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Sand between your toes
Massage Magazine: Sand between your toesThe story would have made a perfect cover for a covert training mission: Two Reflexologists from the United States are invited by the Kuwaiti government to teach in a state-run military hospital.

But in the case of Lilian Tibshraeny and Dwight Byers’ spring 2000 training in the capitol city of Kuwait, the only "cover" story was when Tibshraeny was reprimanded for lifting the wrap worn by a female physiotherapist too high above her ankle. Kuwaiti women, like women throughout the Muslim world, are required to remain completely covered when in public.

The copious draping, except for that one incident, didn’t prove an impediment to teaching reflexology to physiotherapists at the Armed Forces Military Hospital, Tibshraeny said, as long as the women and men remained separate during the practical part of the training.

Tibshraeny and Byers, educators at the International Institute of Reflexology in St. Petersburg, Florida, have taught throughout the world, but last spring’s trip to Kuwait was the first time either of them had been invited to an Arab country.

"The [hospital’s] department of physiotherapy was interested in expanding their alternative medicine [offerings] and skills and contacted our London branch," Tibshraeny said.

Health care in Kuwait is free and provided in state-run hospitals. Following the trend throughout the world, interest in complementary medicine is growing. This reflexology training, Byers was told, was the first of an educational series in complementary therapies that the hospital intends to offer.

The five-day reflexology training was offered to 35 physiotherapists, almost all of whom spoke fluent English. Most had little knowledge of reflexology, the manipulation of reflex zones on the feet and, sometimes, the hands, but were interested in how it could aid their patients suffering from back and joint problems. During the week, many of the hospital’s physicians also sat in on the lectures, Byers said.

"They knew we were there, and were interested in asking questions, how the physiotherapists could assist them in working with certain problems," he said.

Calling the trip a success, Byers, who is the president of the institute and the nephew of Eunice Ingham, the "grandmother of reflexology," said the Kuwaitis have invited he and Tibshraeny to return next year.

"It was very successful and rewarding," he said. "They were very hospitable, couldn’t do enough for us … and they want us to come back."
Kelle Walsh

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