A short introduction to Reflexology

Reflexology is a type of massage that involves applying different amounts of pressure to the feet, hands, and ears. Read on to learn about this amazing practice.
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Reflexology is based on a theory that these body parts are connected to certain organs and body systems. Applying pressure to these parts offers a range of health benefits. This fascinating therapy is centuries old but there a few theories on how it works. Lets explore the history of reflexology.

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What's the theory behind reflexology?

Reflexology rests on the ancient Chinese belief in qi (pronounced “chi”), or “vital energy.” According to this belief, qi flows through each person and when a person feels stressed, their body blocks the flow of qi. This can cause an imbalance in the body, sometimes leading to illness. Reflexology aims to keep qi flowing through the body naturally, keeping it balanced and disease free.

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. It is believed that this pressure 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 can help to calm the central nervous system, promoting relaxation and giving other benefits just like any form of massage.

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How can reflexology help me?

Reflexology has many potential benefits; so far, there is evidence that reflexology may help to:

  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • reduce pain
  • lift mood
  • improve general well-being

In addition, people have reported that reflexology helped them to:

  • boost their immune system
  • fight cancer
  • get over colds and bacterial infections
  • clear up sinus issues
  • recover from back problems
  • correct hormonal imbalances
  • boost fertility
  • improve digestion
  • ease arthritis pain
  • treat nerve problems and numbness from cancer drugs (peripheral neuropathy)
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Scientific studies

There have been a number of scientific studies into the benefits of reflexology: 

In a 2011 study, experts studied how reflexology treatments affected 240 women with advanced breast cancer. All women were undergoing medical treatment, such as chemotherapy, for their cancer. The study found that reflexology helped to reduce some of their symptoms, including shortness of breath. The participants also reported an improved quality of life. 

Experts have also looked at the effects of reflexology on pain in women experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In one older study, researchers looked at the effects of ear, hand, and foot reflexology on 35 women who previously reported having of PMS symptoms. They found that those who received two months of reflexology treatment reported significantly fewer PMS symptoms than the women who did not. 

In a 2014 study that was slightly larger, researchers gave people undergoing heart surgery a 20-minute foot reflexology treatment once a day for four days. They found that those who received the reflexology treatment reported significantly lower levels of anxiety than those who didn’t. Touch by another human being is a relaxing, caring, anxiety-reducing action for most people.

Should I give it a go?

Generally, reflexology is very safe, even for people living with serious health conditions. It’s noninvasive and comfortable to receive, so it may be worth trying. It’s also an incredibly relaxing practice, so even if you don’t have any health issues, it’s a lovely therapy to have. 

If you’re interested in having a reflexology session, why not search for a qualified reflexologist on the Holistic List!

Have you tried reflexology? Would you recommend it? Share your thoughts below.

Andrew R
Author: Andrew R