Reflexology is an ancient therapy of focused foot massage originating in China over 5000 years ago. Reflexology focuses on those parts of the feet and hands representing weakened parts of the body. Some teaching methods call these “zones”. Zone therapy was introduced by Dr. William H. Fitzgerald in 1915. Eunice Ingham took this concept further in the 1930’s, developing the Ingham Reflex Method of Compression Massage. Books on her method of reflexology are still very popular today. Eunice believed that all parts of the body could be helped by pressing certain reflex points on the feet. She mapped out these reflex points and developed specific techniques for stimulating them.
Reflexology works with subtle energy flows, revitalizing the body so that the natural internal healing mechanisms of the body can respond and do their work more effectively. Early Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Russians and Egyptians worked on the feet to promote good health by using pressing, shaking, rocking, stretching, slapping, chopping, punching, rotating, and massage techniques on the feet. Today this technique is used in pain clinics, cancer centers, pediatric wards, cardiac wards, and on people with brain injuries. Emotional problems, stress-related disorders, headaches, constipation, IBS, and tension also respond very well to reflexology.
As you study this healing modality you will see that some of the charts don’t match up perfectly to each other, but this doesn’t matter. What matters is that you pay attention to the tender points of the feet and massage them gently and consistently until those tender points go away. Many practitioners use talk or non-greasy cream to rub onto the feet during a treatment, but I use a light massage oil–especially if the feet are dry.
The greater the tenderness of the point, the greater the imbalance in that associated organ of the body. Hard skin, corns, bunions, and infections can all be interpreted by the reflexologist as external manifestations of problems in the corresponding zone or area of the body. These tender areas should receive extra attention and time. An adept practitioner will watch for any reactions of pain or tenderness and vary the pressure accordingly.
Reflexologists believe that granular accumulations of waste matter called uric acid crystals concentrate around reflex points. With some training, you can feel these accumulations. The goal is to break these accumulations down in order to open energy pathways to improve the blood supply to the reflex organs. Reflexology work also opens blocked nerve pathways and helps to flush toxins out of the body.
Since there are over 7,200 nerve endings in each foot, the feet are one of the best body parts to do reflexology on because they are the most sensitive and the most responsive. Alternating pressure on the various points has therapeutic effects. Reflexology is both a science and an art. It takes time for the practitioner to tune into each person’s body to feel the tiny spicules of calcium that build up in the reflex areas. Many practitioners also get hints about your medical history as you visit. This information can help them in being more attentive to those underlying organs that may be at the core cause of illness.
Reflexology yields the best results when it is done with dedication, patience, focused intention and loving care. This is not a technique to be rushed.
A mentor once taught me that those people who are extremely ticklish on their feet have a tendency toward diabetes. If you encounter a person like this, try starting with a foot massage machine until the ticklish feeling goes away. After this is accomplished, use your hands, but use heavier touch and pressure and not so much light touch and stoking. One of the goals to accomplish in a reflexology treatment to get the patient to relax and they can’t do that trying to pull their ticklish foot back from your touch.
Benefits of Reflexology
- Helps with relaxation and stress reduction
- Improves circulation and oxygenation
- Helps the body take up more nutrients
- Helps in the detoxification processes removing toxins and impurities
- Helps improve lymphatic flow so stimulated the immune system
- Revitalizes and energizes the body
- Allows us to give the gift of human touch that so many of us are lacking these days
- Stimulates creativity and productivity by restoring mental alertness
- It is also very rewarding and energizing to the practitioner as well
Reflexology Points: The Law of Correspondence:
The inside curves of the foot correspond to the curves of the spine with the toe being the top of the spine and the back of the heal corresponding to the sacrum. When the back of the heel is worn down on a person’s shoe, this is an indication that they might have sciatic pain.
The tips of each toe represent the head area- specifically the brain.
The big toe represents the brain and all the glands the head contains. Sometimes when women wear high heels, they squish the toes which, in turn, decreases the blood flow to the head and gives the person a headache.
The second and third toes correspond to the ears, eyes, and sinuses.
The balls of the feet correspond to the chest and lungs. The heart rests in the center between the balls of the feet.
The arch of the foot corresponds to the internal organs.
The kidney (very center of the foot) and bladder points (just before the heel and on the inside edge of the foot) are more centrally located. This is often a tender area. Be gently and vary the pressure and technique until the patient can handle your touch and relax into it. Many people protect this area by walking on the outside heel.
The intestines surround the kidney and bladder and comprise most the arch.
The beginning of the heal corresponds to the upper part of the pelvic area.
The inner line of the foot from toe to heel corresponds to the spine.
The outer line of the foot from little toe to heel corresponds to the arm, shoulder, hip leg, knee, and lower back.
The ankle corresponds to the pelvic and reproductive organs.
The Achilles’ tendon corresponds to the female reproductive organs or prostate. Massage this from the foot towards the heart to guide the blood and lymph back to the heart.
Avoid reflexology in the first three months of pregnancy.
Tell your practitioner what medications you are on. Because the body will detoxify faster, certain medications may not work as well because they are being carried out of the system faster.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long does a treatment session last? About 30-60 minutes.
How many treatments will I need? That depends on your problem. Also, some people respond more quickly than others. In general, several sessions are required, usually on a weekly basis, to see the benefits of reflexology.
Will there be any after effects? Sometimes the patient will have what is called a Healing Crisis. This may occur as the body’s natural healing mechanisms remove accumulated or stagnated toxins from the body.
How much does a treatment cost? This will vary, but usually $30-$55/treatment.
Can I do a treatment on myself? It’s better to have someone else do reflexology on you, but I also recommend using a couple of golf balls for self-treatments. Place a ball under each foot and roll the ball until you find a tender spot. Now continue to press and rotate the ball until the tenderness goes away. Afterwards, you should soak your feet in hot water for 10 minutes.
- Book: Stories the Feet Can Tell Thru Reflexology/Stories the Feet Have Told Thru Reflexology by Eunice D. Ingham.
- Book: Feet First: A Guide to Foot Reflexology by Laura Norman
- The Healing Crisis: http://naturalhealthtechniques.com/BasicsofHealth/healing_crisis_process.htm
- Lots of cool reflexology foot charts: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=reflexolyg+foot+chart&id=8FFBA61E062D69F48EEE003334BE8D5E222EFE66&FORM=IGRE1