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“Why do you go barefoot?” or “Why are you not wearing shoes?” Those are common questions people ask when they meet someone walking around in bare feet. This mostly happens when they’re going barefoot in public, but occasionally it also happens when they’re barefoot indoors especially when it’s cold or the floor may be dirty. A probably well-meaning or simply curious friend or family may ask them such a question. But it may be perceived as being judgemental or nosy.

So for those of you who are wondering why some people like going barefoot, let me ask you. Have you ever taken your shoes off after a long day at work or school? How did it feel? I bet most of you enjoy the freedom of being barefoot after your feet have been cooped up in hot and restrictive shoes for hours. In fact, many of you would take them off at every chance you have even if just for a few minutes. Don’t you wish you could be barefoot all the time?

Read more here:

Why Go Barefoot


“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself.” ~Brian Andreas

Do you ever forget to take care of yourself?

I know. You’re busy, and finding the time to take proper care of yourself can be hard. But if you don’t, it won’t be long before you’re battered from exhaustion and operating in a mental fog where it’s hard to care about anything or anyone.

I should know.

A few years ago, I had a corporate job in London, working a regular sixty-hour week. I enjoyed working with my clients and colleagues, and I wanted to do well.

But I had no life.

I rarely took care of myself, and I was always focused on goals, achievements, and meeting the excessive expectations I had of myself. My high tolerance for discomfort meant I juggled all the balls I had in the air—but at the expense of being a well-rounded human being.

So I made an unusual choice. I quit my job and moved to Thailand to work in a freelance capacity across many different countries and companies, which enabled me to set my own hours and engagements.

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I have had a weird period cycle for as long as I can remember. When I came off the pill a few years ago I lost my periods for over a year. It was pretty scary and the fearful thought of “what if I can’t have children” started to plague me. I investigated further and found I had PCOS. To the horror of a quick google search I started to panic. However, through eating well and using alternative medicine I have managed to get my periods more regular and balance my hormones. When I started to open my eyes to PCOS I realised I wasn’t to only one going through this so I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful people I’ve met along my journey. I’m very excited to share another one of my ‘7 Life Changing Tips…’ series with you. This time Gemma Ireland from Bodyflow shares her 7 Tips to help you manage and alleviate PCOS.

My motherhood dreams were shattered at the young age of 17, following a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis by a Gynecologist who said that I would never have a child. Against all the odds given, I was determined to prove this wrong. With the help of Reflexology and altering my diet and lifestyle, I felt I might one day be a mother. These conditions plagued me and became part of my life for several years, but I continued to follow the lifestyle and treatment I sensed were going to help my body to prepare for pregnancy. My tenacity proved me right; I am now a mother of a gorgeous 7-year-old boy and no longer suffer from either of them.

As a Reflexologist for the past 16 years, I have specialized in helping balance my clients’ systems that suffer from PCOS, fertility issues and so many other imbalances in the body. I have brought much happiness altering these problems…the natural way!

Read more here:


As a last resort, insomniac Maria Fitzpatrick tried reflexology – with surprising results

‘Have you had problems with your spine, madam?” There it is, I think to myself: the question that confirms that I was right to doubt reflexology. I would have been impressed, even hopeful, if the therapist, who knows next to nothing about me (except that I’m seeking a solution for chronic insomnia), had put his finger on my history of kidney problems while kneading my feet, or even found something disrupting the “energy pathway” to my tired brain.

My back – where I’m told there is a “blockage” – is possibly the only part of my body that has never caused me any trouble. It’s easy, at this moment, to see why many traditionalists believe reflexology practitioners to be nothing more than pseudo-science-peddling, fortune-teller masseurs laughing all the way to the bank.

And yet, the art of reflexology, which holds that every part of the body is “mapped” to a corresponding region of the feet, is positively booming in Britain. There are currently an estimated 35,000 reflexologists at work here, pummelling and prodding the nation’s soles – and, less commonly, hands – to provide relief for ailments such as sinusitis, asthma, allergies, migraine, angina and digestive complaints.

In the second in the series Alternative Therapies,  Kathy Sykes, the University of Bristol’s Professor of Sciences and Society, investigates the claims of the practice, which has risen from obscurity to the mainstream.

“Conventional medicine has its place, but exploring the alternatives can be very revealing,” says Doreen Baker, chief executive of the Association of Reflexologists. “I personally have benefited from reflexology: it has helped my asthma, and when I was recuperating from breaking my leg in three places, I found that, while a medical doctor’s exercises didn’t help strengthen it, there was a real difference after reflexology.”

