Reflexology is a type of massage that is mainly performed on the feet and hands. It dates back to Egyptian times and is still widely practiced today throughout the world. The modern form of reflexology has been around since 1917 when Doctor William Fitzgerald discovered that whilst trying to relieve pain in a patient’s hands and feet he also greatly improved the health of other areas of the body. Nowadays the most popular form of reflexology is foot reflexology and many people from all walks of life visit a practitioner to receive this alternative therapy treatment

How does it work?

The human body is divided into different zones represented by a point in the foot or hand. Our feet and hands have nerve endings. Reflexology works by stimulating these nerve endings, which results in promoting relaxation, improving circulation, stimulating vital organs in the body, and encouraging the body’s natural healing processes

The physical act of applying specific pressure using thumb, finger and hand techniques result in stress reduction, which causes a physiological change in the body. Through this skillful application of alternating pressure to reflex areas of the feet, a reflexologist silently communicates with your body. Reflexology works on the underlying problems within the body and through the body’s nervous system

It’s also believed that if a person feels pain or tenderness in the foot, it’s possible that the presence of stress that requires attention. It also means that an imbalance is present

A scientific explanation is that the pressure may send signals that balance the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce pain and stress

Health Benefits of Reflexology

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of reflexology make it particularly helpful for all stress-related conditions, even when there is no clinical evidence of disease. Reflexology induces a state of relaxation, tension is eased, circulation improves and toxins are released and eliminated from the body. As the body’s energies flow there is a renewed sense of health and well being on all levels. Reflexology can benefit, and be enjoyed by, everyone

A few examples of the ailments that can be helped through reflexology are:

- Stress
- Sinus problems
- Migraines
- Arthritis
- Aches in the head, neck and/or body
- Injuries
- Digestive problems
- Poor blood circulation
- Insomnia
- Menstrual cramps
- High blood pressure
- acne and skin problems

What Happens during a Session?

A typical treatment is 45 minutes to 60 minutes long and begins with a consultation about your health and lifestyle

You’re then asked to remove your shoes and socks and sit comfortably in a reclining chair or on a massage table. Otherwise you remain fully clothed. The reflexologist will assess your feet and then stimulate various points to identify areas of tenderness or tension. Once you’re relaxed the reflexologist will begin to gently stretch the foot to loosen and relax the foot. He will then use his thumb and forefinger to make his way down the foot continuing with the same motion

As each area of the foot gets massaged, the practitioner aims to stimulate nerve endings. By stimulating the nerve endings, the aim is to increase the energy and blood flow to the organ or area of the body. The session will usually last for around one hour and afterwards many patients report that they feel lighter and that their feet have a ‘free’ sensation. Many people who work on their feet for a number of hours a week also find the relaxation benefits them enormously

How will I feel after?

Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment. They may even feel sleepy. Occasionally, people feel nauseous, anxious, or tearful, but this is only temporary and is considered to be part of the healing process

Any risks?

If you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor first and let the reflexologist know

Always make sure to give the reflexologist a complete and accurate health history

If you have foot ulcers, injury, or blood vessel disease such as blood clots, consult your doctor before having reflexology

The British Reflexology Association

The British Reflexology Association was founded in 1985 to act as a representative body for persons practising the method of Reflexology as a profession and for students training in the method. The Association also aims to help promote the practice of Reflexology in Great Britain and abroad. Find a reflexologist near you here

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June 01, 2012

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