Reflexology is a form of bodywork that involves applying pressure to the hands and feet to produce changes in pain and other benefits elsewhere in the body.
How Does Reflexology Work?
The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are certain points or “reflex areas” on the feet and hands that are connected energetically to specific organs and body parts through energy channels in the body. By applying pressure to reflex areas, a reflexologist is said to remove energy blockages and promote health in the related body area.
Here are some examples of reflex areas and their corresponding body parts:
- The tips of the toes reflect the head
- The heart and chest are around the ball of the foot
- The liver, pancreas, and kidney are in the arch of the foot
- Low back and intestines are towards the heel
Although the roots of reflexology go back to ancient Egypt and China, William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced this concept of “zone therapy” in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram further developed the zone theory in the 1930’s into what is known as modern reflexology.
According to reflexologists, pressure on the reflex points also helps to balance the nervous system and stimulates the release of endorphins that help to reduce pain and stress.
Why Do People Get Reflexology?
- Stress and stress-related conditions
- Tension headaches and migraines
- Digestive disorders
- Hormonal imbalances
- Sports injuries
- Menstrual disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Digestive problems, such as constipation
- Multiple sclerosis
- Back pain
Reflexology is also used for post-operative or palliative care. A 2015 reviewpublished in Integrative Cancer Therapies found that massage was effective for the relief of cancer pain, especially for surgery-related pain.