The practice has its roots in ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Indian cultures, but was introduced in its modern form in 1915 by William Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat specialist. He noted that pressure on one part of the body seemed to produce a numbing effect elsewhere, and introduced the idea of energy zones, running, not unlike Chinese Meridians, from head to toe.

Then, in the 1930s, Eunice Ingham, an American physiotherapist, wrote a book, Stories the Feet Can Tell, developing the idea that tension in the body can be treated by massaging certain points on the feet. She coined the term reflexology, and one of her pupils introduced the practice to Britain in the 1960s.

Reflexologists believe that “crystalline deposits” of waste products, such as calcium and uric acid, accumulate around the nerve endings, of which there are seven thousand in each foot. By feeling these, a therapist is said to be able to identify a problem in a corresponding area of the body. Massaging these points is said to crush the deposits and stimulate the body to eliminate them, thus healing itself; revitalising the problem area while restoring balance and harmony to the whole person. Other reflexologists hold that its benefits come from stimulating circulation and “energy” via the nerves.

It is clear that there is no single thesis, even among therapists, as to why reflexology “works”. Nor is there a body of convincing scientific evidence showing that it does. Indeed, experts dispute any anatomical link, via nerves or otherwise, between the soles of the feet and the organs of the body.

And yet GPs, depending on their Primary Care Trust, can now prescribe reflexology on the NHS, along with other unproved complementary therapies. They do so because, for many people, reflexology provides relief for stress or pain. As Doreen Baker says: “We have more than 8,000 registered members. I don’t believe they would all still be in business if people weren’t getting anything out of it.”

Reflexology is essentially a form of massage. Studies have shown that massage can result in many physiological changes in the body, among them lowering blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, improving mood and immune function, and altering how we experience pain. While it does not claim to cure, diagnose or prescribe, reflexology, through its links to massage, is building up a stellar reputation in many hospitals, including Charing Cross and Hammersmith, and in Macmillan Cancer Relief hospices, where it is used to provide relief for cancer sufferers. A controlled trial at the Institute of Rehabilitation in Hull, yet to be published, has shown that it helps cancer patients to relax and cope psychologically with the after-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

As for insomnia – there is an end to my story. The therapist asks me if I have problems with my spine. “No, never,” I reply. However, there is a hot, searing pain when he massages my instep, under the ball of my foot. This spot, he tells me, corresponds to the spine. It hurts considerably more on the left foot, and I volunteer this information. Here, the pain lingers even after the massage is over.

He asks if I’d like him to look at my back. In a series of swift movements, he presses firmly on three points to the left of my spine, between my shoulder blades. And I yell. A knot of muscle, lodged next to my spine, has made its presence felt.

When I stand up from the table, light?headed, I nearly fall over. The next day, the area is red and a little bruised. But my whole posture feels different, realigned somehow. Two weeks later, I am sleeping for seven hours a night; my previous average was about three. Placebo effect it may be, but my head feels clear and my mental block about reflexology has disappeared.


Breast cancer patients benefit from Cardiff Met reflexology study




One of the participants sho​wing her left upper arm swelling at the start of the study (top image) and one week later after reflexology treatment. ​

A feasibility study conducted by researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University has found that reflexology reduces arm swelling in women with breast-cancer related lymphoedema. ​

Lymphoedema is a harmful and persistent side effect of breast cancer treatment, such as mastectomy, affecting approximately 20% of breast cancer survivors. This condition is painful and debilitating, making simple tasks such as driving and gardening more difficult.

Typical treatments involve compression sleeves and manual lymphatic drainage massage – both of which, although moderately reducing arm swelling, can cause discomfort. Women who wear the sleeve frequently report a negative psychological effect on their wellbeing.

This uncontrolled trial, which was funded by Tenovus Cancer Care and is featured in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice journal, saw 26 women from Bridgend, Cardiff and Tredegar receiving reflexology lymphatic drainage weekly for four consecutive weeks. These treatments involved 40 minutes of stimulation to specific zones on the feet which are presumed to correspond to the lymphatic and renal systems.

The team of researchers from Cardiff Met’s Complementary Healthcare Clinic measured a reduction in the volume of the affected arm – across the group the average percentage difference was 36%. Initial indications suggest that this reduction may be sustained for up to six months.

In addition, the researchers recorded a significant increase in patient wellbeing with comments highlighting less pain, more movement and a boost in body image.

