a therapist giving her client a foot massage

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology has been around for more than a century, and is based on a study conducted by Sir Charles Sherrington and Sir Henry Head during the 1890s. Reflexology is an alternative therapy used or recommended by many holistic health professionals. It is also known as ‘Zone Therapy’ because it works on zones and areas of the body in order to heal.

Reflexology Restores Energy Balance in the Body

Reflexology is based on the existence of the “qi” which means vital energy. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that this vital energy exists in every human being. However, the presence of stress blocks the flow of this energy throughout the body, resulting in various health issues. Reflexology aims to bring back the balance of “qi” to the body so that healing can begin.

Application of Pressure

Practitioners believe that each pressure point found in the hands and feet (and also the ears) are connected to different parts of the body. Reflexologists use these pressure points to act upon the related body part, whether that be organ, muscle, or bone.

They ensure they’re applying the right amount of pressure to the correct areas of the body. This pressure stimulates the body to respond and provides relief to the affected areas. Reflexologists believe that the flow of vital energy required will occur with the pressure applied correctly.

The theory behind reflexology is that the application of pressure to specific areas allows messages to be sent from the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system. As a result, the body will perceive this as a signal to make adjustments to the stress and tension levels in the referred area.

Additionally, feelings of relaxation will be achieved, and this helps the different systems of the body to function at a more optimum level. This is because the application of pressure enables the sending of more oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body, due to the improvement in blood flow and circulation.

Reflexology is believed to have positive impacts on the body’s immune, endocrine, neuropeptide, circulatory and respiratory systems.

Reflexology Effectiveness Studies

Although there haven’t been any long-term and large-scale studies conducted on the effectiveness of reflexology, there have been studies that suggest that reflexology can indeed provide significant health benefits. If you have ever had a reflexologist work on you, then you have probably experienced amazing results. Reflexology may not have many clinical studies to showcase, but the positive reports from the many people who have benefited from their sessions cannot be denied.

One 2011 study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute, showed that reflexology treatments helped cancer patients to experience a reduction of their symptoms, including shortness of breath. This study involved 240 advanced breast cancer patients. An improvement in their quality of life was recorded as one of the benefits of undergoing reflexology treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy and other medical treatment. That evidence makes it worth giving a try!

Another study conducted on PMS sufferers showed a reduction in their symptoms after a 2 month treatment period. A 2014 study involved giving heart surgery patients a 20-minute reflexology session every four days. The results showed that the study participants who undertook the reflexology sessions experienced reduced levels of anxiety, which was not experienced by the study participants who did not undergo the reflexology sessions.

Reflexology is a non-invasive practice. It can also be used in conjunction with other energy healing therapies, including Reiki and other hands-on treatments provided by physical therapists and chiropractors.

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Reflexology: What the Science Shows” Now!

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