About Reflexology

Reflexology is a profound Healing Art and Science!

Practiced in diverse cultures for centuries, Reflexology is a method of touch therapy and a universally acclaimed healing art and science. For preventative care or in response to physical or emotional distress, a Reflexology session acts as a catalyst to aid the body toward its own natural healing process.

Researchers believe that Reflexology is well over 5,500 years old. The first record of Reflexology is found in an Egyptian physician’s tomb, which dates back to 2330 BC. Traces of ‘foot work” also appear in other cultures such as China, India and early European going back thousands of years, indicating no one culture invented it. A carving of “The Foot of Vishnu” (a Hindu God) shows symbols on the bottom of the feet. Although the actual meaning of these symbols is unknown, their placement corresponds too closely with today’s knowledge of specific reflex areas and corresponding organs and glands of the body to be merely a coincidence.

Today’s methods are based on the work of Dr. William Fitzgerald an American ear, nose and throat surgeon, who studied the art of “pressure therapy in Europe and pioneered “Zone Therapy” in the USA. He noted that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an anaesthetizing effect on a related area. Developing this theory, he divided the body into ten equal and vertical zones, ending in the fingers and toes. He concluded that pressure on one part of a zone could affect everything else within that zone. Thus, reflex areas on the feet and hands are linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone. A colleague of Pavlov, V. M. Bechterev coined the term “Reflexology” in 1917.

In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham, a therapist, further developed and refined the zone therapy into what is now known as Foot Reflexology. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot mirrors congestion or tension in a corresponding part of the body. The points on the foot represent reflex areas that correspond to parts of the body. The feet can be seen as a map of the body with the right foot representing the right hand side of the body and the left foot the left side. Reflex areas are found on the soles, the top and sides of the feet. The skilled application of pressure to specific points on the feet by a trained Reflexologist can restore balance to the body, consequently improving overall function and the body’s ability to effectively respond to illness and stress.

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How Does Reflexology Work?

Reflexology is based on the premise that there are reflex points in the hands, feet and ears corresponding via nerve pathways of the nervous system (Western Medicine) and/or meridians (Eastern Medicine) to every part, organ and gland of the body. According to the American Journal of Medicine, stress is known to cause over 80% of all illnesses. Reflexology reduces stress automatically during a session, which causes chemical changes to occur at the cellular level throughout the body. Through systematic pressure and stimulation of these reflexes, the body is assisted to return to natural functioning. In the process endorphins (natural pain-killers) are released, para-sympathetic relaxation of the nervous system takes place, increased blood and lymphatic circulation results in a rise in oxygen and immune levels all of which helps to restore balance to all the systems of the body.

By Linda Hughan,
CRR/RMT, former RAC Education Coordinator

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Research in Reflexology is ongoing proving the benefits. As a natural and harmless way to health, the therapy is used to obtain relief from all kinds of conditions from general stress to specific disorders often where conventional treatment has failed. In addition to the reduction of stress, a physical benefit of a session include improved blood and lymph circulation, which provides increased oxygenation to body tissue. The improved circulatory activity affects internal systems and organs, helping to relieve symptoms of physical hardships, which include digestive difficulties, sluggish bowel movement or pain associated with various physical conditions. Many other benefits have been documented as well, many of which are listed in the “Research” section of our Library.

Reflexology can be used to maintain good health, to build resistance and to prevent illness. Health problems may be detected before they become serious. Mental and physical tension is released, a state of relaxation is induced and energy and vitality abound. Simply put, the art of Reflexology brings about the restoration of balance, harmony and optimum health.