Reflexology – What Is It?
Updated: May 27
Reflexology is a modality of massage therapy based on the theory that the hands, feet, and ears contain points linked to various organs and areas of the body.
This ancient practice was first transmitted through oral tradition, and can be traced back to Egypt where it was depicted on Ankhamor’s tomb circa 2330 BC.
This type of massage also has roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In fact, an entire chapter dedicated to pressure points of the feet can be found in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine which was written in 2600 BC, making it the first known medical textbook ever written.
How does Reflexology work?
There are a few different theories about how reflexology works. In 1917, Dr. William Fitzgerald developed Zone Theory, an ideology that the human body is divided vertically into ten zones. By using various types of pressure and strokes within these ten zones in your hands and feet theoretically, your therapist has access to all organs and tissues throughout the body.
Physiotherapist, Eunice Ingham, is well known for reflexology charts, and images of hand and foot maps she created in the 1930s that we are familiar with today. While ample anecdotal evidence of reflexology’s effectiveness exists, researchers still aren’t completely sure how it functions.
In Chinese medicine, different body parts correspond with different pressure points on the body. Reflexologists use maps of these points in the feet, hands, and ears to determine where they should apply pressure. They believe their touch sends energy flowing through a person’s body until it reaches the area in need of healing.
In the 1890s, British scientists found that nerves connect the skin and internal organs. They also found that the body’s entire nervous system tends to adjust to outside factors, including touch.
A reflexologist’s touch may help to calm the central nervous system, promoting relaxation and other benefits just like any form of massage. Others believe that the brain creates pain as a subjective experience. Sometimes, the brain reacts to physical pain. But in other cases, it may create pain in response to emotional or mental distress.
What are the benefits of Reflexology?
Our hands and feet contain a high concentration of nerve endings that help our bodies receive information from our environment. This means, massaging the hands and feet can be especially enjoyable, and induce feelings of relaxation. It can also improve circulation, reduce edema (swelling), and assist in the removal of cellular waste (toxins).
Additionally, recent findings from a trial study, found that foot massage improved people’s balance, coordination, and range of motion. View the trial study here!
This can be extremely beneficial as we age. This can also be helpful for those with Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or those with diabetes who are trying to manage peripheral neuropathy.
What are some things that Reflexology can help with?
-Edema (swelling in the hands and feet)
-Peripheral Neuropathy (nerve damage)
What should you expect at your Reflexology appointment?
When you arrive, you will discuss any current issues and determine areas you want to focus on with your massage therapist so they can tailor a session especially for you. They will be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. Your massage therapist will use their hands, and sometimes tools such as hot stones, gua sha, and essential oils, to apply various strokes, and stimulate pressure points in your hands and feet.
Is Reflexology safe during pregnancy?
Yes, reflexology is safe during pregnancy. There are certain points throughout the body where it’s best to avoid deep repetitive pressure during pregnancy, and some of them are in your feet. However, you should not let this hold you back from accessing the deep relief foot massage has to offer as licensed massage therapists are very familiar with these points. If you are struggling with pregnancy onset edema or carpal tunnel, reflexology may help reduce your symptoms.
Curious what a gua sha tool looks like, or want to buy one of your own?
Here’s a link to one we recommend: SHOP HERE
During the massage, you may simply feel relief locally, or you may experience sensations in areas of your body that feel unrelated to where your massage therapist is working. The human body is such an intricate and fascinating machine. Everything is connected!
So – Are you ready to try it out?
You can request to have reflexology incorporated into a 60 or 90 minute session here at All Natural Health and Wellness, or you can schedule a 30 minute reflexology session dedicated exclusively to the hands and feet: BOOK HERE
Lastly, here is a link to acupressure ear seeds in our amazon store for anyone interested in exploring the reflexology points of the ear: SHOP HERE
By: Amanda Rae
Massage Therapist LMT at ANH Wellness