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)

Do You Work On Saturdays?

Another in the Frequently Asked Question series…

For some reason, a lot of people assume I don’t work on the weekend. Most Saturdays, though, I am available for sessions between 9:00am and 3:00pm.

Often on Saturdays, I am in a different room (at the same location), because I share space with another LMT a few days a month, and she gets the main room on those occasions. It’s a small room, but it’s cozy, and as long as I have enough notice to have the correct supplies, we can do any session type in there, even Thai Massage.

A few things to remember:

–My sessions are by appointment only, so make sure you get on the schedule! You can always see what’s available on my scheduling page.

–I rarely do same-day scheduling, so again, make that appointment ahead of time.


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.