Reflexology has evolved over the years and has been practiced by many cultures. What began as Zone Therapy in Europe was brought to America by a Dr. Fitzgerald in the early 1900's. Dr. Fitzgerald noticed that when he applied finger pressure to specific points on the hands or feet he could alleviate certain symptoms throughout the body. Eunice Ingham a physio therapist later used Dr. Fitzgerald's work as the foundation for the organ mapping of the feet. Eunice Ingham's work has lead to what we now know as reflexology.
Reflexology is the art or science that believes there are reflex areas in our feet, hands and ears that correspond to every part of our body, including our organs and glands. When you stimulate the reflex areas in the feet, by applying pressure with your fingers, thumbs and hands, you directly affect the corresponding areas, glands or organs of the body. Remember when you are working with your right foot or hand you are working the right side of the body and when you are working with your left foot or hand you are working the left side of the body.
This applied pressure also affects the energy flow of the body and can be used to release energy blockages throughout the body. Inhibiting the flow of energy in the body can lead to pain and disease. Reflexology and accupressure are similar in the fact that they both work with the energy flow of the body and they both use points or areas on one part of the body to affect points or areas located in other parts of the body. Can you believe that there are actually 7,200 nerve endings in one foot and reflexologists utilize these nerve endings to benefit the whole body. The opening up of the body's energy flow through Relfexology or Zone Therapy works with the body's own intelligence, allowing the body to begin its healing process and progress at the body's own pace.
Main Benefits of Reflexology
- Helps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- Promotes Relaxation
- Helps to Relieve or Reduce Migraine and Tension Headaches
- Helps to Reduce Pain as well as Fibromyalgia Pain
- Helps in Treating Back Pain
- Helps in Relieving Constipation
- Improves Circulation
- Compliments Cancer care
Reflexology is used to compliment many other treatments and is also used as preventative measures. Individuals working with anxiety, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, headaches, kidney function, PMS, and sinusitis have benefited from reflexology. Several studies have been done on various benefits of Reflexology.
- One study showed improvement in circulation or blood flow at the point of pressure in the foot as well as its corresponding organ zone in the back.
- Another study was done showing benefits on reducing high blood pressure when a specific area of the foot corresponsing to the cortex, thoracic, and kidney was massaged as compared to a general reflexology foot massage.
- Another study was done to determine the effect reflexology would have on diabetic neuropathy. The conclusion of that study showed reflexology, along with medication therapy may help in reducing neuropathic pain and improve overall quality of life.
Some people feel reflexology is a form of massage, but it isn't. Massage involves rubbing the muscles and connective tissues for medical or therapeutic purposes to enhance the function of the tissues being massaged. Reflexology, although it feels good when pressure is applied to your feet, its purpose is to treat an entirely different area outside of the feet throughout the body.
Reflexology works great even when you do it for yourself or a family member. You don't even need to use your own hands. You can purchase a foot roller, a hand held massager, or a machine like the Advanced ERE which not only offers a reflexology foot massage, it uses electrical stimulation to do it! So many benefits, so simple to do! So next time the ball of your foot hurts, give one of these self techniques a try and feel the benefits!I don't know about you, but I love to have my feet rubbed!Written by Mara Gerke, CA, CNHP, All Rights Reserved.