Deeply relaxing, calming and a wonderful way to boost both physical and emotional wellbeing, it’s no wonder that reflexology is such a popular complementary therapy. This powerful technique works on the principle that various parts of the feet and hands mirror parts of the body. With regular sessions, it can help a range of conditions and ailments, as well as being a great all-round stress-busting treatment.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a centuries-old technique dating back to ancient China and ancient Egypt which treats the body as a whole, working on both a physical and emotional level. The treatment works by applying pressure with the fingers and thumbs to specific points on the feet or hands which correspond to various parts of the body. By working on these ‘reflex’ points, it’s believed that reflexology can boost the body’s own healing energy and may relieve blockages in the flow of energy, restoring calm and better overall wellbeing.
Dr William Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat specialist, introduced what he named ‘Zone Therapy’ to the West in the early 20th century, having discovered it was effective for providing pain relief during operations. Following this, in the 1930s, American nurse and physiotherapist Eunice Ingham then pioneered the treatment as we know it today, developing a detailed map of the reflex points on the feet showing the corresponding parts of the body.
Who Can Benefit from Reflexology?
Reflexology is believed to work on the body as a whole to help ease tension, reduce inflammation and pain, boost circulation, eliminate toxins and encourage the body to re-balance. Anyone experiencing the following may benefit from the healing art of reflexology:
- Stress and anxiety
- Digestive disorders
- Menstrual and menopausal problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Sinus problems
- Breathing disorders
- Back pain
- Sleep problems
- Skin conditions
Reading the Feet
Prior to the treatment, the reflexologist will look at the feet not only to assess their general condition but also to build up a picture of the overall health of the client. For example, calluses, bunions and other areas of dry skin over a particular area may give an indication of corresponding areas of the body which may be are out of balance. Even the colour, temperature and shape of the feet and toes can give the reflexologist an understanding of the client they are treating.
Is it Painful?
Reflexology is a non-invasive therapy which uses gentle pressure. It is not painful, however, some tenderness may be experienced over congested areas. Sometimes, the reflexologist may be able to pick up on the sensation of sand-like crystals over areas of blocked energy which may feel more sensitive but this will be gently manipulated until it begins to disperse. After the treatment, it’s not unusual to experience mild flu-like symptoms and feeling emotional and more frequent urination. This is a positive sign as the body detoxifies and blocked energy begins to flow more freely. A good reflexologist will give thorough aftercare advice following a treatment.
Step This Way…
By studying reflexology, you will gain an in-depth understanding of energy pathways and which areas of the feet and hands correspond to which areas of the body and systems. It is a powerful treatment which should always be carried out by an experienced and qualified professional.
While reflexology is so much more than a foot massage, most sessions will end with a soothing massage to complete the treatment and leave the client walking on air. The following relaxing routine is similar to what you may experience and is a lovely way to release tired, aching muscles after a busy day. (Avoid if you are pregnant or have any serious health condition.)
Treat Your Feet
Complete one foot before moving on to the other.
- Bring one foot up to rest on the opposite knee. Gently rotate the ankle each way 4-5 times to free up the foot.
- Apply your choice of oil or lotion to the foot, sandwiching the foot between both palms and stroke slowly and firmly from the toes up to the ankles.
- Next, starting at the heel and working up to the toes, use both thumbs to make small circular movements all over the sole and the instep of the foot.
- Continue with thumb circles on the top of the feet, then run the thumbs between each tendon.
- Gently massage each toe in turn.
- Finish by placing the thumb in the centre of the foot, just underneath the ball of the foot in the little hollow. This is the solar plexus reflex point in reflexology and will help to relieve stress. Press as you inhale and release as you exhale.
Repeat on the other foot.
Safety and Precautions
Please note that Reflexology is not suitable for everyone. Always seek out a qualified practitioner to carry out your treatment and if you have a medical condition or are pregnant, consult your GP first. The information given is for personal information and interest only. It is not intended to offer professional medical advice or treatment of any condition. Always consult with your GP if you are concerned about any health condition.