Reflexology can be traced back to Ancient China, India and Egypt. In the United States, it was introduced in 1913, by Dr. William Fitzgerald and Edwin F. Bowers. Dr. Fitzgerald believed the application of pressure on certain body parts aesthetically affected other body areas. Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist, believed that feet and hands were uniquely sensitive. In 1930s she mapped the human body into feet reflexes renaming the therapy into reflexology.
What Is Reflexology?
The Cochrane Collaboration reflexology definition is pressing or mildly manipulating certain body parts to produce effects elsewhere within the body. Also referred to as Zone therapy, it is a type of alternative medicine. It involves pressure application on hands, feet and ears using precise hand, finger and thumb techniques.
Reflexology massage is based on a system of reflex areas and zones that correspond to specific body parts and organs. Applying pressure to these zones affects the organs and promotes your health. Reflexologists believe that your body is an energy channel that consists of 12 vital organs located between your feet and the top of your head. By applying pressure, a reflexologist unblocks this channel to restore optimal health.
Although the therapy is not applied to cure health conditions or diagnose them, it’s commonly used to complement contemporary medicine. Reflexology has been used to complement the treatment of health problems such as stress, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, asthma, cancer, kidney function and sinusitis.
Foot massage focuses specifically on your feet addressing specific reflex points to stimulate a physical healing reaction in corresponding body organs. Reflexologists work with foot charts that direct them on which areas to apply pressure on to attain results in specific areas.
Massage therapists, physical therapists and chiropractors are among the professionals who most commonly practice reflexology. Sometimes they use items such as rubber bands, sticks of wood and rubber balls to support the therapy.
Foot reflexology focuses on five basic zones located on the soles of your feet. Incorporating the five toes, your head and neck zone has points that corresponds to the eyes, sinuses and ears. Located at the ball of your foot is the chest area which is linked to shoulders and lungs. The pelvic area is positioned at your heel and corresponds to your buttocks and legs.
The spine zone is considered the most crucial feet massage zone and is found where your foot connects to the toes. This zone can be thought of as a communication pathway between your brain and nerves, muscles and bones. Located at the widest part of your foot, the waist-line area is connected to your stomach, intestines, and liver.
Benefits of Foot Reflexology
Reflexologists supports your body to restore its balance in a natural manner. A non-intrusive health therapy, it relaxes your body and is considered safe for people of all age groups from infants to the elderly. According to reflexology, your health begins from your feet moving upwards. Major benefits of the reflexology massage include the following:
- It leads to increased energy and reduces anxiety
- It eliminates toxins and improves blood circulation
- It increases lymphatic fluid circulation enhancing your immunity
- It helps in the management of digestive disorders, skin conditions and liver problems
- It relieves stress by stimulating relaxation which raises your emotional state
- In pregnant women, a foot massage alleviates pressure from legs and feet
- It promotes internal organ activity
- It relieves multiple sclerosis pain and reduces chemotherapy consequences
- It prevents injury and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
- It leads to better and deeper sleep
A Foot Reflexology Session
When you get to the reflexologist, you will be required to sign a consent form and a complete medical history will be taken and kept confidential. The visit begins when you remove your shoes and socks. You then become comfortable by reclining or sitting and sometimes a foot bath may be offered, where no oils or lotions are used.
The therapist will then use their hands in thumb-and-finger motions that resemble “walking” patterns. These movements comprise a reflexology massage and slight stretching of specific foot zones corresponding with the problematic organs. A normal session takes between thirty to sixty minutes and can focus on a specific problem or be generalized.
Even when a reflexologist is addressing a specific health problem, all foot pressure points are massaged. Working on the whole foot clears blockages and opens up nerve pathways stimulating all body relaxation.
Foot reflexology is individualized to suit personal needs allowing for physical, emotional and mental factors that affect your health. During treatment, you may experience some discomfort, but the general experience is relaxing. Your therapist may recommend several sessions and at the end of each session, self-care instructions are addressed and feedback obtained.
When to Avoid Reflexology
The main purpose of a reflexology massage is to eliminate congestion from your nervous system as well as balance your energy. Since people are different, reactions to reflexology are diverse. Overall, it is recommended to avoid the therapy in any of the following occasions:
- When you have open sores on your feet
- Wounds, burns and infections on your feet
- When you suffer from gout
- If a cancerous tumor has been recently removed
- If you have undergone surgical procedures like wart removal,
- In later pregnancy as it may stimulate labor contractions
- If you have active blood clots, avoid rubbing near them
- Chronic skin changes or lower extremity swelling resulting from vascular problems on your feet
What to Remember
- After your feet massage ends, wait for at least an hour before you eat
- Drink water after the foot rub to remove lactic acid buildup and eliminate toxins
- Provide feedback to your reflexologist as this helps individualize the therapy
The benefits of foot reflexology are numerous and diverse. It can be difficult to predict exactly how your body will react to the therapy beforehand, so the best way is to simply try it out. Without a doubt, feet massage is a sure way to reduce stress levels in your life and improve your overall health.
Personally I LOVE Reflexology. It opens and releases energy for me in every area of my body. It relaxes and is very nurturing. Reflexologist are seemingly everywhere. The one I go to is at a mall. I have friend that use an app on their phone called Yelp. It offers reviews of places from customers who have experienced their services. Find one and Enjoy!
Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.