I’VE never paid too much attention to my feet.

And the thought of people touching them makes me shiver.

But I had somewhat of an epiphany in Claire Pretty’s therapy room as she rubbed essential oils into my heels.

Alternative treatments like the one I was experiencing made me realise just how important this kind of therapy is to our general wellbeing.

The last week of September is known to all in this field as Reflexology Awareness Week.

Claire personally wanted to use this week to highlight how reflexology can be used to de-stress and manage anxiety.

She strongly believes if GPs worked closely with reflexologists and complementary therapists they could save the NHS a lot of money, as a vast amount of health conditions are stress related.

Being the world’s worst worrier, I was the perfect candidate for her.

Claire, who has been a reflexologist for 18 months, said: “The art of reflexology dates back to ancient Egypt, India and China and the modern concept used today was developed in the 1930s by a lady called Eunice Ingham.

“Reflexology is a complementary health therapy used alongside conventional medicine. It is based on the theory different points on the feet and hands correspond with different areas of the body.

“There are more than 7,000 nerve endings on the feet alone and one theory is nerve responses are sent to the brain when these points are stimulated on the feet.”

There is little scientific research to support the theory so those who perform it have to be mindful of any clinical claims they make.

Claire has a City and Guilds Level 3 qualification and her training comprised of ten months visiting a training school, an anatomy and physiology exam and also 100 case studies.

I could tell her knowledge from our thorough consultation and the way she catered each movement to my requirements.

After talking through medical conditions, diet and lifestyle, Claire turned up the soothing music and got to work massaging each foot.

Certain parts of the foot required more attention than others, and each foot received a different kind of treatment.

I’m not usually one to be able to switch off from the outside world, but during the session my mind was completely tuned in to what was happening in that room.

I could have easily fallen asleep, feeling all the tension drain from me.

Claire’s level of professionalism is exemplary and she advises anyone looking for a reflexologist to consider finding someone who has the same qualifications.

We talk about what made her want to go into this line of work.

“I had always worked with children since leaving school and decided a few years ago it was time for a career change,” she said.

“I love natural healthcare and will always try a natural approach before turning to conventional medicine.

“This might be through diet or natural healing like essential oils and even meditation.

“I have also explored and had success myself with natural ways to manage stress and anxiety and because of this, I really wanted to share this knowledge with others.”

A big part of a reflexologist’s work is to listen to their clients.

They often talk about personal difficulties they are having, mentally and physically and it is important reflexologists signpost them to other professionals if necessary.

We talked in depth about my worries and medical conditions, and I felt totally at ease sharing everything with her. Of course, anything discussed in Claire’s treatment room is completely confidential.

Already feeling the burden of a busy week, I was grateful for the relaxation which is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, as well as tension.

But reflexology does not only relieve stress and anxiety, it is also good for menopausal symptoms, poor circulation, support during pregnancy and digestive issues.

Depending on the issue, different parts of the feet are worked on.

“During a reflexology session, I work across a client’s feet using different massage techniques,” Claire said.

“Sometimes I feel areas of congestion or tightness and these are the areas I take note of and pay extra attention to.

“Sometimes people are resistant to the idea of the different points on the feet corresponding to the parts of the body and we don’t, at the moment, have the scientific evidence to support this theory.

“My advice to anyone unsure if reflexology will work is to give it a try and see whether you feel any benefits. There are more aspects to reflexology than just the reflex points.

“The benefits of relaxation are evidence based and this is a huge part of reflexology and one that people can relate to easier.”

From the session I was interested to learn the part of my foot which ‘connects’ to the spine required particular attention.

But the most important thing I took away is knowing I was able to just switch off for a moment, which is something I rarely allow myself to do.

There was one final thing I had to clear up - I asked Claire how she got over the fear of feet.

“I have to say touching feet has never been a problem for me,” she said.

“I find them quite fascinating especially when something I feel in the feet does link with what the client is experiencing.”

Having never experienced this kind of therapy before, I have to say I support her way of thinking.

Maybe my opinion on feet has changed.