The word itself is normally associate with mental images of people massaging feet or weird diagrams with tiny organ-shaped labels over specific parts of the underside of a foot. However, reflexology treatments are not limited to the feet alone. Therapists that practice it apply pressure to certain points found in the lower legs, hands, face and even in the ears! Why does anyone believe that it will work? The truth is, it doesn’t always. Professional sessions are often tailored to the individual being treated. Therefore, its influence and success rate can be as varied as the types of people that seek it. In terms of history and understanding how it works, reflexology is no different from any other therapy.
Well-trained reflexologists do not usually claim that they can cure, diagnose or prescribe medication for their patients. Many view reflexology as a non-intrusive, holistic complementary therapy that should be used alongside medical treatment rather than as an alternative solution to it. Though it can help people of any age and from different backgrounds, reflexology is not always a suitable choice for people during certain times. For example, those who have suffered – or are still suffering – from deep vein thrombosis, an acute infection accompanied by a high fever or a stroke as well as those who are prone to unstable pregnancies.
Practitioners of reflexology use their techniques to help restore the natural balance of the body by stimulating its innate healing process. Historical evidence shows that the concept of reflexology existed as far back in time as the reign of Emperor Wen-di, who was part of the Han dynasty in Ancient China. Experts have also discovered old medical textbooks, that date back to Ancient Egyptian and Indian times, containing similiar information. The idea was introduced to the Western world by Dr William Fitzgerald as a practice called Zone therapy. Sometime during the 1930s, a physiologist known as Eunice Ingham researched and developed the works of Dr Fitzgerald, later gaining the authority to replace the name Zone therapy with reflexology.
According to our understanding, the body part chosen for treatment – generally the foot or hand – has three distinct zones based on the structure of its bones. Presumably, the bones are categorised by the following names and definitions:
- the phalanges – found in the fingers and toes
- the metacarpals or metatarsals – that form the upper part of the palm or sole
- the carpals or tarsals – found in the lower section of the palm or sole
The two lines that split all three types of bone reflect the shoulder and pelvic lines of the body. The selected body part is divided further by another ten vertical lines, which form the reflexology points or ‘buttons’ when combined. Reflexologists apply pressure to these points, sometimes with oil or lotion, using specific thumb, finger or hand techniques. They aim to relax and rebalance the organs, glands or anatomical structures that are connected to each point by groups of nerve endings. By stimulating them, they prompt the brain to send blood and lymph fluid to the corresponding areas, both of which seem to trigger the natural healing process of the body.
Any congestion or tension in the body can be mirrored in specific sections of the body part being treated. Discomfort felt during the treatment is usually linked to stagnation or chemical imbalances found in the respective organs or anatomical structures of the point being placed under pressure. Interestingly enough, the curves of the foot are almost identical to those found along the length of the spine.
We hope that this information has benefited you, our dear readers, and we would love to hear from you. Comments, questions and weekly topic suggestions are always welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Thank you for reading!
The Pure Therapy Team