from most certification requirements.
That doesn’t mean just anyone can do reflexology, however. While one-day and weekend seminars have been very popular with nail technicians for several years, both Rosenstreich and Kunz recommend more extensive training to master the technique. “A two-day course just isn’t enough,” Rosenstreich asserts. “And there should be spaces between training sessions. To do a two-day course and then be on your own just isn’t enough. You need to do that and then work outside practicing for awhile, and then have your technique monitored and corrected and learn more in the classroom. It’s important to get feedback from someone who can show you what you need to work on.”
“I see reflexology breaking into two areas, “Kunz adds. “If you’re going to work on a relaxation level, I would say 50-100 hours of training is good. To work on a therapeutic level, training requirements might go as high as 500 hours. A two-day seminar is good for knowledge, but not to do the technique.”
Fisher agrees, saying she’s taken a two-day seminar twice. “The first time I went I was confused because I had no clue about anatomy,” She admits. “The second time I went I concentrated on my technique.”
The effort, though, was well worth the results both she and clients enjoy. “I think nail technicians who want more diversity should consider doing reflexology,” she says. “I charge $25 for a half hour of reflexology, while I charge $15 for a 30-minute manicure. It’s nice to have something extra in your menu.” This is not to mention the extra potential income in your career.