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Monday, April 7th, 2014

Sick and Tired of Headaches?

So, let’s get this straight – a headache is not a disease. It is the loud, persistent and painful voice of a body living with chronic stress, toxic blood, physiological imbalances and/or trauma.

It turns out that there are many bodies crying out for help in the United States:

  • 45 million Americans experience chronic headaches.[i]
  • Nearly 90% of the population experiences occasional headache pain.[ii]
  • People seeking treatment for headache pain account for 8 million consultations with physicians annually.[iii]
  • Migraine headaches alone account for an estimated 157 million days lost from work.[iv]

I was shocked when I first learned the above headache stats, and decided that I wanted to reach out to people in my community who were sick and tired of living with headaches, and who preferred to do something other than take drugs that were only masking their pain. In other words, people who were ready to take charge.

I decided to create a class that could help headache sufferers in my town identify what triggered their headaches (from a list of over 60 possible causes) and what type of headache they suffered from. Without this knowledge, it is very difficult for someone to make lifestyle changes that will bring about lasting results and/or for a therapist to design a targeted session of reflexology and massage protocols that can provide relief.

After having taught two of these community-based classes, I realized that I could actually help more people if I made the material available to licensed bodyworkers, who could in turn provide hands-on therapy, one-on-one coaching and/or lead small classes themselves in their own communities. Thus was born the 1-day, Say Goodbye to Headaches continuing education class.


Cephalgia (a headache) is defined as pain in the head and/or neck, and is classified as either episodic or chronic. Episodic headaches are triggered by a specific episode of stress; chronic headaches are frequent or even daily, associated with ongoing stress.

Headaches are categorized according to their symptoms, the area of the head that is afflicted, the frequency and intensity of the episode. The International Headache Society lists 200 causes of headaches. They separate the causes into three main categories: Primary, Secondary and Cranial Neuralgia/Primary Facial Pain/Other.

The United States National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (part of the National Institutes of Health) simplifies the IHS list into Primary and Secondary headaches, incorporating the neuralgia and facial headaches into one or the other two (mostly Primary). To make matters worse, many people experience more than one type of headache.

Primary Headache Pain

Primary headache disorders are said to occur independently, in that they result from changes in blood vessels, nerves and muscles, not as a secondary response to disease or injury. The most familiar primary headaches are associated with stress: migraine, cluster, and tension. A rebound or MOH (Medication Overuse Headache) is considered primary. Massage therapy and reflexology are very effective approaches to stress-related headaches, because they help restore optimal circulation and relax both muscular and nervous tissue.

Secondary Headache Pain

Secondary headaches are actually symptoms of underlying disorders or diseases, such as high blood pressure, injury, dental infections, earaches, sinus infections, psychiatric problems, chronic constipation, hormonal imbalance etc. Pain is the body’s way of communicating that something needs attention. This is the area in which reflexology can be very helpful, since reflexology works to support the health and functionality of the body’s organs and systems.

Cranial Neuralgia/Primary Facial Pain/Other

The causes of these headaches are many times idiopathic and affect the nerves that enervate the face and head. The trigeminal nerve (CN-V) and the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN-XII) are often implicated. Neuralgia is nerve pain occurring without stimulation of the nociceptors (pain receptor cells). A cold temperature stimulus (such as eating ice cream or being in an extremely cold environment) can act as a trigger.

Transform Lives – Transform Your Practice

If you would like to learn how to transform the lives of people living with head pain, and transform a sluggish practice into a thriving, focused business, please join me in Gainesville, Florida on Saturday, May 10th for Say Goodbye to Headaches. In addition to designing individualized hands-on session protocols utilizing reflexology, massage, hydro and aromatherapy, you will leave with the materials and skills needed to coach one-on-one or offer small classes in your community to those people who are sick and tired of living with headaches

[i] RealAge.com 2012


[ii] RealAge.com 2012


[iii] RealAge.com 2012


[iv] RealAge.com 2012



Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Living Without Regret

Are you on the fence about registering for the 2014 Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification? Are you telling yourself, “I’m not ready yet!” As my good friend Ron B. used to say, “What are you waiting for kid?”

If you’re reading this invitation to join us this year, then remember that amazing opportunities often present themselves way before we think we’re ready. Make the decision now to go for it – to follow your heart and dreams – even if no part of you feels “ready”. Don’t run the risk of living a life of regret; don’t let fear hold you back from doing something you feel born to do.

Do you know, most successful people start before they feel totally ready? The decision to start, even before you feel absolutely ready, may just be the launching pad to an amazing new chapter in your life. Think about that.

So, if your tush is starting to hurt from sitting on that fence, then I gently encourage you to hop down and take a chance – on yourself. As Nelson Mandela so wisely stated, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

Join us today. Classes start in two weeks. Continue reading Living Without Regret

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

First Put the Oxygen Mask on Yourself!

