The Effectiveness of Hand Reflexology on Chronic Hand Pain

First page

During my reflexology certification course, I conducted a case study about how hand reflexology might affect an artist’s chronic hand pain. It turned out to be quite helpful! I just found out it was recently shared in the most recent magazine of the International Council of Reflexologists. I’ve shared screenshots of the first and last pages here (the latter is particularly cool, because it gives the results of the study). You can click on the images to actually read them, and if you’d like to read the full study, here’s a link to it in the Academy of Ancient Reflexology’s research archive.

Last page (with results)

What to Wear (or not) During Your Massage

The most Frequently Asked Question in massage: Do I need to get totally undressed?

Short answer
No. Absolutely not.

Long answer
I think most massage therapists and bodyworkers (including myself) were taught in school to say, “Undress to your level of comfort.” However, I think that’s probably way too vague, and people new to massage have no idea what that means. Here’s what you need to know about clothing during specific sessions I offer: Continue reading

Peace of Mind & Peace of Nose

Lately, I’ve been meeting a lot of people who have been feeling really overwhelmed lately and are looking for some balance and stress relief, and also people who are bothered by the thick blanket of pollen that has been assaulting us here in north Florida recently. Since these issues might be overlapping, I thought I’d offer some ideas/tips for both.

Image of peaceful meditating nose

Sleep: Check out these tips for getting a good night’s sleep
Move your body: take a walk around the block or get down on the floor to do a little stretching and rolling around (Bonus–if you have dogs or cats, they will love this, and both of you will perk up from all the attention!)
Take a look at your recent eating and drinking habits: try to eat more fiber and vegetables (try roasting them for extra deliciousness) and drinking a little more water, and limiting processed foods and sodas/alcohol
Breathe: Here’s a video showing the 4-7-8 technique and here’s a post on alternate nostril breathing. (However, if your sinuses are clogged up, you might want to hold off on conscious breathing until you can breathe a little easier)
Bodywork: Massage or reflexology can be a great reset, and if you feel like you don’t have much time, don’t forget about 30 minute sessions. Go ahead and get your next one scheduled, since it’s easy to put yourself last and totally forget, until suddenly your neck or back is in spasm. (Actually, while you’re scheduling your next appointment, I’ll do the same for myself!)

Sinus relief
Wet washcloth: super simple–just wet a clean washcloth (I often use cold water, but hot could also be good–you could even alternate between the two) and place gently over nose, then breathe. This was very helpful to me during winter when the heat at the office was drying out my nose. I also find this helpful when I feel stressed. With a cold cloth, it’s easy to “refresh” it by waving it around to cool it again, and then place back over nose, eyes, and forehead
A few products that I love (but receive no profit from! Also, make sure to double-check that none of these things are contraindicated for you, if you’re under a doctor’s care): Arm & Hammer’s Simply Saline spray, Olbas inhalers (I’ve found these locally at Native Sun, Whole Foods, and Earth Fare), and Ricola original cough drops–all 3 of these have been useful to me combating congestion, headaches, and dry airways.
Bodywork: Guess what? Massage and reflexology can be helpful with this too! Feel free to get in touch with me and we can work to support sinus health through facial massage and reflexology, but you can do some work on yourself as well. The pads of the fingers and toes correspond to the sinuses, so you can try rubbing those areas, and you can do some self massage of your face (which you probably do instinctively), gently pull on your ears in different directions, and rub your scalp (basically just give yourself a good scalp shampooing–wet or dry)

What are some of your favorite ways to feel balance in your life and/or sinuses? Have you been doing them? Give some of these a try, or go back to some of your old “tried and trues!”

**meditating nose picture drawn by my dad!

All Your Gift Problems Solved Forever

Your family called, they would like a massage instead of socks this year

Hey folks! I realized recently that when I talk about gift certificates, I’m generally talking to people who are already my clients, which is great, but I really ought to be talking to their loved ones, who might be thinking about what to get them for a gift. They might know that a massage might be a good choice, but maybe they don’t know who they usually go to, or how to get a gift certificate, etc. So to help, I decided to make a little note that my clients (or even potential ones) can use for inspiration! Feel free to use this and personalize it, or create your own way. Check it out:

Dear significant other/child/employer/Santa,

It’s one of those times of year where you might be trying to think of a gift for me. While I’ve enjoyed the socks/ties/perfume/jam-of-the-month club memberships you’ve gotten me in the past, I have another idea…what I’d really love is a massage/Thai massage/reflexology session with Annalisa Derryberry, LMT. It’s something I’ll definitely use, and I’ll be a happier, more relaxed partner/parent/employee/believer-in-you.