This study was conducted after a third year BSc Complementary Healthcare student, Sally Kay, developed the new technique of reflexology lymphatic drainage as part of her final year dissertation. Sally won the Federation of Holistic Therapists’ excellence in practice award for research and development into reflexology lymph drainage for her work.

Speaking about this study, Senior Lecturer at Cardiff School of Health Science and project coordinator for this study, Judith Whatley said:

“The Complementary Healthcare degree programme at Cardiff Met is committed to developing the evidence base for complementary therapeutic approaches. Many of our placements are in palliative care where this kind of work has tremendous impact.

“Looking to the future, we will continue further research into the tracking of lymphatic fluid and the impact of reflexology on its movement in and around damaged tissue.”

Sally Kay added:

“The effect of reflexology on clients with this sort of lymphoedema has never been researched and measured in this way before. I am proud to have been involved in this project, and grateful for the opportunity to research and develop reflexology lymphatic drainage while studying at Cardiff Metropolitan where this kind of innovative project is nurtured.”

Breast cancer survivor, Sheila Harrison from Barry took part in the study and said:

“After having my lymph nodes removed I wore compression garments on my arm and hand for five years. They were restrictive, very uncomfortable and a constant reminder of the breast cancer with people constantly asking why I was wearing it.

“Soon after starting this reflexology treatment I found that I didn’t have to wear the sleeve and glove any more which is fantastic. I feel normal now – the same as everyone else.

“It was very interesting to take part in the study and I continue to receive reflexology sessions as it has made such a huge difference to my life.”

Make a small donation to support life changing research like this at Cardiff Met

Cardiff Metropolitan University is a Registered Charity*. Since we started fundraising in 2009 we have received over £1.5 million in charitable donations. The Development Fund was set up in to enable alumni, staff and friends to support innovative projects that actively transform lives. By making a donation to the Development Fund you will help the next generation to have a better future.You can find out more about the Development Fund here.

*Registered Charity no. 1140762​




Complementary medicine may not appeal to everyone but it changed Fiona Mortimer-Wood’s life, she tells Ellen Widdup.

As a teenager Fiona Mortimer-Wofionaod was struck down with a devastating muscle and skin wasting disease.

She became so weak she couldn’t even lift a kettle and would choke on her food because her throat muscles stopped working properly.

Specialists ran a series of tests and diagnosed her with dermatomyositis, an extremely rare condition brought on by stress.

There was no cure, they told her, but she set about trying to find a way to heal her own body and mind.

There began a journey of discovery into complementary medicine which led her in a direction which would shape her future and her career.

“I started to get ill straight after my A levels,” said the 40-year-old from Woodbridge. “My muscles visibly disappeared I had gradually adapted to it without realising how weak I was and how it was affecting me.

“I couldn’t lift a kettle, turning the steering wheel in the car was very difficult – I could barely get up from the ground.

“It got more and more serious – and then when I found myself swimming in a pool and suddenly realised I didn’t have the energy to get to the side I knew I had to do something urgently.”

Fiona believes her condition, which generally only affects very young or very old people, was partly mind over matter.

“I had a tough time at school as a teenager,” she said. “I hated school and willed myself ill so I didn’t have to go. I truly believe I brought the illness on myself.”

With a new understanding of her own mortality, she became determined to fight the symptoms and after plenty of rest and recuperation she decided to explore alternative medicine.

As she got stronger she decided to take a journey to Nepal where she became engrossed in a book about Reiki she bought to read on the plane.

“Two weeks later I went to Goa and met a Buddhist monk who taught me how to do Reiki,” she said. “I then started exploring reflexology and found that combining the two had a profound effect on my health.”

Today Fiona is an expert reflexologist and runs a successful business – Energy Treatments – in Suffolk.

But how does this ancient and somewhat controversial treatment work? And can it work for you?

“For many people it is a revelation,” said Fiona, a mother of two. “They try it once and they are hooked. The benefits are very obvious right from the off. For me it was like someone had flicked on a light.”

Reflexology is a non-intrusive complementary health therapy. It focusses on different points on the feet and a theory that these pressure spots correspond with different areas of the body.

But this holistic therapy places just as much importance on the mind and 
the spirit as it does on the body. It 
is a treatment for the whole 
being not just targeting the symptoms like traditional Western medicine does.

The Association of Reflexologists describes the treatment as one which is tailored to the “whole person, taking into account both physical and non-physical factors that might be affecting your wellbeing”.

But using the treatment does involve a leap of faith.

