Information on Reflexology
Definition of Reflexology
Originally known as Zone Therapy, Reflexology is a therapeutic treatment that focuses on the stimulation of different points on the foot that correspond to the organs of the body. Based upon the principles of traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture and acupressure, these pressure points, or zones, become sore or tender when the energy of the associated organ is unbalanced.
How Does Reflexology Work?
Even among Reflexologists, there are different theories about how and why Reflexology works. Many practitioners believe that the (qi) energy can become blocked as a result of improperly functioning energy channels, causing a buildup of stress, which in turn causes disease like symptoms. This view of Reflexology states that manipulation of the pressure points on the feet can not only diagnose these energy blockages, but treat them as well, restoring vital energy flow to organs and alleviating unpleasant symptoms. Another popular hypothesis is that stimulation of the pressure points in the foot causes the release of chemicals in the brain that help to balance the autonomic nervous system and relieve pain. This hypothesis links points on the feet to the body’s “fight or flight” response to danger, which releases a boost of adrenaline and dopamine.
History of Reflexology
Reflexology, in one form or another, has been practiced by many different cultures for thousands of years. Ancient texts and diagrams point to the practice of reflexology as far back as 2704 BC by Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Native American cultures. Despite its widespread use, this amazing treatment was virtually unknown to western medicine until 19th century European researchers began to study the stimulus-response aspects of the nervous system in greater detail. In 1909, Dr. William Fitzgerald began practicing Zone Therapy (a precursor to modern Reflexology) in Connecticut, while developing new methods alongside Dr. Shelby Riley. Eunice Ingham refined Fitzgerald and Riley’s findings into modern Reflexology during the 1930’s, and today its practice continues to evolve and gain broader mainstream acceptance.
How to Perform Reflexology: Tips and Techniques
- Check the patient’s feet for painful spots that feel tight or seem to be especially sensitive to pressure.
- During treatment, look for subtle, nonverbal cues that the patient may give in response to pain stimuli. Some patients will attempt to hold back from vocalizing the pain, which may cause you to miss problem areas.
- A few general guidelines on Reflexology points and their corresponding energy centers:
The points located on the toes affect energy flow to the head.
The heart and chest are linked to the points around the ball of the foot.
The liver, pancreas and kidney points are found near the arch of the foot.
Lower back and intestines are controlled by pressure points towards the heel of the foot.
For more detailed information on Reflexology pressure points, consult a printable Reflexology pressure points chart.
- Some smartphone owners can download a free reflexology chart smartphone app.
- In the case of serious illness, be sure to recommend that the patient visit a doctor in addition to their regular reflexology treatments. Reflexology should be complementary to other medical treatments, not a replacement for them.
- Experiment with Self Reflexology techniques using a golf ball or wooden roller. By experiencing the effects of a Reflexology treatment yourself, you will be better able to explain them to your patients.
Is Reflexology Safe?
Reflexology is safe unless the patient has severe foot problems such as infections, swelling (edema), broken bones, open wounds or brittle bones (osteoporosis).
Benefits of Reflexology
Reflexology has both preventative and therapeutic functions. People who are generally in good health can benefit from preventative measures such as stress reduction, improved circulation, stimulated nerve function, strengthened immune system, and an overall increase in energy. Reflexology has also been shown to help conditions such as Allergies, Arthritis, Asthma, Back Problems, Blood Pressure, Bowel Disorders, Constipation, Eczema, Frozen Shoulder, Gynecological Disorders, Hay Fever, Insomnia, Knee Problems, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscle Tension, Neck Problems, PMS/Hormonal Problems, Respiratory Problems, Sinusitis, Stress Disorders, and Thyroid Imbalance.