You can purchase gift certificates at her store online, which you can print out and stick in a card or stocking, or email directly to me. It’s really easy, you’ll be supporting a friendly local business, and I’ll be sure to sing your praises as the best gift giver EVER!

Thank you, favorite person!

Thoughts on Pressure in Reflexology

If you’ve ever received reflexology on your hands or feet, you’ve likely heard the reflexologist ask you “How is this pressure?” Maybe it feels fine, but maybe you’re not sure…How do you know? What is the right pressure for reflexology? There are probably several answers to this, and it’s going to differ from person to person, but I’m about to tell you why I think medium pressure might be the best…

First off, let’s look at what reflexology actually is and what it is not. The Reflexology Association of America, the American Reflexology Certification Board, and the National Council for Reflexology Educators all define the work this way: “Reflexology is a protocol of manual techniques, such as thumb and finger-walking, hook and backup, and rotating-on-a-point, applied to specific reflex areas predominantly on the feet and hands. These techniques stimulate the complex neural pathways linking body systems, supporting the body’s efforts to function optimally. The effectiveness of reflexology is recognized worldwide by various national health institutions and the public at large as a distinct complementary practice within the holistic health field.”

Here’s something important to know: it’s not the same as a massage. As a “distinct complementary practice,” reflexology is separate from massage, with its own origin, history, and techniques. They also differ in intent and focus. The intent of massage is to relax muscle tension by directly working on the soft tissue, whereas reflexology intends to relax the nervous system (thereby indirectly relaxing muscles), and to improve the functioning of internal organs and glands.

Medium pressure, take me away!

How does it work? While we’re not really sure, the following are several theories:

Energetically: Reflexology is thought to break up energy blockages in the body, activating the healing force of the universe, which helps the body return to balance. Pressure-wise, many energy-balancing techniques, like Reiki, do not even touch the body, so light to medium pressure in reflexology will likely be quite effective.

TLC: Compassionate physical contact offered by the practitioner is thought to help initiate the body’s healing response.

Rest/Awareness: A reflexology session might be someone’s only respite from an otherwise hectic day. The rest, repair, and awareness gained from tapping into the body’s parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of “fight or flight” mode) can be catalysts for change to occur. Reflexology is almost magical at inducing relaxation. I’ve had so many reflexology recipients say they’ve never felt so relaxed so quickly.

Reflex Action: If I touch a hot stove, a message gets sent from my hand/fingers to the brain, which then sends a message back saying “OW—move your hand!!” It does not say “Yes, keep doing that—you’ll actually feel better!” The reflex arc is what we’re dealing with in reflexology—the theory is that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands which relate to different parts of the body. When we make contact through reflexology, the brain sends a signal through neural pathways to the related organ/gland/muscle. We don’t have to pound on it for it to get the idea. In 1932 Sir Charles Sherrington and Edgar Adrian earned the Nobel Prize for work on the physiology of the nervous system, proving that the whole nervous system adjusts to a single stimulus in an effort to coordinate the activities of the organism, which he termed the proprioceptive system. For instance, when a step is taken, the foot and leg move, but so does the rest of the body, adjusting to keep everything upright. Adrian made the discovery that the intensity of the nerve impulse is dependent on the size of the nerve, not on the strength of the stimulus. This suggests that deep pressure is not necessary in reflexology, as it is the contact that is important.

Disclaimer: The following is what I believe—you might feel completely different, and that’s ok!

Reflexology does not need to be painful to be effective. It is a stress-reducing modality at its heart and the goal is to relax. Of course, different schools and practitioners have different styles and focus. My school, the Academy of Ancient Reflexology, follows the approach that we slowly and thoroughly travel the whole foot with our thumb and finger walking, giving time for reflexologist and client alike to be aware and notice changes and sensitivities in the tissues. We’re working to support the body’s health, not to diagnose or treat/fix issues.
Pressure is a matter of preference—for both the client and therapist. I have found working at a medium pressure, where it’s deep enough to notice sensitive spots (where I will pause and give extra time for change to occur) but not so deep so as to cause pain throughout is most effective. Pain creates more pain, which makes it difficult to relax.

