Reflexology is an ancient holistic therapy based on the principle that all of the organs and systems of the body are mirrored through a network of zones and reflex areas on the feet. Energetically, all of these zones and reflexes are connected through a number of meridians. In health, energy is seen to be flowing smoothly and there is equilibrium within the body. In times of stress or illness, blockages can occur affecting one’s sense of health and wellbeing. Reflexology treats these blockages through the application of pressure around specific points in the feet that map into key areas around the body.
Origins of Reflexology
Reflexology has been practised for thousands of years and is known to have originated from ancient Egypt, India and China. The concept of reflexology began to emerge in the West in the 19th century when Dr. William Fitzgerald, a highly regarded ear, nose and throat specialist discovered that pressure, when applied to certain points on the body could numb and relieve pain and improve the functioning of certain organs. His research led him to formulate “zone therapy” whereby the body was divided into 10 longitudinal energetic zones; five on each side of the body. Dr. Fitzgerald’s findings and research were soon built on and in the 1930’s modern reflexology was pioneered by physiotherapist Eunice Ingham, a woman referred to as the “mother” of reflexology. She is credited with further developing "zone therapy" and establishing a system of reflex areas in the soles of the feet that correspond to other areas of the body.
How Reflexology Works And What To Expect During A Treatment
Reflexology works through direct stimulation of the reflexes on the feet (and sometimes the hands). While massaging your feet or hands, your therapist will use a gentle pressure through their thumb and finger as well as hand techniques to promote your energy to flow correctly and restore the natural function and balance to related areas of the body.
Reflexology evokes a deep state of relaxation whilst the body’s own healing process is being stimulated.
During your first treatment a detailed consultation will be taken by your practitioner to determine any present and past health issues.
This will be followed by a reflexology treatment which will last approximately one hour. You will not be expected to remove any clothing apart from your shoes and socks, and you will lie on a comfortable treatment couch with supportive pillows for your session.
Your practitioner will look at your feet noting presentations such as skin colour or areas of hard skin to gain a better insight to the efficiency of your circulation and areas of tension. They will then use their hands to apply pressure to the feet where the application and effect will be unique depending on your particular constitution. During the treatment, your practitioner will pick up subtle changes beneath their fingertips over specific points in the feet and work over them accordingly.
After treatment, most people report of feeling a definite sense of relaxation and well-being. Occasionally people have been noted to feel lethargic, tearful or have a dull headache but this is transitory and an indication that your body’s healing mechanism has been stimulated.
What Does Reflexology Treat?
Reflexology can be viewed as a compliment to conventional Western medicine. Reflexology does not claim to be a ‘cure all’ and is not an alternative to conventional medical treatment. Every session of reflexology works on an individual basis and results vary due to the varying nature of individual constitutions. However, many disorders seem to respond well to this natural therapy.
Often patients will experience a deep state of relaxation during and after treatment and report feeling less stressed and more able to cope with their day-to-day responsibilities. Indeed, reflexology’s power lies in its ability to relieve stress because stress is often the cause or by-product of many illnesses.
It has been suggested that the feet and hands are a mirror of the tension levels for the rest of the body. When reflexology is applied it has the effect of interrupting the stress signals and helping the body reset and return to a state of health and equilibrium.
Studies have also shown reflexology to beneficially impact on a variety of other physical and psychological concerns. Examples are listed below:
Benefits mental health and reduces depression and anxiety.
Promotes natural and refreshing sleep.
Reduces muscular tension as the body relaxes.
Accelerates healing and aids circulatory problems by promoting blood flow around the body.
Helps move build-up of lymphatic fluid.
Eases pregnancy symptoms
Reduces aggression and hyperactivity.
Eases the side effects of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.
The wonderful thing about reflexology is that it is a non-invasive holistic therapy, treating the body as a whole. A series of treatments can beneficially impact on patients of all ages and health stages right across the spectrum. Often, after completing a course of reflexology treatments, many patients choose to continue with regular sessions in order to maintain their health and feeling of well-being.
Before You Come For Reflexology Treatment
It is helpful to wear loose, comfortable clothing to your treatment. Loose trousers in particular are helpful so that they can be rolled up without restricting the circulation in the lower half of your body. It is advisable to have a small snack an hour or so before you attend your treatment so your blood sugar levels are stable.