I discovered reflexology a few years ago during one of my visits to Hong Kong. After a hectic and stressful day at work, I desperately needed some de-stressing. A chart showing a foot marked with various parts of the body and a prominent signage that mentioned ‘Walk in for a journey from the sole to your soul’ beckoned me. I decided to give it a try. I walked out feeling completely rejuvenated; I had experienced the power of reflexology.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a holistic therapy that works on the hands and feet to restore balance within the whole body. Working on the reflex points present in the hands and feet can help clear blockages and congestion in other ‘related’ parts of the body. Reflexology does not aim to substitute any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or cure any serious or life-threatening medical disorder. It aims to stimulate the body’s own healing process in order to keep it in homeostasis or a balanced state.
How does it work?
Reflexology works on the principle that the whole body, from head to toe, is connected. This means that the pain in your head has a link to your toe. This connection is represented by 10 longitudinal zones, five each on the left and right side of the body. These zones run front to back and head to toe, and are most accessible via the feet. Each part of the hand or foot is a different ‘reflex area,’ which connects to a particular part of the body. When you manipulate a particular area of the foot or hand, the corresponding organs in that zone benefit.
Reflexology is akin to a messaging service—when we apply specific pressure to a section of the foot, it sends a positive message along the zone. For example, working the heart reflex point on the foot will release blocked energy in the heart zone. It will not only stimulate the heart, but also all other organs and parts in the zone.
Reflexologists use their thumbs and fingers to look for areas of tenderness in the reflexes, which signal a problem in the corresponding part of the body. They then work on the area accordingly. