Anyone who has experienced a foot massage will know how to answer what is reflexology. At the end of a long day they knows how pleasant and relaxing reflexology can be. Reflexology, or reflex zone therapy, is a specialized foot massage based on a system of energy pathways.
It is likely that reflexology as it is practiced today has its root in ancient China, along with acupressure and acupuncture. There is also archaeological evidence from ancient Egypt and ancient Greece which indicates that foot massage may have been used as a therapy by physicians at the time. Foot massage for healing was also common among the native peoples of North and South America.
What Is Reflexology?
Reflexologists view the underside of the foot as a chart of the human body. They believe that it is divided up into different areas, or reflex zones, that are directly connected to specific organs and structures, such as the spine, shoulders and head. They maintain that illness and disease are the result of energy imbalances in specific organs or body structures and that these imbalances are reflected in the corresponding area on the soles of the feet. By massaging these areas, a reflexologist can detect and then correct the problem, clearing the way for the body to heal itself.
Modern reflexology was developed during the early part of the 20th century by two Americans, the physician Dr William Fitzgerald and Eunice Ingham, who continued his work. Fitzgerald first proposed the idea that the body was divided into 10 zones, starting at the head and ending at the toes, and that these zones were reflected on the soles of the feet. Ingham elaborated on this basic theory and developed the now familiar reflexology chart showing the zones on the soles of the feet and areas of the body to which they correspond.
What Is Reflexology in practice
A reflexology session typically lasts up to an hour. The practitioner will ask you about your symptoms and then spend some time examining your feet. Treatment often begins with the practitioner dusting your feet with talcum powder and giving them a gentle, all over massage. Problem areas can often be identified at this stage because they feel tender or sore. The practitioner will then use his or her thumbs to massage these areas. It may be slightly painful at first but this sensation soon disappears as treatment progresses and is often replaced by a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.
Most reflexologists maintain that several sessions are needed before the full effects of reflexology are felt. As the treatment takes effect you may experience what reflexologists describe as cleansing reactions such as a headache, sweating, diarrhea and an increased desire to urinate. Practitioners attribute this to an increase in the efficiency of the body’s elimination system as a result of the treatment and view it as a good sign.
Reflexology Feet And Back
There is no agreed scientific theory as to how reflexology works, but many people report that it helps back problems, including neck pain and sciatica. A reflexologist might treat neck pain by pressing on the base of the big toe, the zone that corresponds to the neck. In the same way, back pain could be treated by applying pressure to the inside edges of the big toes and all along the inside of the foot as this is thought to correspond to the spine.
The zone corresponding to the bladder may also be massaged as this is believed to be linked to the supporting muscles and ligaments that run up and down the length of the spine. Stimulation of this zone will therefore relieve the problem of associated pain. Zones corresponding to the sciatic nerve are located toward the bottom of the foot, close to the heel.
Vacuflex Reflexology System
A high tech version of reflexology that uses a vacuum pump and suction is vacuflex, or the vacuflex reflexology system. It was developed by Danish reflexologist Inge Douglas and has been used to the benefit of many people who have not responded to standard reflexology.
In this therapy you wear a pair of special vacuum boots. The air is pumped out and the boots squeeze your feet, stimulating all the reflex zones at once. The boots are then removed and any areas of discoloration on your feet are said to reveal areas of imbalance. The discoloration fade after 20 or 30 seconds but this gives the practitioner time to assess the state of your health.
Once problem areas have been identified, the practitioner uses small suction pads to stimulate the specific reflex points that need attention. This stimulation is said to unblock the energy pathways.