Reflexology is a kind of massage therapy that has its focus mainly on the feet and hands. In the practice of reflexology, pressure is applied to certain points on the feet and hands using primarily the thumbs and fingers. There is no use of any oil, cream or lotion in this therapy. It is based on the principle that certain points or zones on the hands and feet are directly linked to certain other parts of the body or vital organs, and that stimulating these points can lead to a beneficial effect on the organs connected to these points and a general feeling of well-being.
How does reflexology work?
The principle behind the reflexology technique is that there are certain ‘reflex’ areas on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. For example:
- The tips of the toes correspond to the head
- The heart and chest correspond to the balls of the feet
- The liver, pancreas and kidney are linked to the arch of the feet
- The heel reflects the lower back and intestines
Those who practice the technique believe that gently stimulating these ‘reflex’ zones has a beneficial effect on its corresponding organ and promotes the well being of these organs through energetic pathways.
Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, an ENT specialist, introduced this concept of reflexology in 1915, while American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram developed it further in the 1930’s to form the crux of the practice as it is known today.
The scientific explanation behind this pressure technique is that it sends signals that balance the nervous system, and releases chemicals like endorphins which reduce pain and stress.
What does it feel like?
A majority of people who undergo reflexology find it to be very relaxing, much like a massage. The main thing to remember is that it should not cause any pain, and the moment you feel a painful sensation you should inform the person who is administering you the treatment. The practitioner is supposed to work within your comfort zone. There is no need to worry if you are excessively ticklish, as the reflexologist will apply firm pressure which will not tickle your feet.
Conditions in which you can opt for reflexology
- Stress and stress-related conditions
- Tension headaches
- Digestive disorders
- Hormonal imbalances
- Sports injuries
- Menstrual disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Digestive problems, such as constipation
- Back pain
Reflexology is a popular form of alternative healing. It promotes relaxation, improves blood circulation, mitigates pain, soothes tired feet and general fatigue, and overall healing. It is a complimentary technique and not a substitute for medical treatment.
Precautions to be taken
- If you’re pregnant, don’t go for a reflexology session without consulting your doctor first.
- Make sure that you give the reflexologist your complete and accurate health history.
- If you have ulcers in the feet, some injury, or a blood vessel disease like a blood clot in the feet, consult your doctor before going for a session of reflexology.