The word ‘Reflexology’ is familiar to most people these days; often they simply know that it has something to do with massaging the feet and that it is very relaxing. But what is really behind this ancient therapy? Is it more than simply ‘a foot massage’?
There is in fact a lot more to Reflexology than just the massaging of the feet for relaxation purposes. Through ancient healing techniques, a Reflexologist can:
- Pinpoint imbalances in certain parts of the body
- Assist the body in clearing toxins from the organs and systems
- Balance the hormonal system
- Influence digestion and elimination
But how is this possible you may ask? It is possible because our feet are not just vehicles for transportation; they actually map the body as seen in the diagram below:
All the organs and parts of the human body are represented in different areas on the feet. The diagram above shows the soles of the feet but there are also reflexes, or trigger points, on the tops and sides as well. In addition, reflex points can be found on the hands (below) and ears.
So, when a Reflexologist performs a treatment on the feet or hands, they are working specifically on the reflexes found in the charts above in a particular order and using specific techniques such as:
- Finger walking along energy zones or reflexes
- Pinching parts of the skin to stimulate activity
- Rubbing or smoothing along skin to help eliminate toxins
- Massaging areas to increase activity
- Balancing reflexes to calm overactivity
- Holding pressure points to balance different areas
Although it is unclear as to exactly how these techniques can influence the function of the body, several theories have been put forward to try and explain the mechanisms behind Reflexology including:
- Stimulation of the reflexes releases energy blockages and increases the flow of vital energy, thereby promoting healing.
- Massaging techniques break up patterns of stress in parts of the body by sending signals to the nervous system which are then processed in the brain and relayed to the internal organs so adjustments can be made to restore the body’s optimal function.
- Crystalline structures that have been deposited in the reflexes are broken down through massage and stimulation
- By working on the feet, balancing of the entire system occurs due to activation of invisible energy ‘zones’ which run all the way down the body.
Regardless of how Reflexology works, it has been around for many thousands of years. Believe it or not, it was being practised on hands and feet in many ancient cultures – notably Egyptian, Indian and Chinese – as long as 5000 years ago to relieve pain and promote healing. There is a wall painting in the tomb of the highest official after the Pharaoh – Ankhmahor, in Egypt near Cairo dating back to 2330BC which contains what looks to be a representation of an early version of reflexology (see below).
Reflexology, as it is practised today in the West, developed from the work of Dr W Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat surgeon working in the early part of the 20th century. There are many different techniques in use today including Vertical Reflexology, Colour Reflexology, Zone Therapy and Sound Reflexology.
Some of the possible positive effects of Reflexology include:
- Reducing stress and aiding relaxation
- Relieving aches and pains
- Improving circulation
- Cleansing the body of impurities
- Revitalising and rebalancing
The form of reflexology that I use at Magenta Therapy involves a light to moderate touch and a great deal of intuitive work, by which I mean that ‘tuning in’ to the client and their body, being drawn to imbalanced areas and sensing how much work is needed on those areas. Like all practitioners I follow a set routine which covers all the organs and systems of the body in a logical order. However, within this framework there is scope for the individual to work in their own way.
Prior to a first treatment, I always go through a consultation form and discuss background, lifestyle, current medical conditions, concerns and expectations with a client. I also observe their general state of health and any emotional and spiritual blockages that are apparent.
One of the advantages of Reflexology is that it can be performed on virtually anyone; the elderly, children, pregnant women (with caution) those with physical and mental disabilities and those who are bed-ridden. Even pets can be treated; there are charts showing reflex points for dogs and cats in circulation.
Reflexology cannot cure or diagnose medical problems and, as with all complementary therapies, a doctor should be consulted if someone is at all worried about a condition or set of symptoms. However, many doctors’ surgeries are now recognising the benefits of Reflexology and welcoming therapists into their practice or referring patients to them.
© Marie Long 2017