Reflexology is a therapy based on the principle that there are small and specific areas of innervation in the hands and feet that correspond to specific muscle groups or organs of the body. In this system, the nerve endings in the extremities provide a “map” of the rest of the body. Examples are the base of the little toe representing the ear, or the ball of the foot representing the lung. Through the application of pressure on particular areas of the hands or feet, reflexology is said to promote benefits such as the relaxation of tension, improvement of circulation, and support of normalized function in the related area in the body.
Reflexology works to restore the body’s health. According to reflexology, there are different reflex zones throughout the body. In total there are 10 zones on the body; five on the front and five on the back. Points on the bottom of the feet represent each zone. For instance, foot reflexology points on your toes are representative of the brain.
Reflexology is not a diagnostic or curative procedure. Instead, it is used to complement a variety of health conditions. After one or two foot reflexology sessions you will begin to notice results. That being said, one session per week for four to five straight weeks is the general recommendation. At the end of the sessions the reflexologist will assess the client’s improvement. Reflexology is a lot more than a foot massage. Besides relaxation, there are a number of health benefits of a foot reflexology massage:
1. Cancer: There are a number of studies that show how reflexology can help reduce cancer treatment symptoms, including nausea, pain, constipation or diarrhea.
2. Arthritis: Foot reflexology benefits have also been used for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Several studies suggest that reflexology can reduce the pain associated with arthritis.
3. Hypertension: Reflexology has been found to reduce hypertension—a common risk of heart disease.
4. Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes is a serious health issue that produces high blood sugar levels. Self-administered foot reflexology might have a positive effect in type 2 diabetics.
5. Migraine and Tension Headaches: Foot reflexology massage can also effectively reduce tension and migraine headaches.
6. Anxiety and Depression: Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems. The relaxation benefits of reflexology tend to extend beyond massages.
7. Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a progressive and chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Studies find that reflexology decreases fatigue in women with multiple sclerosis. Other evidence suggests that reflexology may reduce the tingling associated with multiple sclerosis.
8. Sinusitis: Sinusitis is a chronic or acute condition often caused by another respiratory infection like the flu, a cold, or bronchitis.
9. Circulation: Foot reflexology massage is also known to improve blood circulation in the feet and throughout the body. Gently stroking the feet, fingers, and hands will significantly improve blood flow to the vital organs. Blood will deliver nutrients and oxygen to your organs, thereby nourishing your body tissues. A foot reflexology massage before bed can improve circulation in the lower extremities.
10. Eliminates Toxins: Toxins are everywhere these days from processed foods to cosmetics. That is why it is important to have a healthy urinary system. Reflexology has effectively reduced urinary tract issues and improved bladder function. Basically, reflexology can efficiently eliminate toxins from the body and protect the body from various conditions that result from an impaired urinary system.
Foot reflexology massage can also help treat symptoms of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), kidney stones, constipation, backaches and restless leg syndrome. The therapy can also improve memory, manage diabetic neuropathy and ease symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Although reflexology is very effective, there are reflexology precautions to consider. People with certain health conditions such as varicose veins, ingrown toenails, extreme edema, bruises, cuts, foot fractures, athlete’s foot, and infections or sores should avoid reflexology massages.