I started my studies in reflexology with the benefit of 13 years of being a massage therapist under my belt. Over the years, I have adhered to a “no pain, more gain” theory of working on people, but unfortunately, I’ve met many who have experienced way too much pressure from a practitioner, leading to days of soreness or bruising. Some are okay with that, because they say they felt so much better afterward. This is probably because the deep pressure caused a release of pain-relieving endorphins—like dropping a hammer on your toe might distract you from a pain in your finger—but why would you want to do that to yourself? Why not use relaxation and awareness and breathing to help dissolve pain, rather than brute force? Pain acquired over time might take a bit longer to go away (or it may not—the body is funny like that!)

As with many things in life, a little research before booking an appointment is a good idea—ask about the practitioner’s education, what she thinks her pressure is like, what she believes, etc. During the treatment, make sure you speak up if you need more or less pressure. If you come in for a reflexology session wanting very deep pressure and/or pain, I’m probably not the right practitioner for you. I will listen to what you need and try my best to accommodate, but I must also do what feels right to me. The first step to getting the most out of your reflexology appointment is be open-minded and see how it works for you, now that you know what the intent is—to relax and let the body return itself to optimum health!


Any questions? Call me at 904-274-1584

Need a mind/body reboot?

Do you feel stretched in a hundred different directions?

Obligations, deadlines, appointments, meetings, work, housework, sports, everything. More often than not, it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day, or days in the week, for all that needs to be done. We’re on constant high alert. We’re always moving.

All this chaos can be hard on your body and mind.

When this happens, we tend to be less mindful of our eating, start chasing sleep like it’s a lively kitten, or we get snippy with loved ones and coworkers.

The effects of this day-to-day stress are cumulative for most of us. Stiff joints get stiffer. Cranky shoulders get crankier, then one rogue golf swing or one heavy laundry basket makes it worse.

If fitness is your dinner, massage is your treat!

Massage is the mini-vacation you probably need, without the sand in your shoes and having to pull your computer out of your backpack.

Massage therapy is a reboot. It’s the control-alt-delete for your body and mind.
A massage resets your thoughts, slows your pulse, regulates your breathing, and recharges your mind.

Spend some time on my massage table, taking care of you. You can schedule online right here, or call me at 904-274-1584 to make your appointment.

7 Ways to Indulge in Procrastination

Napping cat

                 It’s ok to nap sometimes

In many ways “procrastination” is a bad word. To some it implies laziness, being unmotivated, distracted, unfocused and countless other trigger words. It means that we aren’t getting the things done we’re supposed to and we are failing as contributing adults.* Maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s not. The point is we heap a bunch of responsibilities and pressure on ourselves. There is always a deadline and there is always the next thing to complete.

But where is the real procrastination?

More often than not we are procrastinating on our self-care and the things that really matter. This National Procrastination Week (March 5-11), let’s focus on the holiday that is devoted to putting things off and delaying those oh-so-important tasks.

The focus for this holiday isn’t inactivity, but in being active in getting a mental and emotional break which will lead to decreased stress and anxiety. As a massage therapist, I am all about that.

Here are a few ways you can indulge in procrastination. (Don’t worry, all that other stuff will still be there when you’re done.)


Ahhh, a good book – there’s nothing like it. No matter the genre, reading is the quickest escape route into another land. Once you pass through that portal there’s no turning back. And if business or finance books are more your speed, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes the escape is in learning something new. Grab your library card or pay your local bookstore a visit. Many great reads await you.


Is there a hobby or enjoyable activity you’ve been putting off? Now is a good time to pick it up. Bake your favorite cookies. Cook a meal that reminds you of someone special. Knit a scarf. Write in a journal. Paint a canvas, an end table, or a masterpiece. Whatever your “thing” is, lose yourself in it.


Raise your hand if you procrastinate on doing dishes and laundry. (*raises hand*) While some find household chores relaxing,**  others can’t stand them or just never seem to have the time for them. Cleaning has become a “hurry up and get it over with” activity. Slow down a little and do the dishes by hand. Even if you don’t find it relaxing, you’ll walk away with a little more gratitude for the modern-day luxuries.


In some instances, exercise has become another chore. We do it because we know we need to and it will keep us fit and healthy. Sometimes we don’t see the benefit until it’s over and working out becomes another task we must complete. Try approaching exercise in a new way. Find something you enjoy doing. Something you can look forward to. Try yoga or meditation (for those with busy minds, keep a notebook nearby to jot down fleeting thoughts) or go for a walk on a new trail or in a different neighborhood. Just get out there and move.


