Reflexology is a type of therapy where pressure is applied to specific areas of the body. The most common areas are the feet, hands, and ears.
By putting pressure on certain points on these areas, reflexologists hope to relieve other parts of the body. The key concept in reflexology is that certain pressure points are connected to other organs in the body. For example, pressing on one pressure point on the foot may help to relieve discomfort or problems in the stomach.
Reflexology Body Maps
Reflexologists have created maps of the feet, hands, and ears to keep track of the pressure points and corresponding organs. These maps are called reflexology body maps and they often cover most organs in the body such as the heart, liver, and lungs. The maps also show correspondence with bones and major body systems. In general, the left foot will have points that correspond to organs on the left side of the body, and the right foot will correspond to the right side. For example, the liver is on the right side of the body, so if a reflexologist was trying to help alleviate discomfort related to the liver, he or she would find the pressure point on the right foot.
One of the key parts of reflexology is that reflexologists do not diagnose any possible medical problems. During a reflexology treatment, the reflexologist will feel for areas of the hands, feet, and ears that have tension, and at the end of the treatment they tell the client where they felt unusual texture so that the client may seek out their GP if they want to investigate further. During treatment, reflexologists usually use their hands and fingers, but they sometimes use other items like wooden sticks and rubber bands and balls in order to apply pressure to the points.
Reflexology Video Overview
The History of Reflexology
The history of reflexology dates back to ancient civilizations, probably the Egyptians. There have also been Buddhist carvings from India and China that may be early body maps indicating the practice of reflexology. The practice was likely introduced to Europe in the 14th century when Marco Polo translated Chinese books into Italian for his fellow Italians. Once this knowledge was shared with Europe, it was eventually expanded on until Dr. Adamus and Dr. A’tatis published a book in 1582 on the zone therapy element of reflexology.
The father of reflexology is known as William H. Fitzgerald, who wrote about vertical zones in the body in the United States in 1917. In his writing, he said that applying pressure to one of the zones he described could relieve pain associated with an injured area during minor surgeries. His work was continued by Dr. Shelby Riley, who added a map of horizontal zones, whereas Fitzgerald had focused on vertical zones. Riley also created a detailed map of reflexology points on the hands and feet, and even suggested that there may be points on the outer ear as well. Eunice Ingram was a therapist who worked for Riley, and she further developed foot maps, which are now a part of the body maps used by reflexologists today. She also increased reflexology in the 1930s by sharing the practices with the non-medical community.
The last part of the history of reflexology was in 1957 when Dr. Paul Nogier created a reflex map for the points on the outer ear. His work has been continued and is now a part of what therapists learn when studying reflexology for the hands, feet, and ears.
Reflexology and other Treatments
The practice of reflexology has been growing in popularity, especially in Europe and Asia where it is used either as a preventative measure or to compliment other treatments. Usually people go to reflexologists to get a treatment to combine with other treatments for conditions such as PMS, anxiety, asthma, diabetes, and many other medical conditions.
Reflexology treatments are different from traditional massage because the client remains fully clothed during the treatment, except for footwear, which is removed. Recipients of reflexology treatments can stay fully clothed because the reflexologist will only be working on the hands, feet, and ears during the treatment.
The benefits of reflexology can include the reduction of stress and anxiety, an increase in sleep and relaxation, and relief from physical pain from an injury or psychological pain from depression. Several studies in Denmark, where some companies have hired reflexologists since the 1990s, have shown a decrease in sick leave for employees do to reflexology treatments. These employees reported consistently that they had received either partial or total improvement after seeing reflexologists for conditions related to stress.