The origins of Reflexology evidently reach back to ancient Egypt as evidenced by inscriptions found in the physician’s tomb at Saqqara in Egypt. The translation of the hieroglyphics are as follows: “Don’t hurt me.” The practitioner’s reply:- ” I shall act so you praise me. ” We cannot determine the exact relationship between the ancient art as practiced by the early Egyptians and Reflexology as we know it today. Different forms of working the feet to effect health have been used all over the ancient world. A Dr. Riley maintained that this form of healing spread from Egypt via the Roman Empire.
Reflexology, although it’s often combined with massage, is technically not a form of massage. It’s a separate practice that applies pressure to reflex zones on your feet, hands or outer ears to affect your entire body.
So what is reflexology? Reflexology is a treatment where the therapist works on reflex points on your feet, hands, and ears that are thought to relate to specific organs and glands in the body.
When done by a skilled practitioner, reflexology is a deeply relaxing treatment with benefits that can be felt throughout the body. The therapist will use various techniques that include holds, finger pressure, kneading, rotation and rubbing.
The Effect of Reflexology Should Be Felt Throughout the Body
The best therapists also include hands and feet as part of the reflexology treatment, and you should feel an effect through the entire body. If the therapist is less skilled or inadequately trained, you’ll just feel like you’ve had a very long foot massage.
There is evidence that people were practicing some form of hand and foot therapy 4,000 years ago in China and Egypt. The modern rediscovery of some kind of systematized foot therapy is attributed to Dr William Fitzgerald, who called it “Zone Therapy.” His ideas came to the attention of the public in a 1915 article, “To Stop That Toothache, Squeeze Your Toe,” published in Everybody’s Magazine.
His work was extended by Eunice Ingham, known as the “pioneer of modern reflexology.” She painstakingly mapped the feet with all the corresponding organs and glands of the body. Ingham devised a system of techniques which enable the practitioner to contact the reflexes in the most effective and economic way.
This system is known as the “Original Ingham Method” and though this method has been refined still further, her legacy is still the foundation of modern reflexology.
What You Need To Know About Reflexology
- Reflexology can be a good treatment choice for people who want to keep their clothes on during a massage. It is also a good choice if you are pressed for time and don’t want to get oil on your body or in your hair.
- You should ask what kind of specific training or certification the therapist has in reflexology. Any massage therapist who are licensed to work on the body, can legally give you “reflexology” even though they’ve had minimal training. It’s better to get reflexology from someone who has been though a specific reflexology training and certification program.
- Reflexology was first developed in the United States in the early 20th century, and was called “zonal therapy” in its earliest incarnations. It is based on the theory that the body is divided into ten zones running longitudinally from head to toe — five on each side of the body. Practitioners believe that pressure on reflex points on the foot or hand will affect body organs in the same zone.
- In recent years, reflexology practitioners have begun to incorporate the acupressure techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) into their work. Although reflexology is based on the theory of “zones” instead of T.C.M.’s theory of “meridians” or energy pathways, both treatments are based on the principle that working on specific points can bring about a therapeutic effect in other parts of the body.
Benefits Of Reflexology:
- increased immunity
- improved energy
- eased stress and anxiety
- pain relief
- circulation stimulation
- reduced blood pressure
- congestion relief
- internal organ stimulation
Health Benefits of a Foot Reflexology Massage
Reflexology is not a diagnostic or curative procedure. Instead, it is used to complement a variety of health conditions. After one or two foot reflexology sessions you will begin to notice results. That being said, one session per week for four to five straight weeks is the general recommendation. At the end of the sessions the reflexologist will assess the client’s improvement. Reflexology is a lot more than a foot massage. Besides relaxation, there are a number of health benefits of a foot reflexology massage:
1. Cancer: There are a number of studies that show how reflexology can help reduce cancer treatment symptoms, including nausea, pain, constipation or diarrhea. In a study published in the journal Nursing Standard in 2000, researchers found that reflexology can benefit patients during the palliative care stage of cancer. Also, a study published in the Oncology Nursing Forum in 2000 found that reflexology could significantly reduce anxiety in breast and lung cancer patients.
2. Arthritis: Foot reflexology benefits have also been used for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In the U.S., osteoarthritis affects over 50 million people, and it is more common than rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies suggest that reflexology can reduce the pain associated with arthritis. In a study published in the Journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2013, researchers from the University of Portsmouth found that reflexology may be as effective as painkillers for osteoarthritis. The patients had felt approximately 40% less pain.
3. Hypertension: Reflexology has been found to reduce hypertension—a common risk of heart disease. In a Korean study from 2004, researchers found that a foot reflexology massage could effectively reduce systolic blood pressure. For the study, 34 participants were either assigned to the reflexology group or the control group. Reflexology was performed twice weekly for a six-week period.
4. Type 2 diabetes: Diabetes is a serious health issue that produces high blood sugar levels. In a recent systematic review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers concluded that self-administered foot reflexology might have a positive effect in type 2 diabetics.
5. Migraine and tension headaches: Foot reflexology massage can also effectively reduce tension and migraine headaches. A blind, randomized trial from 2000 found that a foot reflexology massage was as effective as a drug called flunarizine, which is used to prevent migraine headaches. The study examined 32 headache patients after a foot reflexology massage session, and again after a three-month follow-up.
6. Anxiety and depression: Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems. The relaxation benefits of reflexology tend to extend beyond massages. For example, a 2002 study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that a foot massage and reflexology could decrease depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women.
7. Multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a progressive and chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. A small study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research in the spring of 2015 found that reflexology decreases fatigue in women with multiple sclerosis. Other evidence suggests that reflexology may reduce the tingling associated with multiple sclerosis.
8. Sinusitis: Sinusitis is a chronic or acute condition often caused by another respiratory infection like the flu, a cold, or bronchitis. In a randomized, controlled study presented at the 2002 American Academy of Otolaryngology, researchers found that reflexology and nasal irrigation procedures improved chronic sinusitis in 150 patients.
9. Circulation: Foot reflexology massage is also known to improve blood circulation in the feet and throughout the body. Gently stroking the feet, fingers, and hands will significantly improve blood flow to the vital organs. Blood will deliver nutrients and oxygen to your organs, thereby nourishing your body tissues. A foot reflexology massage before bed can improve circulation in the lower extremities.
10. Eliminates toxins: Toxins are everywhere these days from processed foods to cosmetics. That is why it is important to have a healthy urinary system. Reflexology has effectively reduced urinary tract issues and improved bladder function. Basically, reflexology can efficiently eliminate toxins from the body and protect the body from various conditions that result from an impaired urinary system.
Foot reflexology massage can also help treat symptoms of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), kidney stones, constipation, backaches and restless leg syndrome. The therapy can also improve memory, manage diabetic neuropathy and ease symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
More evidence for
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to scope of practice, medical diagnosis or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company or specific massage therapy technique, modality or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.