Coffee, tea, water…margaritas–your choice. Get dressed up for a night on the town or dress down for a night in. Fly solo or invite a friend. For some, socializing recharges their batteries while others find energy in solitude. Do what suits you and I promise you’ll feel refreshed.


Find the nearest hammock, couch or shade. Sleep is essential and we don’t get nearly enough. The benefits of sleep range from improved memory, sparked creativity, improved athletic performance and weight loss to lower anxiety and depression levels. Granted, getting a good night’s sleep won’t prevent you from all disease, but quality sleep is a key factor in a healthy lifestyle.


It’s no surprise that one of my favorite ways to indulge in procrastination is through massage. I would get one everyday if I could. The mental and physical break in a treatment room cannot be beat. And if you’re still feeling the need to be productive, multitask by scheduling a massage and nap on the table/mat!

In case you didn’t pick up on it, procrastination week is also about changing habits. It’s about incorporating enjoyable activities in our busy, stressed out lives. It’s about finding some peace while being productive and keeping things in balance. Being riddled with daily stress and anxiety serves no one. Especially you.

*I’m a vocabulary nerd, and I took Latin in high school–the word is a combination of “pro” (meaning “forward) and “cras” (meaning “tomorrow”)

**Personally, I love vacuuming, and I partook in that activity while I was putting off editing this post.

A Look Back at 2016

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what I accomplish in a year, but here are some of my favorite (mostly) business-related things that I got done in 2016.

1) FCNMHP fundraisers—I did one in May and one in September, and, in total, we helped raise $560 for First Coast No More Homeless Pets, plus food and supplies for local cats and dogs in need. Thank you again, and hopefully we can do more good in 2017!

FCNMHP fundraiser collage

2) Online schedulingHave you tried this yet? It’s very simple and many of you have mentioned how much you like it. Remember, if you don’t see the time you’re looking for (or you’re trying for something same-day), do give me a call, because I might still be able to accommodate your request.

3) One year at current location—2015 saw several moves, but I’m so glad that this one has worked out, and I’ve been here for more than a year now. Also, I’ve had some officemate changes, and now my LMT friend Dawn is back, and the room is now all massage, all the time, plus we share a small second room, so there shouldn’t be any interruptions in scheduling. It’s small, but I’ve done both table and Thai massages in there, and it worked out just fine!

Massage room collage

New small room on top, fresh new layout of big room below

4) Running and runners—I started running again back in the summer, and have participated in several 5Ks this year, and even my first 10K. All this seems to have attracted more runners to my practice, and many of them have found Thai massage to be very helpful, especially for the legs and hips. Also, I discovered SportSuds detergent, which is amazing at cleaning workout clothes, but also those old towels that smell like dogs, even though you don’t have dogs (you know the ones!)

5) Thai massage videos—Speaking of Thai massage, it’s so much easier to understand this modality when you can see it in action, and I’m happy that this year I took a leap and had some friends help me make some video examples.

6) Resistance/Release workshops—In January and December, I was lucky to attend more workshops with Deane Juhan, deepening my knowledge and experience with this work, which helps engage the body with the mind through resistance, movement, and awareness. There are many ways to nurture and heal the body, and this kind of work encourages you to become a participant in your own healing.

Casa Micanopy collage

7) Cooking classes—I took a series of plant-based cooking classes early this year from Dawn Hutchins of Florida Coastal Cooking, which taught simple ways to eat more plants, eat locally, and to cook healthy delicious dishes. If you’re looking to improve how you eat in the New Year, definitely check out her website, which has lots of great info and recipes.

8)  Cultivating C.H.I. Retreat— I teamed up with some other health and wellness friends to guest-present at Cultivate Holistic Health’s first retreat, hosted by the wonderful Barbara Reid. It really took me out of my comfort zone, but it was so rewarding. I gave a presentation on the benefits of Thai massage, and taking the time for self care, and gave some Thai massage demonstrations. We had an excellent day of healing, relaxation, and renewal. If you’re interested in joining the next retreat, go to her website, and get on her list!

9) Informative post—I’m always trying to make sure my website is clear and informative, and I welcome your suggestions if you feel like something is missing! In October, I wrote a post so you could know just what you get from a massage with me. 

10) Folding a fitted sheet—Last but not least, I threw together this video, because I fold A LOT of sheets, and this is a very simple way to fold a fitted sheet, which seems to be the bane of many’s existence. It was surprisingly popular!

What things went well for you in 2016?