Our feet are a micro-cosmos of our bodies and contain connections to all the body’s systems and internal organs.
Reflexology is a system of treatment that works on the principle that specific areas of the feet and/or hands (reflex points) correspond to all the organs, glands and structures of the body. By applying pressure through the use of specific techniques, reflexology stimulates these reflex points and improves the blood lymph and nerve circulation. This, in turn, can assist to bring about healthy changes in the corresponding areas of the body, restoring and maintaining the body’s natural equilibrium.
The philosophy behind reflexology is that life force (referred to as Prana in Sanskrit, Chi in Chinese and Ki in Japanese) circulates throughout the body in a balanced, rhythmic mode. When this energy is interrupted due to an injury for example, signals within the body are transmitted down energy lines to the feet. There, they manifest as tiny grainy, sand-like nodules in the reflex areas of the feet that correlate to the area of the body where the injury is present. Reflexology aims to break down these nodules that disrupt the flow of energy, in order to restore balance to the body.
Reflexology has an admirable history. There is evidence that it has been used in China and India for over 5000 years. Native American tribes were also knowledgable of the relationship between reflex points and the internal organs of the body and used this theory to treat disease. Since the 1870s, reflexology has been steadily integrated in conventional Western medicine as a complementary practice. In the UK, it is now being used in hospitals and clinics within the NHS.
This gentle therapy can help reduce physical pain caused by poor posture, overexertion or injury. It has also been shown to be effective and bring relief to those suffering from a wide range of acute and chronic conditions such as:
- Infertility (men and women)
- Gynecological conditions (premenstrual syndrome (PMS), heavy/painful/irregular periods, endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, etc.)
- Sleep disorders
- Sports injuries
- Hormonal imbalances
- Digestive disorders (irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, acid reflux, etc.)
- Respiratory problems (asthma, allergies, sinusitis, etc.)
- Musculoskeletal conditions (back pain, neck strain, frozen shoulder, muscle tension, etc.)
- Stress-related conditions
As well as helping with particular ailments in the long-term, reflexology can be used as a way to relax the mind and body, relieving stress and tension and restoring vitality.
Reflexology can improve quality of life and can help people find the appropriate way of healing themselves. Patients often expect that they will become healthy in a short period of time. However, it is important to note that reflexology does not have the same effect of a painkiller pill; relieving the symptoms does not happen overnight, it takes time before the body can release and expel all the toxins that have been accumulated for a long time.
It is also important for reflexologists to consider and identify the different damaging patterns that might be proving an obstacle to someone’s healing and wellbeing such as bad posture, improper dietary habits, lack of sufficient water intake, inadequate rest, negative attitudes towards oneself and others, not listening to one’s body etc. Mental and emotional wellbeing, lifestyle, diet and environment are determining factors towards being healthy and should be looked into during a treatment. Patient education is also an important factor of success for any treatment and some lifestyle alterations might be suggested to maintain wellbeing. Reflexology aims to encourage people to correct any damaging factors, addressing in this way the root of the symptoms and not only the symptoms themselves.
Furthermore, sufferers from painful chronic or terminal diseases often find that reflexology can be a pleasant palliative for their suffering which can improve their quality of life and can help them regain their love of their body.
Reflexology is a serious advancement in the health field and should not be confused with massage. Reflexologists do not diagnose any specific medical disorder but aim to work alongside allopathic healthcare to promote better health for their clients, in a natural way. Many doctors, consultants and other health care professionals recognise reflexology as a well established, respected and effective therapy.
Reflexology is suitable for all ages, from babies to the elderly, pregnant women and those undergoing chemotherapy. A treatment session usually lasts about one hour. A course of treatments may be recommended depending on the body’s needs.