Reflexology, awesome for you runners!
The marathon training season is now in full swing and as a reflexologist and runner (Falmouth half marathon in six days…eek!), I’m totally sold on how good reflexology can be for those of us who regularly pound the pavements, train off-road, or hit the gym treadmill.
Whether you’re a mud runner, an elite athlete, a couch to 5K-er, a sporadic charity fun-runner, or anything in between, reflexology can help your running endeavours by restoring balance to your body and mind, enabling both to function better, and helping to keep you in optimum health.
Reflexology can be used before and after training or a race, and there are lots of potential benefits:
- First off, reflexology relaxes the whole of you, not just your feet. A treatment helps you de-stress and rebalances all the systems of your body (including the cardio, skeletal and muscular systems), which enables your body and mind to function more effectively. A stressed body is not an efficient one!
- Reflexology improves the blood, lymph and energy circulation to your feet and therefore throughout the rest of your body. The result is that it boosts your body’s natural ability to heal an injured area, aids muscle repair, and promotes faster recovery from injuries.
- According to research at Bonash University, Australia, reflexology can remove lactic acid from the legs four times faster than massage. Therefore, a reflexology session post-race might be helpful in providing relief from tightness in your legs.
- Although reflexology works the foot, away from an injury or sore spot, it may provide a similar response to other sports treatments such as physio, and it can certainly be used in conjunction with these. Some people I've treated have commented that after reflexology they feel lighter and looser in their body, just like they’ve have had a good massage.
- Our feet receive a lot of punishment when we run and even though the whole body moves, and the knees absorb some of the force, the focus of the impact is on our feet. Many runners experience foot pain caused by missing toenails, plantar fasciitis or tendonitis, as well as aches, pain and tightness throughout the rest of the body. A recent study by the University of Portsmouth found that people felt less pain and were able to stand pain for longer when they used reflexology. So, a treatment may help you if you’re coping with pain from such injuries or niggles.
- In advance of a race, reflexology can be used to help reduce the impact other life stresses, ease nerves and improve sleep, which may be disrupted during heavy training periods. Allowing yourself some valuable ‘me time’ can also give you the headspace for positive visualisation to help improve your sporting performance.
- Finally, and in very simple terms, reflexology just feels really flippin' good! In addition to the many potential physical benefits, it’s a lovely, relaxing and soothing treat for tired, sore and aching legs and feet!
So if you’ve read all of this and fancy giving reflexology a go, you might be wondering when's the best time to fit it in with your training. If you’re new to running or don’t run too far, reflexology is lovely any time. If you run regularly, the optimum time for a pre-run reflexology treatment is one day beforehand. If you’re new to reflexology, I would recommend extending this timeframe to two to three days before an event as this enables any initial (and quite common) side-effects, e.g. tiredness or soreness, to pass. When looking at post-race recovery, the best days to have a treatment are on a rest day and in the first four days after the event. Research has shown that stress impairs healing in the first 96 hours, so reducing stress through reflexology will allow for optimum repair.
Wishing you lots of good luck, and most importantly enjoyment, with all your running adventures! Keep running, keep smiling! x
As a reflexologist, I've seen first hand how powerful the simple act of touch can be. The importance of this innate human connection can’t be underestimated; it's vital to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Cold hands, warm heart? That's all well and good but now the temperature has dropped we just want warm mitts and feet! Reflexology is brilliant for the circulation and at the end of a treatment, feet and toes are warm and even in colour.
I'm now officially trained in Mindful Reflexology, thanks to the brilliant Sally Earlam from the Association of Reflexologists. This additional reflexology training consolidates my background in mental well-being and stress management.