Sally Kay, internationally acclaimed reflexologist who created, researched and developed Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) from first principles through extensive clinical practice. This innovative approach to reflexology has attracted national and international awards and wide spread recognition. Sally has travelled extensively teaching RLD and as an international guest speaker. Sally is well known for her work delivering excellence in reflexology.
Article words by Kelly Hainsworth and Sally Kay
I spoke with Sally to learn more about her work as a reflexologist, researcher, tutor, author and founder of Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD).
(1) Could we start by you sharing a little bit about yourself?
Based in South Wales and surrounded by my family who are a big part of my life. I was a bit of a late bloomer academically only really kicking in when I discovered the amazing world of complementary therapy, in particular reflexology! It was the first time I was truly engaged with education and it has since, transformed my life!
I love to travel and following my research & development of RLD I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world, from Alaska to Auckland, and some wonderful places in between. Meeting and connecting with so many lovely like-minded people, as a guest speaker and teaching RLD.
I love to be in contact with nature and enjoy taking long walks with my dog.
Through RLD I have found greater confidence in reflexology which has reflected in my own self-confidence, it has been a bonus for me!
In the last couple of years I’ve got into wild swimming enjoying the well-being benefits associated with it.
(2) What was your first experience of reflexology and what inspired you to train as a practitioner?
I always say, that like a magic carpet, reflexology picked me up before I hit rock bottom!
In 2004, during a stressful time a close relative, treated me to a reflexology session to help me cope with everything I was going through. From that moment on, I’ve been hooked!
It was a turning point in my life and within days, I had signed up on my first course at the local college. It was a full-time course, level 3 diploma in holistic therapies. The course syllabus included reflexology, massage, aromatherapy and A&P, and although I was more interested in the reflexology, it was a truly inspirational learning experience which has shaped my life.
(3) At what point in your career as a reflexologist did you become interested in research and how did this develop into your famous Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) technique?
A year after first qualifying I got a part-time job working in supportive cancer care clinics where I saw between 20 – 30 people a week, patients & carers.
After 12 months, in 2007, hungry for more knowledge, I signed up for the BSc (Hons) Degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying part-time over 4 years rather than 3 years full-time, while continuing to work in the clinics. The initial research project was part of my final year dissertation.
(4) For members of Love Reflexology who are not familiar with this technique and its benefits, please can you share what it is and how it may support clients.
Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD), a focused treatment on the lymphatic reflexes of the feet. The aim is to cause an effect on the drainage function of the lymphatic system in the body.
This unique RLD protocol can be used to help clients with breast cancer related lymphoedema (BRCL). The published results indicate a measurable, significant reduction of swelling in each participant. And with that, improved quality of life.
Using the anatomical reflection theory of reflexology to isolate the lymphatic reflexes and work sequentially to cause an effect on the drainage function of the lymphatic system in the body. The results support the theory of reflexology as well as a positive impact on the quality of life for breast cancer survivors.
RLD teaches us how a reflexology treatment enables tangible and intangible outcomes to be measured, and why data collection and analysis is beneficial to our profession.
Years of clinical experience, and thousands of RLD case studies from others, have shown that the techniques are also beneficial for clients with non-cancer related auto-immune inflammatory disorders. Exciting times for reflexology!
(5) If members of the community would like to start their own clinical research, what top tips would you share with them to help get them started?
Start small and keep it simple!
Introduce an outcome measure into your practice, whether you’re self-employed or working/volunteering in a different setting. With this you start to notice a recurring pattern with clients which can shape the hypothesis for your study.
(6) Do you have plans for further research in the future?
Cardiff Metropolitan University have plans to further develop the RLD research. The results of which continue to amaze and delight!
To date there have been three peer reviewed published research papers.
The latest was published in the British Journal of Community nursing. The first and second papers were published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Links to the abstracts can be found on the RLD website. The RESEARCH tab has a drop-down menu with links to the abstracts.
(7) Following the success of your research you became a tutor and author to share RLD further. What challenges did you face writing your course and book? What did you learn about yourself at the time?
The course is based on the original RLD protocol which was formalised as part of the NHS ethics application for the first research study. Creating and developing teaching material became a passion, it had to be right to protect the integrity of the protocol, which works! For the time being, I’m still the only RLD tutor, although at some point in the future I hope to train other trainers.
The book was a real labour of love, challenging and thrilling in equal measures. I’m immensely proud of it. There’s nothing quite like holding your first copy!
(8) What has been your greatest achievement in your business?
My greatest achievement is creating and developing RLD, a reflexology protocol now helping so many people worldwide, specifically people living with breast cancer related lymphoedema. For many, RLD is the gift of ‘hope’ in a hopeless situation. The research and then teaching RLD has made this possible. I’m also immensely proud of all the reflexologists who have trained with me and are now helping others.
(9) Having created a successful business, what advice would you share with a reflexologist who is feeling stuck within their business?
Don’t compare yourself to others!
Never give up! If you believe in something good keep going.
(10) What exciting plans do you have for the final part of 2022? Any exclusive news?
Shhh! I’m 30,000 words into my second book!
In October I’m launching a new one-day CPD course, Reflexology and the Immune Health, adapted reflexology skills for clients with inflammatory autoimmune disorders. It’s a pilot day and I’m really looking forward to teaching this new course.
2023 plans include more in-person RLD courses, as well as continuing with online training which has exceeded all expectations, including mine! I have been amazed and delighted by the quality of RLD case studies received in the last two years.
Quick Fire Questions – Get to Know Sally More.
(1) What is your favourite place to go on holiday?
Atsitsa Bay, Skyros – A holistic well-being holiday retreat. I also love Tenby in Pembrokeshire, hard pressed to choose one!
(2) Kombucha or wine?
(3) Paper or online diary?
(4) Instagram or Facebook?
50/50, there are advantages to using both. The RLD Facebook group has 9,200+ members. It’s a great way to connect an RLD trained reflexologist with a potential client, frequently facilitating connections around the world. It’s Facebook at its best!
The Reflexology Book Club Facebook group, set up in March 2020 has been a great community for many of us during the lockdowns. It’s a place for caring and sharing, to give more than you take and has approximately 40 hours of recorded talks still available to watch on catchup!
(5) What is your favourite well-being book or podcast of all time?
A constantly evolving source of inspiration, growth and education, too many to mention!
At the moment, my inspirational thought for the day is from, The Boy the Mole the Fox & the Horse – by Charlie Mackesy.
Todays page/message – “What do you think is the biggest waste of time?” – “Comparing yourself to others said the mole”.
In the last 12 months I’ve followed Wim Hof, the Ice-man! Breath work, cold showers, wild swimming and more recently, ice-baths. It’s been a revelation to me as someone historically prone to cold hands and feet, who knew? Highly recommended, try it! I’d love to hear how you get on!
Sally’s Business Tips
- Be confident in your reflexology skills. The real learning begins once you’ve got your certificate, the more feet you can work on the more you learn! Clients are our greatest teachers.
- You are good enough! Don’t compare yourself to others it’s a corrosive to self-confidence.
- Share your passion, talk about reflexology as often as possible.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Keep an enquiring mind and a healthy curiosity.
Remember reflexology is not a competition, we are all only as good as our last treatment!
Sally Kay, internationally acclaimed reflexologist who created, researched and developed Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) from first principles through extensive clinical practice. This innovative approach to reflexology has attracted national and international awards and wide spread recognition. Sally has travelled extensively teaching RLD and as an international guest speaker. Sally is well known for her work delivering excellence in reflexology. For more information about RLD and training with Sally please visit the RLD website.