Reflexology is also known as zone therapy. It is an alternative medicine that involves the application of pressure to the areas on the feet or hands using specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without using oil or lotion. The theory behind foot reflexology is that areas of the foot correspond to organs and systems of the body. And it is believed that pressure applied to the foot can bring relaxation and healing to the corresponding area of the body.
There are also some studies indicating that reflexology may reduce pain and psychological symptoms like anxiety and stress, and as well as enhance sleep and relaxation.
History of Reflexology
There are practices that resemble reflexology that may have existed in previous historical periods. In fact, foot reflexology dates back to ancient Egypt and China which is over 5,000 years ago. But it was in 1913 when reflexology was introduced to the United States by William H. Fitzgerald, M.D. who was an ear, nose, and throat specialist, together with Edwin F. Bowers.
Fitzgerald claimed when pressure is applied to the foot, it had an anesthetic effect on other areas of the body. In the 1930s and 1940s, reflexology was modified by a nurse and physiotherapist named Eunice D. Ingham. She claimed that the feet are sensitive, and mapped the entire body into “reflexes” on the feet. She also renamed it to “zone therapy” reflexology. Her methods are used by modern reflexologists.
How Does Foot Reflexology Work?
There are a few different theories on how foot reflexology work and here are some of them.
- In Traditional Chinese Medicine
The ancient Chinese uses reflexology because they believe in qi or “vital energy”. Based on their belief, vital energy flows through each person and when a person feels stressed, his body blocks that vital energy, causing an imbalance in the body which can lead to illness.
They use reflexology to keep qi flowing through the body to maintain it balanced and disease free. They use maps in the feet to determine where they should apply pressure. The ancient Chinese believe that their touch sends energy flowing through a person’s body until it reaches the area in need of healing.
- Other Theories
There are British scientists in the 1890s who found out that nerves connect the skin and internal organs. They also learned that the body’s entire nervous system tends to adjust to outside factors which include touch. This is the reason why they believe that a reflexologist’s touch may help calm the central nervous system which can promote relaxation and other benefits just like any form of massage.
There are also others who believe that the brain creates pain as a subjective experience and sometimes it reacts to physical pain. But other times, it may create pain in response to mental or emotional distress.
There is also the zone theory which is another belief used to explain how reflexology works. According to this theory, the body contains 10 vertical zones and each of them contains different body parts and corresponds to specific toes. Based on the practitioners of the zone theory, touching these toes allow them to access every body part in a particular zone.
Benefits of Foot Reflexology
Our feet experience a lot of stress each day and no body part is more abused than them. They stand, run, and jump, that’s why reflexologists believe that overall health begins in our feet and travels up. There are no hard facts to prove what foot reflexology can really do, but according to practitioners and patients, here are some of the benefits you can get from it.
- It can cure colds and minor ailments.
- It can prevent or cure diseases.
- It can increase energy.
- It can relieve pressure on the legs and feet of pregnant women.
- It can improve blood and lymph circulation.
- It can stimulate the activity of internal organs.
- It can relieve anxiety, pain, and stress.
- It can prevent injury.
- It can successfully treat constipation, skin allergies, chronic headaches, and liver dysfunction.
The benefits you can get from foot reflexology are not purely physical. It’s because it can also help in improving your mental and emotional state. A lot of people who seek out a foot reflexologist are looking for relaxation and stress relief.
Areas of the Foot and Which Areas of the Body They Correspond With
As mentioned before, reflexologists believe that each area in our foot corresponds to certain areas in our body. Here are some of them:
- Toes: head and neck regions, and organs
- Inside strip of each foot: spine
- The wider diameter of the foot: chest region and organs, stomach, intestines, and bladder
- Heels and hind foot: pelvic region organs, buttocks, and legs
- Tips of the toes: sinuses
Foot Reflexology Products
Where to Buy
Here are some of the best foot reflexology products we found that you might want to try.
These slippers are designed to soothe foot pain and tension caused by arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and neuropathy. They can help promote better blood flow which can enhance overall health. But remember that you can only wear these slippers for 15 minutes a day and not all day as casual slippers. It may also hurt when you first use them, that’s why you can wear socks and try to shorten the time you wear them to feel better.
This is a physiotherapeutic massager that is created based on traditional reflexology and acupuncture theories. It can help improve blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, and metabolism. This device can also provide relief for stress, fatigue, aches and pains, and it promotes all-round better health and well-being. It is an all-in-one device that provides reflexology therapy, acupuncture therapy, massage therapy, and infrared therapy.
This is a book written by Mildred Carter. It contains reflexology techniques which have helped millions of people all over the world to live healthy lives that are free of pain and discomfort. All of the methods she shared here are simple, safe, and effective. It is a great book to read if you want to learn more about foot reflexology.
This is another book about foot reflexology and it is written by Dwight C. Byers. It is an excellent training guide to conduct the Ingham Method of Foot Reflexology on yourself and on other as well. This book contains large colored photos and lots of foot reflexology techniques you can try. It is a great book if you want to learn about the body’s functions and how all of the organs and glands can be manipulated through foot reflexology.
This foot massager roller is designed to sooth foot and heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis, neuropathy, and other ailments. It can refresh tired, sore, and achy feet, and as well as promote better blood flow to enhance your overall health. It is a portable massager that is perfect for feet of all sizes.
These are magnetic inserts you can use for pain relief. It contains 8 magnets that are arranged according to the acupuncture theory. It massages the soles of the feet continuously to relax the muscles and help restore chronic lumbar sprains. These are durable magnetic inserts that can be used by both men and women.
This is a reflexology foot massage lotion that you can use at home. It can help in increasing blood circulation and it also revitalizes energy. This lotion can also reduce stress through mind-calming infusion of aroma therapeutic scents. It is a natural, greaseless lotion that does not contain mineral oil. It can also help in conditioning and softening dry skin and calluses.
What You Can Expect
The main goal of foot reflexology is to release stress in the nervous system and balance our energy. It means that a reflexology session can either be general or can also focus on specific problem areas. A usual reflexology session can last for up to 30 minutes. You can enjoy it seated or lying down.
But keep in mind that foot reflexology is not a cure or a medical treatment and it does not treat specific illnesses. You should also remember that everyone’s body responds differently to reflexology. This means that you might notice no response after you first try it.