Traditional Reflexology

footReflexology is a non-invasive, natural holistic therapy. It uses finger and thumb pressure to stimulate reflex areas on the feet, hands and ears. These reflex areas correspond to all the organs, glands and systems within the body. The stimulation releases blocks, clears congestion and improves nerve, blood and lymphatic circulation. This helps the body relax, release toxins and tension, and re-establish its own natural balance.

Clients regularly report states of profound relaxation and tranquility, decreased pain, and more sound night sleep after their session. It is very common for clients to fall asleep during a reflexology session.

Israel, China, Australia and many countries in Europe accept reflexology as a usual health resource. Medical professionals in these countries regularly employ reflexology as part of their wellness programs. Although insurers in the United States do not yet accept reflexology, its popularity is growing as its many benefits become more widely known. The National Institutes of Health and many large medical centers throughout the country recognize the value of reflexology as a complementary and alternative medical therapy.

babyReflexology is suitable for patients from infants to elderly. No matter what a client’s age, the nurturing effect of loving touch affects them all. Reflexology is a gentle and effective way to deal with common infant ailments such as colic. For seniors who suffer from chronic problems, reflexology is valuable because it helps the body to clear away toxins which have built up over time. Reflexology also helps the body balance hormonally and strengthens the immune system.

It can be used safely during pregnancy to improve lymph drainage and deal with swollen legs and feet, thereby helping problems associated with fluid build-up.

How Reflexology Works

Often when we experience pain somewhere in our body, say from an injury or stress, we also experience that same pain as soreness or tenderness in the corresponding reflex area of our feet, hands or ears. We have all experienced how a good foot rub can improve our mood, release our stress and even make those other parts of our body that may be achy or painful, feel good again.

How can this be? Can working on the hands or feet affect pain or injuries in other parts of our body? Are these areas somehow connected? According to reflexology theory, yes, there are connections. Exactly how these connections work has not been clearly determined, but here are three major theories.

Western theory
There are more than 7200 nerve endings in each foot which go up the legs, and connect with other nerves throughout the entire body. When we are balanced and in harmony, energy can flow freely to all parts of our body. However, when an imbalance occurs in one part of the body due to stress or injury, the energy flow is obstructed and congestion results. In the reflex areas in the hands and feet, congestion is often sensed as tender, sore, or gritty points. Breaking down the congestion through finger and thumb pressure on the reflex area, often brings relief to the corresponding part of the body, restoring balance and health throughout the body.

Eastern theory
According to Eastern medicine, the vital life energy force, chi, travels throughout the body in channels called meridians. So long as the meridians are open, energy flows freely. However, blockages can form as the result of injury, illness or stress, affecting the energy flow in the meridian where the blockage occurs. As a result, the decreased energy supply causes the other body parts along that meridian to become imbalanced. Balance can be restored by eliminating the blockage through manual stimulation of the affected area, much as occurs in reflexology. Energy again flows freely in the meridians and thus balance and health are restored to the body.

zonetherapy Zone theory
In the early 1900s an American physician, Dr. William FitzGerald, discovered that an anesthetic effect could be produced in one part of the body by applying pressure on another part. This knowledge was known in ancient India, Egypt and China where practices similar to reflexology were commonly used. Dr. FitzGerald eventually mapped 10 vertical zones, 5 on each side of the body. Each zone runs from a toe, up the body to the head and down the arm to a finger. A sensitive spot in one zone of the foot might indicate an imbalance at any point along the zone, and relief of a congested place in the foot or hand could eliminate blockages anywhere within the same zone.

Modern American reflexology is based on Zone Therapy as developed and taught by Dr. William FitzGerald. Dr. Joe Shelby Riley embraced this new therapy and used it in his clinic. Eunice Ingham, a physical therapist in Dr. Riley’s general practice, pioneered the development of modern reflexology in the 1930s. Her methods and findings have now spread around the world and her work has been continued by her nephew, Dwight Byers, through the International Institute of Reflexology.

Eunice Inghameunice
Foot and hand reflexology are most commonly used today, although reflex points in the outer ears were known in ancient China. In the 1950s, a French research scientist and physician, Dr. Paul Nogier developed auriculotherapy which has become the basis of ear reflexology. The results of his work are now well known, taught and used in Europe, the United States and even in China.