When I was flying up to spend the Christmas hols with my family, I listened to the airline attendant’s ubiquitous warning, “In the case of emergency, an oxygen mask will drop down in front of you. First put the oxygen mask on yourself, before attending to those traveling with you.” I realized that this is good advice for bodyworkers also.

I have been offering reflexology for 31 years, and massage therapy for 25. And why am I still able to do this? Because I know how to use my hands and body, so as to protect myself from injury.

I am always pained when I hear of bodyworkers who had to forego their dream and kiss their financial investment goodbye two years out from graduating, because of repetitive strain injuries. It doesn’t have to be that way folks! First take care of yourself.

With reflexology, I change my body position a lot. I open and close all my sessions standing, using my body weight to introduce opening and closing relaxation techniques, thus reducing the load on my hands. Then I sit for a bit, stand up again when I feel the need; so many of the techniques can be varied to suit either position. And speaking of techniques – there are so many, and so many that require you to use different parts of your hands and different digits; it’s not all just thumb-walking and finger-walking.

Here are four things I constantly monitor while I am working:

1. Aligning my digits and my hand to my forearm, so as to avoid static or dynamic loading through unnatural angles.

2. Putting both hands to work; ie. avoiding always using just my “dominant” hand. I’ve trained both to be equally flexible and strong and effective.

3. Paying attention to pressure. It’s a fallacy that reflexology must be administered at a pressure that causes pain to the recipient and/or giver. The effectiveness of the work results from the size of nerve endings in the feet, not by sheer power. My youngest client – just three days old – proved that to me many years ago, as I lightly worked on his feet with my baby finger, all the while watching the screen monitoring his breathing. Contact was all that was necessary to smooth out his breathing and increase his oxygen uptake.

4. The relationship of the height of my chair to the height of the massage table. This involves lowering the chair when working the plantar surface and raising the chair when working on the dorsal, lateral and medial surfaces. (See #1 as to why.)

I know that I will be able to provide loving therapeutic touch for many years to come, because I first put the oxygen mask on myself. How do you take care of yourself so as to enjoy a long career offering touch?

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Be Kind to Your Kidneys

If you’ve ever been for an acupuncture session you know that Chinese medicine places great emphasis on the health of the kidneys. That’s because the kidneys are said to store Jing Essence (pre-heaven essence),  “original qi”, the energetic blueprint that we inherit from our ancestors. The allopathic equivalent to original qi would be our DNA. It’s what we’re handed, the cards we’re dealt at birth, our life force – not to be squandered or abused mindlessly.

Next month is National Kidney Awareness Month – a good time to appreciate these organs (and while we’re at it, the other structures of the urinary system) that control the composition of the body’s internal environment. Contact clients now and suggest that they receive weekly reflexology sessions throughout March to support and revitalize these important structures.

Function and Failure

No surprise, the organs of the urinary system govern the water element of the body. Living creates waste, so our bodies need a built-in sanitation department; fortunately, we have the kidneys to take care of that critical function. They transform and excrete waste fluids and therefore play a significant role in the body’s detoxification processes.

The kidneys house the will; our drive and strength (think of two hands on your back pushing you forward). When the kidneys are healthy, we enjoy courage, vitality, intimacy; when imbalanced, fear, jealousy, aggressiveness and/or submissiveness.

Dysfunctions of the kidney and urinary bladder meridians result in a weak constitution, and can contribute to many maladies, including edema, cystitis, prostatisis, reproductive and hormonal disturbances (such as impotence and infertility), urinary tract infection, mucous accumulations, coldness, rheumatic complaints, ankle problems, knee, low back and lower limb pain, tinnitus, and dizziness. Reflexology techniques can support people dealing with these challenges and those at risk for kidney failure from high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Targeting the Urinary System

In Chinese medicine the kidney meridian begins on the plantar surface of the feet, between the second and third metatarsals. The urinary bladder meridian ends on the feet, on the lateral aspect of the fifth digit. Adding these points to a reflexology session focused on the urinary reflexes just adds to the efficacy of the treatment.

If you’re interested in learning more, and live in the vicinity of Gainesville, Florida, please plan to attend the March 11th meeting of the Suwanee chapter of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association.  I will be giving a 2-hour class, so drop by. (You don’t have to be a member; guests are welcome.) In addition to learning specific hands-on techniques to support the urinary system, you will learn what daily actions are supportive and non-supportive to the kidneys, bladder and ureters, and the relationship of the urinary system to the respiratory, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, digestive, endocrine and integumentary systems.

And please join me for a weekend workshop in Reflexology in Gainesville, Florida on March 29th and 30th – the Academy’s first workshop of the year. You will learn how to give a full relaxing session of foot reflexology to balance all the systems in the body.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Is It Time?

Ainsley's painting

Never before in human history has our planet been home to so many older people – and the data suggests this climb to continue.

In the United States, it is estimated that by 2030 there will be 72.1 million people older than 65. The 2010 census revealed that the 65 and older population is . . . → Read More: Is It Time?

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