My introduction to contraindications began at my first massage therapy class at the Potomac Myotherapy Institute in Washington, D.C back in 1979.
Our first class began on an autumn evening with about 40 students. By the second class, that number had shrunk to a few over 20. Missing students were culled because of contraindications.
A contraindication list changes based on several factors:
Wellness and reflexology writers each have lists based on their experiences and training.
Healers each have a list. My experience in this field tells me that this list is highly individualized, again based on each healer’s experiences and training.
Teachers in both schools and continuing education seminars have opinions. These professionals teach from a list compiled not only by themselves but by the school owners and the states where they teach.
When I first began practicing massage, Kerrith McKechnie cautioned us to not treat cancer patients, or anyone with fever, or a rash. And the list continued beyond that.
Later, when I studied reflexology, Marge d’Urso’s list was different.
Mary Ruth VanLandingham’s Reiki therapy list had no contraindications.
Over the past three plus decades, I have a list of my own. This list has changed over time based on my experiences, and classes taken.
And, of course, this list begins with
As a student at PMTI, we were cautioned against working on cancer patients at all.
Years later, I know reflexology offers much for a cancer patient: relief from pain, stress, and nausea.
When I first offered reflexology to a cancer patient, she received her reflexology sessions 48 hours after chemotherapy. The theory was that she was toxic for 48 hours after receiving her chemotherapy.
I waited the 48 hours to protect myself.
The first time I offered reflexology sessions to a cancer patient, I did it because she asked. We discussed the situation and she felt that she had no options left.
To put her situation bluntly, I was offering reflexology to a terminally ill client. She wanted the relief offered from pain, stress, and nausea.
Now, of course, fewer and fewer cancer patients receive chemotherapy.
What’s important here is the journey reflexology and other healing modalities have taken as we learned more about cancer.
Years later, at a seminar at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, I learned that reflexology, massage, and Reiki therapy are appropriate for cancer patients whenever they want to receive a session.
For me, cancer is no longer a reason to refuse a reflexology session to a client.
I do not offer reflexology sessions to pregnant women experiencing the first trimester of an unstable pregnancy.
Nothing is more wonderful than a reflexology session offered to a woman in her 7th month of pregnancy and has not seen her feet for a couple of months and still has 2 months to go.
The rule I follow: avoid offering reflexology in the first trimester and stay on the bottom of the feet when you offer sessions thereafter.
If you have any concerns, switch to Reiki therapy. Reiki therapy is wonderful for pregnant women at any stage of the pregnancy. With a regular Reiki therapy client, you can offer sessions weekly and can offer to go with your client into the labor and delivery stages of the birth process. Then, of course, you have two clients.
CLIENTS WITH INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Infectious disease sufferers should not receive reflexology for your protection. If you decide to offer a session to someone in a contagious condition, consider some options: gloves, mask, etc.
SEVERE CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE
This is a good time to use your Reiki therapy skills.
Gangrene occurs when a person’s cells begin to die in a particular place when there is no circulation in a certain place in the body. Gangrene is fairly rare but can be seen in cases of advanced diabetes. This situation requires a physician’s attention.
Persons suffering with mild osteoporosis or osteopenia benefit from reflexology sessions. Use a light touch and a short session taking care not to fracture bones.
The red flag begins to fly when a new client approaches you with advanced osteoporosis. By then, it’s too late for your services without permission from the physician.
EXTENSIVE ATHLETE’S FOOT, ETC.
Whenever there is a rash, an open sore, athlete’s foot, etc., offer hand reflexology instead of working the feet. If you are uncomfortable offering hand reflexology to a person who has a contagious or infectious condition, use gloves.
Clients with mild diabetes respond well to reflexology sessions offered to both hands and feet. Use gentle pressure when working the pancreas. Use a lighter pressure in general for diabetics because their skin may be thinner or more sensitive and bruise easily. Also, reduce sessions to 30 minutes or less for new clients.
HEAVILY MEDICATED CLIENTS
Persons taking a lot of medicine may have a buildup of toxins. Because reflexology sessions offer a natural detoxing action you need to take care not to overload the person. Offer a light thouch and shorter session.
Swelling may indicate an internal injury, such as torn ligaments caused by a sprain, strain or fracture. Do not work an ankle, or foot that is swollen and painful. Once a medical professional has ruled out any underlying conditions, you can use your reflexology skills.
OPEN SORES OR CUTS
Cover blisters and cuts to keep them free from bacterial infections. Sometimes open sores may indicate an underlying, chronic condition, such as diabetes. The sores may also be related to contagious skin disorders.
BREAKS OR SPRAINS
Wait for permission from a physician. And, do not remove a cast or bandaging to offer reflexology. Work with what tissue is available to you and focus on a gentle touch and slow movements.
This may be a good option for Reiki.
Fever is not a health issue. It is a symptom of an infection somewhere in your body.
For me, fever is one of the most important symptoms you may experience. It can indicate a heart attack, tumor, trauma, or a reaction to a vaccine.
Reflexology offers homeostasis which is important when a person has a fever. Returning your body to an ideal temperature is one of the best outcomes a person with fever.
Giving a reflexology session to a person with a fever can be a healing situation once you understand the cause.
FEAR OR ANXIETY
The final item on my list is highly personal. If I suspect a person is afraid of receiving reflexology or is experiencing anxious emotions about being on my table, I offer to cancel or postpone the session.
Sometimes, people who have never received bodywork or healing are unsure about being ready for a session. This is not the time to change someone’s mind or feelings.
They can always reschedule the session at a time when they feel calmer about their session.
Throughout the years that I’ve offered healing sessions, I’ve had only two people arrive for appointments. I knew the minute I saw them that something wasn’t “right”.
I followed my intuition and offered to cancel or reschedule the appointment. Both people were relieved to receive my offer. And I was happy I offered to cancel or reschedule. The moment the words left my mouth I knew they were the right words.
Thank you for reading this article!
None of the above contraindications occur often. But when they do happen, I like to feel I am following guidelines learned in classes throughout the years.
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Some information in this post was shared from “Healer’s Handbook”. More extensive information regarding contraindications may be found in prior blog posts and on presentations on YOUTUBE.
If you have any further questions or remarks, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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