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"Spice It Up" Reflexology Treatment

Contact Author Darlene Fiske November 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, is introducing a new treatment this winter designed to recharge guests after a long day of cold-weather activities that include ice-skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Barbara Stirewalt, spa director, created the “Spice It Up!” Reflexology treatment to complement the holiday ambiance that guests experience at the facility. It combines the traditional techniques of reflexology with a light application of holiday-scented oils, including ginger, frankincense, orange and juniper berry.


According to the foundational principle of reflexology, called zone theory, energy streams through the body in 10 vertical zones. Pressing into a reflexology zone on the hands or feet balances the flow of energy throughout the related body zone.

Reflexology encourages muscles to relax and blood vessels to dilate, reducing circulatory restrictions. The uninhibited blood flow delivers abundant oxygen and nutrients to all cells, and transports toxins to organs that are responsible for elimination. Reflexology also works through the nervous system. Applying deep pressure alleviates congestion in nerve endings, enhancing circulation in the hands and feet, and soothing areas throughout the body that are connected to the cleared nerves.

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Reflexology improves energy flow, blood circulation and nerve function, strengthening the body’s natural healing processes and restoring total balance. Most sessions are relaxing and inspire mental clarity, as well as physical relief. Particular attention should be given to large intestine four, often referred to as “the wellness point.” It is located on the hand and is considered one of the most powerful points in the body. Focusing on this area is useful for balance, elimination, motion sickness, sinus relief and encouragement. On the foot, spleen six, with a high concentration of female meridian intersections, also should be given special attention. It helps to balance circulation, as well as relieve menstrual and lower-back pain.

Holiday-scented oils

The oils used in combination with the hand and foot treatment provide additional benefits.

  • Ginger—Warming, toning, pain relief, strengthens the immune system
  • Frankincense—Anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant, enhances concentration
  • Orange (sweet)—Natural antiseptic, uplifting, soothing
  • Juniper berry—Circulatory stimulant, detoxifying, refreshing


Marketing seasonal services

The “Spice It Up!” Reflexology treatment concludes with a cup of hot spiced apple cider and ginger cookies to further reinforce its seasonal theme. A similar ending can be applied to whatever theme or tradition you want to support at your spa or resort.

Seasonal spa menu items provide businesses with something new to market. Introducing a winter package with the featured service as a component is an effective way to drive new business and to entice repeat clients to sample something novel at your facility. Public relations, interactive marketing and direct mail all should be part of the marketing effort, depending on the occupancy levels and revenue goals that you are trying to achieve. For example, you could invite a reporter from your local television station to sample the service and let them know that it has been created especially for the holidays.

Take it a step further and share some statistics about the growing number of men who frequent spas, and suggest that reflexology is an ideal way for males to get acquainted with the experience. Be willing to canvass your male clientele to find someone who enjoys being on camera and talking about his treatment. If the reporter is interested, you will get great news coverage for minimal expenditure.

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Treatment: “Spice It Up!” Reflexology

Length of treatment: 50 minutes

Cost: $100

Contraindications: Pregnancy, athlete’s foot or other foot fungus, allergies to blended ingredients

Supplies and equipment needed:

Two hot hand towels

Witch hazel spritzer

Hand-blended oil in a jojoba base containing pure essential oils of orange, frankincense, juniper berry and ginger

Hot spiced apple cider

Ginger cookies


Place towels in a hot cabinet.

Prepare oil and witch hazel spritzer.

Step 1: Consult with the client in the treatment room. Determine any allergies or skin concerns, and inquire if any medications are being taken.

Step 2: Wash your hands before beginning.

Step 3: Start by asking the client to lie on their back Make them comfortable by positioning a bolster beneath their knees and neck. Discuss any issues the individual might like to address. Verify that the music selection and the volume level are enjoyable.

Step 4: Use preheated hand towels spritzed with witch hazel to warm and clean the client’s hands and feet.

Step 5: Apply a few drops of the “Spice It Up!” oil blend to your hands. Rub them together, and cradle your hands over the individual’s face. Ask them to take a few deep breaths.

Step 6: Perform basic warming effleurage to prepare the hands for reflexology. Execute standard deep reflexology, with an extra emphasis on shiatsu point large intestine four. Spend a maximum of eight minutes per hand.

Step 7: Begin warming foot effleurage followed by deep reflexology, with an extra emphasis on critical shiatsu foot points. Spend a maximum of 15 minutes per foot.

Step 8: When finished with both feet and hands, dry them with the edge of the draping sheet. Lower the table, and place the client’s slippers on the floor at the side of the massage table. Drape their robe over the same side.

Step 9: Provide an area of relaxation where the individual can enjoy hot spiced apple cider and ginger cookies.

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