Perhaps due to a lack of research there is scant evidence of its healing qualities. Nonetheless the ancient civilisations of Egypt and China were huge fans of the practice.

And a growing band of supporters in the West all say the same: “I don’t care what the scientists say, it worked for me.”

Fiona has seen the positive effects for herself.

“An MRI scanner shows increased blood flow to the part of the body being worked on through the feet,” she said. “I think in time science will catch up and there will be more and more evidence to prove the treatment works.

“After all, while there is no concrete scientific proof yet, the world’s leading brains used to think the Earth was flat.”

Fiona also practises Reiki – which is about transferring universal energy through the palms allowing self-healing.

“I truly believe that the power of the mind is monumentally important in one’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing,” she said. “I have been told that 
my muscle wasting disease could return but I am doing everything in my power to prevent that happening.

“Reflexology and Reiki, I believe, have all helped me to protect my immune system from becoming so low again that it may re-occur.”

“We spend a lot of time bothering about how we look physically but very little time concerning ourselves with how we feel within,” she added. “Holding on to angst and stress eventually manifests physically.

“And with a growing pressure on our NHS I believe people need to take ownership of their own health and wellbeing.”

A 90-minute reflexology session with Fiona costs £40.

And she promises: “The treatment does not tickle at all.”

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stressEustress vs distress

In our lives we come across two different kinds of stress. Eustress is often seen as ‘good’ stress which enables us to experience excitement and gives us the ability to enjoy our lives. Distress is the opposite and is very damaging to our health.

Our bodies were originally designed to deal with stress in one or two ways – fight or flight. So when our ancestors came across a stressful situation (e.g meeting a sabre toothed tiger) stress allowed her to respond quickly to the threat. The hormones of our body created an environment for us to act.

These days our stress levels are likely to be affected by work, money issues, children and family in general. And instead of the immediate response of a flood of adrenaline which then quickly dissipates allowing our bodies to return to a calmer place we are likely to experience a long term level of stress with the stress hormones swilling around indefinitely and causing havoc to our well being.

Psychologically stress can affect our mood, our relationships, our view on life and our ability to function at our optimum performance – whether at home or at work.

Physically the effects of stress can be frightening:
• Heart problems
• High blood pressure
• Dizziness
• Panic attacks
• Hyperventilation
• Menstrual problems

Even the ‘lower level’ effects can have a significantly negative effect on our day to day lives:

• Increase in aches and pains
• More likely to have coughs and colds
• More likely to be affected by allergies
• Indigestion, heart burn and stomach ulcers
• Constipation, diarrhoea or IBS
• Weight issues
• Nausea

Reflexology and Thai Foot Massage can be used in a whole arsenal of tools to combat this stress.

As I mentioned last week – if we don’t look after ourselves then how can we look after others?

The benefits of these therapies – and others are:

• helps relaxation
• improves mood
• aids sleep
• helps relieve tension


And finally it can bring about an improvement in our sense of well-being.

What’s not to like?stress2

Information from International Stress Management Association UK –

I often find myself at ‘pamper parties’ and ‘pamper evenings’ and it took me to musing how we see ourselves when we have treatments such as reflexology.

What is it with this word ‘pamper’?

stress-391654_1280Seems a little self indulgent and a little naughty. Perhaps even something we do not entirely deserve.

I would argue having a reflexology treatment is not about ‘pampering’ – it is deeper and more fundamental than that. It is about well being.

It is about making sure we are operating at the optimum level for ourselves and others.

Whatever way we look – women are still the majority primary carers for children and others. We carry out most of the housework as well as often holding down a job. Men have their own responsibilities and expectations.

All of this is draining and tiring. Emotionally, physically and spiritually. It is impossible for us to keep this level of activity up without it having some kind of detrimental effect on our bodies, our minds and our souls. This could be physical symptoms of stress and tension, mental health issues or even the day to day mild panic which stops us from enjoying our lives.

So any time we give over to re charging our batteries and making sure we take care of ourselves is time well spent. We are not ‘pampering’ ourselves. We are looking after our own well being so we can continue to work as hard as we do looking after others. This counts for men as well as women.

Because if we don’t look after ourselves then how can we look after others effectively?
So the next time you consider a complementary therapy treatment as a pamper consider thinking of it differently.



Think of it as essential self maintenance.



Saturday 7th March – 12:30 17:00

Book an appt by ringing: +44 7960 047362

Another chance to have a short taster of this fantabulous therapy – see my Thai Foot Massage page for more details.

I will guarantee you’ll love it!