Reflexology is a non-intrusive complementary health therapy, based on the theory that different points on the feet correspond with different areas of the body. Reflexologists work holistically with their clients and aim to work alongside allopathic healthcare to promote better health for their clients
Will reflexology help me?
Well trained reflexologists do not claim to cure, diagnose or prescribe. Reflexology is a very individual treatment which is tailored to you as a whole person, taking into account both physical and non-physical factors that might be affecting your wellbeing. Some people find it works for them - some don't. The best way to find out is to try it!
The theory is that reflexology helps the body to restore its balance naturally. Usually, after a treatment your tension may be reduced and you might feel relaxed. You might also notice yourself sleeping better and find your mood and sense of wellbeing improving. You may also find that other aspects improve too; however, this happens on an individual basis.
There have been some positive research projects carried out with reflexology; however, as yet, there is not a large enough body of evidence for us to make clinical claims of effectiveness.
With ever increasing levels of stress in everyday life, it is important for people to take more responsibility for their own healthcare needs. Reflexology may be one of the ways to mitigate the stresses of modern life.
How will I feel after a reflexology treatment?
It is useful to give feedback to the reflexologist as this may show the response of your body to treatment. This in turn might help the reflexologist to tailor a treatment plan specific to your needs.
After one or two treatments your body may respond in a very noticeable way.
Most people note a sense of well-being and relaxation; however, sometimes people report feeling lethargic, nauseous or tearful, but this is usually transitory and reflexologists believe that it is part of the healing process.
A brief history of reflexology
Whilst the art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, this therapy was not introduced to the West until Dr William Fitzgerald developed 'Zone therapy'. He believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.
In the 1930's, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is known as reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.
Benefits of Reflexology
The health benefits of reflexology include its ability to improve the nerve functions, raise energy levels, increase circulation, and much more.
Improved Nerve Function
As we age, our nerve endings become less sensitive in many parts of our body, particularly in our extremities. That being said, reflexology has been connected with stimulating more than 7,000 different nerve endings in a single session, thereby increasing their function and reactivity. Opening and cleaning out neural pathways can help to improve functionality and flexibility in many areas around the body. Neural pathways are like muscles, so it is good to work them once in a while to keep them sharp!
Boosted Energy Levels
By aligning the functioning of various organ and muscle systems, reflexology can increase metabolism and energy creation processes within the body. If you need a boost of energy or are always feeling sluggish, perhaps a reflexology session can help put some pep back in your step!
One of the most well-known and verified benefits of reflexology is an improvement in circulation throughout the body, which means that blood and oxygen are being cycled through the body more effectively. This means more oxygen reaches vital organ systems, thereby optimizing their functioning and further increasing the metabolism. This also results in faster healing and re-growth of damaged cells.
As mentioned above, reflexology has been known to open neural pathways, and this sort of free-flowing neural activity results in a more relaxed state in the body. For this reason, reflexology can flood your system with relaxation, inducing a state of calmness throughout your body and mind. In this same vein, reflexology is commonly used to cure sleep disorders. Insomnia can be a very troubling condition to suffer through, but reflexology helps your body relax and get back to its normal, healthy Circadian rhythms.
Elimination of Toxins
Reflexology has been shown to improve bladder function and to reduce urinary tract issues. What this means in terms of toxicity is a more efficient system of eliminating toxins and other foreign substances, thereby protecting your body from the various diseases and health conditions that can often arise from a compromised urinary system.
Nervous System Stimulation
The open neural pathways can benefit our central nervous system in a variety of ways. It not only enhances the brain’s ability to handle inputs more effectively, thereby speeding up our cognitive powers, but also boosts memory.
Reduction in Headaches
Reflexology is primarily used by many people as a method of eliminating pain. As an analgesic treatment, reflexology can reduce the severity of a migraine and headache, simply by relieving tension in the muscles that can often result in these conditions. A headache induced by stress can also be eliminated since stress and psychological factors often manifest in the physical symptoms of a migraine. This is actually one of the most popular applications of reflexology.
The combination of increased nerve activity and circulation, as well as the balanced functioning of the metabolism, means that cells re-grow faster and wounds are able to heal quickly. Also, the pain-relieving qualities of reflexology mean that patients recover rapidly, and are willing to get back into routine life!
Although reflexology isn’t directly connected to curing cancer, it has been known to ease the side effects of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. It helps cancer patients get a sound sleep by reducing anxiety and also reduces the chances of vomiting or other commonly experienced indigestion issues. The more general effects of reflexology, such as clearing neural channels and increasing circulation, can help to slow the spread of cancer and can stimulate antioxidant activity to destroy cancer cells.
Studies have shown that reflexology can be very beneficial for pregnant women, particularly in terms of labour lengths and their need for analgesics during labour and postpartum recovery time. Beyond that, due to many of the health benefits already outlined above, it can reduce the chances of postpartum depression and can also help a woman’s body heal itself faster and get back to its normal metabolic activity quickly.
Although much of the research on reflexology has been criticized or cited as unprovable, thousands of years of tradition and reports of success speak rather loudly. That being said, reflexology should be considered as a supplemental treatment to formal medical advice and treatment for the more serious conditions that have been touched on in this article.