Reflexology is based on the principle that there are different areas situated on the feet, hands, and ears, which correspond to different areas in the body. According to reflexologists there are different reflex areas on the feet and hands which form a body map; an image of the body. Reflexologists manipulate these zones through pressure on the premise and believe this pressure will physically affect different areas of the body. While there is no concrete medical evidence which supports this theory, practitioners are adamant that they can improve health and wellness through pressure points on these areas, and despite the lack of support from the medical community many people have found comfort and recovery through this alternative practice.
Reflexologists claim that they are able to influence “life energy” (known as Qi), open energy pathways and restore energy balance through this treatment. While facing a fair amount of criticism from the scientific community, reflexology still holds some standing, especially in the circles of alternative medicine practitioners. So, we know that reflexology has come under fire in recent years, but where did this treatment originate and can that possibly aid in substantiating reflexologist’s claims, debunking whether this alternative treatment has historical substance or if it was just formulated by a guy who was looking to make a quick buck and, instead, made a fortune.
Interestingly enough the practices and principles of reflexology can be traced back to ancient Chinese and Egyptian civilizations. A practice started in the United States in 1913 when a doctor by the name of William H. Fitzgerald claimed that by applying pressure in specific areas he could anesthetise other areas of the body. This idea was developed in the 1930’s by Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist stated that the hands and feet mapped the body through various reflexes. It was then that what was known as “zone therapy” was renamed reflexology. Ingham’s findings were then later developed by a woman by then name of Laura Norman who shaped and formed the practice of reflexology into the practice that it is today.
Now that we know the history of this alternative treatment, how does it work? We know that reflexologists claim that different areas on the feet and hands affect different areas of the body, but let’s delve a little deeper. For example, according to reflexologists the balls of the feet affect the heart and chest area, the tips of the toes affect the head; the arch triggers the pancreas and liver, and the heel; the lower back and intestines. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but through applying pressure to these areas reflexologists believe that they can promote health in organs in the corresponding areas. An explanation of the treatment is that these pressure points send impulses to the brain, releasing chemicals and producing endorphins which combat pain and de-stress the body.
While reflexology does provide stress and pain relief it is also an extremely relaxing treatment. Indeed, reflexologists do apply firm pressure during the treatment, but this being said a reflexology session should never be painful. If you do experience pain during the treatment ensure that you let your reflexologists know. Your therapist may continue to apply pressure to these tender areas and the discomfort should decrease.
So, although there is limited evidence to substantiate this alternative treatment and a possibility of pain during the treatment, so why would anyone try reflexology? Because of the results! Despite the substantial opposition from the scientific community reflexology has helped many people with headaches, arthritis, hormonal imbalances, insomnia, stress, digestive disorders, and other conditions. The fact of the matter is; if you are finding no respite from any one of these conditions then why wouldn’t you try it? Each and every person is different, and while reflexology might not work for your neighbour it may work wonders for you!
This treatment is for anyone and everyone. You cannot say that a treatment is ineffective until you have tried it, and while there is much division around the subject, it could be your save and grace. Try a session of reflexology and at the very worst, you’ll simply relax and feel great afterwards. And if you are ticklish, don’t worry. Reflexologists apply a fair amount of pressure, so even if you giggle when someone touches your feet you will soon get over it and relax.