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Foot Reflexology

The Basics of Foot Reflexology

The Basics of Foot Reflexology Foot reflexology is a simple, non-invasive method to help balance the body. It has been described as a natural therapy that involves the application of a specific type of pressure on particular areas of the feet. Reflexology is the physical act of applying pressure to the feet and hand with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands with a premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.

Reflexology is a therapy that deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to all of the organs and systems in the body. These points are worked on in specific manipulations that are generally pleasant and are done while you relax. Doing reflexology means more than working on your feet. It is actually working with the person, attempting to mobilize inner energies (physical and mental in conflation) in order to fight any imbalance in the system. The reflexologist systematically approaches that neglected area between body and soul where modern medical practice normally stops

This therapy has been around for thousands of years in China and elsewhere, where reflexology has long been practiced. More recently, early in the 20th century, American physician William Fitzgerald mapped out 10 zones of the body and keyed each zone to a region of the foot. The later finding of so-called reflex points led to the use of the term reflexology to describe the manipulations designed to bring relief. 

The History of Reflexology

History of Reflexology Dates Back to Ancient Times Around the world and throughout history reflexology has been rediscovered and reinstated as a health practice time and time again by peoples around the globe seeking to deal with health concerns. Archeological evidence in Egypt (2330 BCE), China (2704 BCE) and Japan (690 CE) points to ancient reflexology medical systems. In the West the concept of reflexology began to emerge in the 19th century, based on research into the nervous system and reflex. While no direct evidence of direct cross-fertilization from ancient times has been discovered, the practice of foot and hand work in a variety of cultures, belief systems and historical periods speaks to reflexology for health as a universal bridging concept.

Many civilizations have practiced reflexology. Evidence of this has been documented on four continents: Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. The most common theory is that the earliest form of reflexology originated in China, as much as 5000 years ago. The early Taoists are credited with originating many Chinese health practises. The Cherokee tribes of North America to this day practise a form of reflexology that they continue to pass from generation to generation. Reflexology travelled across India, 
Japan, Asia, and China. Traditional East Asian foot reflexology is called Zoku Shin Do. This is the foot portion of the Japanese massage technique. The roots of Zoku Shin Do go back to ancient China and are over 5000 years old. Many changes took place in zone therapy, or reflexology, as new knowledge was added. In China, reflexology reached a new level. The practice of acupressure using the fingers turned into the practice of acupuncture using needles. The study of the reflex points still existed, but the knowledge was linked or added to and taken in a new direction—the direction of meridians. The Chinese concept of meridian therapy is an important part of the foundation of reflexology

The Foot Reflexology Chart The Foot Reflexology Chart

In a reflexology chart the body is reflected on the feet or hands. It serves a s a map for technique application to target health goals.

Left foot or hand reflects the left side of the body and the right foot or hand the right side. The spine reflex area runs down the insides of the feet and hands with reflex areas for the arm and shoulder reflected toward the outside of the foot or hand. The toes and fingers mirror the head and neck as well as the parts of the body they encase. The ball of the foot mirrors the chest and upper back in addition the heart and lungs. 

Halfway down the foot at the base of the long bones of the foot is represented the waistline of the body. the parts of the body above the waistline are mirrored above this line and those below sare represented below it. Internal organs lying above the body's waistline are reflected by reflex areas above this line while those below the waistline are mirrored below this line.

The Benefits of Reflexology on the Mind and BodyThe Benefits of Foot Reflexology

Known benefits of foot reflexology include relaxation and relief of stress; promotion of restful sleep, assistance with elimination or reduction of digestive problems; overall wellness and improved mental health; and pain management for chronic or acute pain. Less obvious benefits resulting from foot reflexology include reduction of reliance on prescription and over-the-counter drug remedies, savings on overall health care expenses and greater enjoyment in life by alleviating some of life's common stressors noted above. Because the feet and hands help set the tension level for the rest of the body they are an easy way to interrupt the stress signal and reset homeostasis, the body's equilibrium.

Some of the benefits those undergoing reflexology have experienced include:

  • Relaxation and stress relief
  • Pain reduction
  • Amelioration of symptoms for health concerns
  • Rejuvenation of tired feet 
  • Improvement in blood flow 
  • Impact on physiological measures (e. g. blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Beneficial for post-operative recovery and pain reduction
  • Enhancement of medical care (e. g. cancer, phantom limb pain, and hemodialysis patients) 
  • Adjunct to mental health care (e. g. depression, anxiety, Post traumatic stress disorder) 
  • Complement to cancer care (pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety)
  • Easier birthing / delivery / post-partum recovery 

How Foot Reflexology Works

Foot reflexology quite simply refers to the reflexes that have been mapped out in the foot. There are many different foot reflexology charts that show where the reflexes are for every part of the body. Reflexology is different than massage. It is thought that reflexology works through nerve endings whereas massage is applied to the muscles and soft tissue of the body. The actual technique is quite unique as it is meant to affect the reflex and not just the surface of the skin. A treatment should not be painful, though there may be uncomfortable or tender areas if your body is highly stressed. The more one applies pressure to those areas, the less tender they will become.

Pressure sensors in the feet and hands are a part of the body's reflexive response that makes possible the "fight or flight" reaction to danger. Feet ready to flee and hands ready to fight communicate with the body's internal organs to make possible wither eventuality. The sudden adrenal surge that enables a person to lift a car is an example of this reaction. Reflexology taps into this reflex network, providing an exercise of pressure sensors and thus the internal organs to which they are inextricably tied.

The Interactive Foot Reflexology Chart
Place your cursor over the various parts of the foot to see what body systems or functions they interact with.

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