What is reflexology?
Reflexology is the technique of applying gentle pressure to reflex areas on the feet or hands to bring about a state of deep relaxation and to stimulate the body’s own healing processes.
It is a natural therapy that can also facilitate more vital energy, help boost the immune system and create a stronger body and calmer mind.
Reflexology is a safe, natural therapy that helps to give your body what it needs that might be conceiving or carrying a baby to full term, a reduction in the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, assistance in losing weight or in feeling younger and looking healthier. Discover how reflexology and a holistic approach to health can help you achieve and fulfill both emotional and physical goals.
The theory of reflexology
The theory underlying reflexology is that the organs, nerves, glands and other parts of the body are connected to reflex areas or reflex points on the feet and hands. These areas are found on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, as well as on the top and sides of the feet and hands.
By stimulating these areas using a compression technique and a form of massage with your thumbs, fingers and hands, you can create a direct response in a related body area. For example, by working on the head reflex (which is found on the big toe), you can activate the body’s own healing processes to help alleviate headaches.
The right foot and hand represent the right side of the body, while the left foot and hand represent the left side; and according to ‘zone therapy’, there are ten different zones in the body. The feet are most commonly worked on in reflexology, because practitioners feel they are normally more responsive to treatment than the hands, since they contain a larger treatment area and so the reflex points are easier to identify; and, because the feet are usually protected by shoes and socks, they are more sensitive to treatment.
However, the hands can also be used for treatments just as effectively and are great for the elderly especially if access to the feet proves to be impractical.
Creating a state of balance
Reflexology is all about bringing balance, harmony and a sense of well-being to the body. At times, we find ourselves feeling ‘out of sorts or ungrounded’, and our body needs equilibrium in order to keep working healthily. Even a very light reflexology treatment can help create this sense of balance.
Reflexology is not a therapy used to diagnose illness; it is not a medical treatment. It does not cure – only the body can do that. Instead it facilitates healing within the body. It is virtually impossible to determine how long it will take an individual to feel and enjoy the benefits of reflexology.
Everything starts with one small step, but it is the commitment to reflexology that can drive forward a positive outcome.
The roots of reflexology
The very roots of reflexology and its relationship with healthcare and astrology are believed to date back to ancient Egypt, where astrologer/physicians looked towards the stars to provide a theoretical basis on which to treat patients.
The oldest documentation depicting the practice of reflexology was discovered in the tomb of an Egyptian physician called Ankmahor, dated around 2500 BCE. Ankmahor was considered one of the most influential people at that time, second only to the king. Within his tomb were found many medically related paintings, and the one shown here is believed to be the earliest example of reflexology. Two patients are receiving reflexology on their hands and feet.
‘Don’t hurt me’, one patient says in the inscription; and the practitioner’s reply is, ‘I shall act so you praise me’.
Reflexology was obviously being practiced either as a preventative to ill health or to help ease patients’ medical conditions; either way, it is clear that the practitioners wished to meet their patients’ needs. Working with a reflexologist, the physician would have devised individual treatment plans for his patients that focused on the prevention of illness or on treating a current condition – so that practitioners were acting ‘so you praise me’.
Over the years, various forms of reflexology have been practiced and developed in America, Africa and the Far East. These often developed in different ways, with different lengths of treatment, heavier or lighter pressure, and even the use of implements such as small sticks or the end of a pipe.