What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a misunderstood massage modality. Most people think it's a foot massage, and unfortunately, some therapists treat it like that. So what is reflexology? Reflexology is a nonintrusive
complementary health therapy, based on the theory that different points on the feet, hands, and ears correspond with different areas of the body.
Within the body there are a number of invisible energy pathways, called meridians that carry our life energy or our Chi. When these pathways become blocked, due to stress for example, then an
imbalance in our health may result.
The act of giving a foot massage dates back to around 2330 –2500BC. This is depicted in the tomb of an Egyptian physician called Ankmahor, in Egypt, which shows two men working on the feet of
two other men.
Reflexology, as it is known today, we re-introduced to the modern world by Eunice Ingham, who is considered to be the “mother of modern reflexology”. Her theory was that the foot was linked to
various parts of the body by a countless number of nerve endings. These nerves are carried through the body via the energy zones that run the length of the body from head to toe. There are five
energy zone, or channels, on each side of the body continuing down the arms to the fingertips.
It is thought that the nerve endings correspond to a map of the human anatomy. If you place the soles of your feet together, you can actually see the shape of the human body, the big toes being
the head and neck of the torso, the base of the little toes being the left and right shoulders and each instep is the left and right side of the spine.
When done properly, reflexology is a deeply relaxing treatment with benefits that can be felt throughout the body. The therapist will use various techniques that include holds, finger pressure, kneading, rotation and rubbing.
The Effect of Reflexology Should Be Felt Throughout the Body
The best therapists also include hands and feet as part of the reflexology treatment, and you should feel an effect through the entire body. If the therapist is less skilled or inadequately trained, you'll
just feel like you've had a very long foot massage.
Reflexology is a very individual treatment which is tailored to you as a whole person, taking into account both physical and non-physical factors that might be affecting your wellbeing. Some people
find it works for them - some don't. The best way to find out is to try it!
Reflexology helps the body to restore its balance naturally. Usually, after a treatment your tension may be reduced and you might feel relaxed. You might also notice yourself sleeping better and find
your mood and sense of wellbeing improving. You may also find that other aspects improve too; however, this happens on an individual basis.
With ever increasing levels of stress in everyday life, it is important for people to take more responsibility for their own healthcare needs. Reflexology may be one of the ways to mitigate the stresses of modern life.
The focus of the session
Regardless of your health condition(s) (for example, migraine, nausea, sciatica, etc.), the reflexologist focuses on the entire pattern of the reflexology therapy, starting at the toes and working down the foot. A complete reflexology therapy session uses many different techniques and includes all of the points on both feet (and perhaps the hands and ears). By working all of the points, the reflexologist addresses internal organs and glands as well as muscle groups, bones, nerve ganglions (solar plexus, brachial plexus) and nerves (sciatic) during a session.
If you have a specific condition, such as migraines, the reflexologist will carefully feel and work the area corresponding to the presenting problem. However, they will also work all areas of the foot with firm pressure, because, as this allows the nerve pathways and congestion to release and promotes the relaxation response for the entire body.
How pain and discomfort is handled
The first thing to understand is that the reflexologist stimulates the nervous system to do the work of balancing and releasing; it is not the therapist who "fixes" discomfort. In other words, “releasing
pain" is not the model; the goal is rather to bring the whole body into balance, and then the pain will subside.
If reflexologists find pain, congestion, or tightness during the session, they will apply pressure to work on bringing the body back into balance. The reflexologist can return to that area or spot at the end of the session, confirming the pain has released. Throughout the session, the reflexologist will stay present, grounded, and in a calm and centred state of awareness.
Foot Reflexology Benefits
Think about how much stress your feet go through each day. No body part is more abused than your feet. Standing, running, jumping – our feet do it all! Reflexologists believe that overall health
begins in your feet and travels up.
The benefits of a reflexology foot massage are endless – not to mention it feels downright great! Although there are no “hard facts” to prove what a foot massage can really do, practitioners and patients alike claim that reflexology can:
- Cure colds/minor ailments
- Prevent/cure diseases
- Increase energy
- Relieve stress, pain, and anxiety
- Improve blood and lymph circulation
- Prevent injury
- Relieve pain from MS and chemotherapy
- Stimulate activity of internal organs
- Successfully treat liver dysfunction, constipation, IBS, chronic headaches, and skin allergies
- Relieve pressure on legs and feet in pregnant women
- Reflexology can be a good treatment choice for people who want to keep their clothes on during a massage.
- It is also a good choice if you are pressed for time and don't want to get oil on your body or in your hair.