Bridget McNulty tells us about her recent experience with reflexology for diabetes, and how it affected her blood sugar control.
Until recently, I’d only had one reflexology session. I found it fascinating, but I’d never really spent the right amount of time on it to see if it would have a big impact on my blood sugar control. I didn’t know much about the power of reflexology for diabetes. But earlier this year, I was lucky enough to meet Claire Coetzee, and engage in a 10 week reflexology series to see how it could help my diabetes.
The results were surprising… I had no idea that something as relaxing as a reflexology session could make such a difference. As diabetics, our goal is always balanced blood sugar, and I found that not only was my blood sugar more balanced, but I was able to reduce my long-acting insulin because of the effects of the reflexology.
How does reflexology work?
But let’s rewind a step: what is reflexology, and how does it work? A session feels like a particularly firm foot massage… Pleasant and relaxing in some parts, slightly uncomfortable (like when you’re massaging out a knot) in others. Claire describes how it works here:
The feet are thought to represent a microcosm of the body with all of the body parts and organs being represented in a similar arrangement with the reflexes on the feet as they are located anatomically in the body. A reflexologist maps the feet and toes, and applies pressure by using special thumb and finger techniques to the reflexes on the feet. This in turn will trigger physiological reactions in the corresponding organs and parts of the body by releasing the “chi” energy, or vital energy, and removing any blockages that may have been caused by disease.Claire Coetzee
The benefits of reflexology for diabetes
There were two significant benefits of reflexology for diabetes, in my case. The one was, as I said, generally more balanced blood sugar during the 10 weeks I was having weekly reflexology. This could be as a result of an hour of dedicated self-care each week, or because of the blockages that were being released. Either way, I could feel things shifting during the sessions and I felt really well afterwards.
The other big benefit for me was the space and time to focus on my diabetes care. ‘Reporting back’ to someone each week held me accountable. It made me look at what I was eating, how I was exercising, and how I was looking after myself in a much more focused way. It was almost like having a health coach working with me each week, and giving me the space to make necessary changes. As a result of my reflexology sessions, I made changes to my diet and exercise that I don’t think I would have made otherwise – and I feel so much better for it.
Reflexology and neuropathy
But the biggest benefit of reflexology for diabetes is how it can help neuropathy. As we all know, neuropathy is one of the most common diabetes complications, and there’s often not much you can do about it – except take medication. But reflexology has been proven to help people living with neuropathy, both to relieve their pain and to make the symptoms more mild.
If you’re considering trying reflexology and you live in Cape Town, I would highly recommend getting in touch with Claire Coetzee. If you’re in another part of South Africa, find someone near you by checking out The South African Reflexology Society. Living with diabetes is such a balancing act that the more we can do to help ourselves, the better. Reflexology is a great tool to add to your diabetes toolbox!
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