Muddy reviews: Indian head massage and reflexology
We can't resist a wellbeing treatment at Muddy - what's not to like about lying down for an hour? Indian head massage + reflexology at Thame Therapy Centre, please!
Slap-bang in the centre of pretty South Oxon market town, Thame. It’s adjacent to the main car park, in which you can park for three hours for free (but avoid it on a Tuesday when the weekly market is in situ).
I’ll level with you – this isn’t a luxe wellbeing space designed with Instagram or glossy mags in mind. Peek under the cushions and blankets in the diddy treatment rooms and you’ll find sun-loungers and wicker conservatory furniture, plus the building is currently clad in scaffolding. That said, the focus here is on the treatments which is, obviously, the important bit.
Thame Therapy Clinic is no Johnny-come-lately outfit that’s jumped on the wellbeing bandwagon – the veteran practice has been going since 1989 and offers a vast range of holistic and complementary therapies (24, to be precise). There’s everything here from Thai massage to life coaching to hypnotherapy to zero balancing (nope, me neither). I fancied trying something new (to me) so I booked in for an Indian head massage, with a side-order of reflexology, which I had once before many moons ago and loved.
I felt in safe hands, literally, with Jill Roarty. A homeopath and reflexologist since 1993 with eons of experiences practising in salons, offices and working with people with mental health issues, she combines softly-spoken calmness with a sparky sense of humour. She’s careful not to make bold claims about what her treatments can do but points out that loyal clients have been visiting her for 25 years “and presumably it’s not just because they like me!”
We start with the head massage. It’s an ancient Ayurvedic practice but arrived in the UK in the 1970s when Indian doctor Narendra Mehta rocked up here with his healing hands. Focusing on the head (the clue’s in the name), neck and shoulders, it claims to help rebalance the body’s flow of energy. I’m not sure about that but it was certainly deliciously relaxing.
My only prior experience of head massage is the speedy, half-arsed one you get from the junior at the hairdresser’s when you’re being shampooed but, as you’d hope, this was much more involved and methodical. Jill moved up from the shoulders to the neck to the scalp to the face, with lots of work on the temples (where you automatically rub when you’ve got a headache) using a gentle-medium pressure. It’s apparently especially beneficial for those of us who spend way too much time hunched over a computer keyboard. One thing to note: don’t turn up with freshly blow-dried hair like muggins here as you will leave looking like Wurzel Gummidge, hair wild and coated in massage wax. I’ll spare you the photo. I’m not sure I’d book this to tackle a specific health problem but it’s certainly a serene way to while away half an hour and definitely ticks the self-care box.
So onto the reflexology segment of the treatment, for which I lie down with my feet elevated. The idea is that different pressure points on your feet correspond to different parts of your body, so if you press down on them you can “unblock” energy flow, much like needles do in acupuncture. I’m the most ticklish person in the world but it’s a testament to Jill’s silky skills that I didn’t fidget at all as she kneaded my trotters.
Not only did it feel pampering but Jill was spot-on in her observations. She correctly noted that I was sleep-deprived (I’d had insomnia that week), that there was something wrong with my left knee (I’d strained it at the gym) and that the most pronounced symptom of my hayfever was an itchy soft palate. Whenever Jill came to a point on my foot that corresponded with a problem elsewhere in my body, I flinched slightly as the flesh felt tender, while at other moments other parts of my body would tingle.
I’m as sceptical as the next hardened hack (er, hello Hero Brown) but there was definitely something going on there. I went home feeling mellow but alert, returned to my desk and focused on my work better than I had in weeks. Interestingly, the next day my knee injury had disappeared and my hayfever symptoms lessened. I’ve had similarly positive results in the past from acupuncture but the major pro of reflexology is that no ouchy needles are involved. I won’t leave it so long next time.
Combined Indian head massage and reflexology costs £42, which is good value for a 60 minute session. Jill also offers a 40 minute Indian head massage for £35.
Thame Therapy Clinic, 23 Upper High Street, Thame, OX9 3EX. Tel: 01844 215 555