Reflexology is an alternative medical practice that focuses on the application of pressure to particular areas on the feet or hands. The technique, also known as zone therapy, has been around for thousands of years. In fact, it was first recorded as a pictograph on the Egyptian tomb of Ankhamor in 2330 BC. The basis of the treatment is that pressure points on the feet and hands correlate to other body parts and organs. For instance, a very specific spot in the arch of the foot corresponds to the bladder. When those particular spots are gently pressed or massaged, the corresponding body part feels relief or begins to heal. The practice is similar to acupuncture, but only includes the extremities instead of the entire body.
Reflexologists utilize detailed reflex maps to help guide them as they apply the pressure to the hands and feet. Each spot is connected to an energy channel, activated through the pressure. Trained experts know exactly the amount of pressure to apply and for how long to trigger a response. Although reflexologists use their hands to perform the treatment, reflexology is not a form of massage. Reflexology is complementary to medical treatments, but not an alternative to medical care. It does not claim to diagnose or cure any conditions. The treatments are commonly done alongside traditional care. If you’re looking for something to activate your body’s natural healing abilities and boost your overall wellness, reflexology is definitely worth trying. There are numerous health benefits believed to be associated with the treatments.
Benefits of Reflexology
Reflexology may help decrease your stress level, help you feel more relaxed and increase your energy levels. If you have a medical condition, the decrease in your stress level as a result can be even more beneficial. Less stress can lead to less pain and discomfort. Researchers studying the psychological benefits of reflexology found the treatment boosts feelings of well-being and makes it easier for people to manage their medical conditions, especially chronic conditions.
It’s even possible to lose weight through reflexology. Activating the pressure points linked to the digestive system and spleen help aid in your weight loss. However, you’ll need to be eating right and exercising to see the benefits of reflexology when it comes to the scale.
Some experts believe stimulating the nervous and vascular systems through reflexology can help halt the aging process. Although traditional reflexology is done on the hands and feet, reflexology on the face is said to stimulate blood flow, thus improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
What Does Reflexology Treat?
Millions of people around the globe use reflexology to help address anxiety, asthma, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, migraines, etc. It’s also used in conjunction with other treatments for cancer patients. Reflexology is known to boost the immune system, increase circulation, release toxins from the body and increase your energy. Certain pressure points can improve balance in the nervous system. Other pressure points can release endorphins, which are the hormones that help us feel good. Reflexology is great for those who suffer from:
- Tension headaches
- Hormonal imbalances
- Digestive issues
- Back pain
- Multiple sclerosis
Studies on Reflexology
Research findings from studies around the world show the benefits of reflexology. fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) readings have shown an increase in blood flow to kidneys and to the intestines when studying reflexology in dialysis patients. Hong Kong researchers revealed an fMRI showed the inner lateral corner of the left large toe activated the right temporal lobe. Through EEG measurements of alpha and theta waves, medical experts concluded reflexology resulted in a decrease in blood pressure and anxiety. More than two dozen various studies proved reflexology had a positive outcome on pain reduction when used for chest pain, peripheral neuropathy, kidney stones and osteoarthritis.
What to Expect at a Session
When new to reflexology, it’s natural to wonder what you can expect. While the treatment and procedures vary from practice to practice, the initial visit is generally routine. Typically, the reflexologist will conduct a brief health history analysis to determine if reflexology is the best choice of therapy for you. They’ll explain how reflexology works and what you can expect during the session. You should be informed that reflexology doesn’t treat specific illnesses and is not a substitute for medical treatment, just to ensure you’re aware. You may be asked to sign a consent form for treatment before the procedure. Beforehand, you’re welcomed and encouraged to ask questions. It’s important you feel comfortable communicating with the reflexologist.
A reflexology session lasts about 30 minutes to an hour. Most patients find five to six treatments are very beneficial. Session plans vary from person to person.
It’s always a good idea to consult with your primary care physician if you do have bothersome or chronic health conditions, concerns or illnesses before receiving any type of new treatment, even a safe, non-invasive treatment like reflexology.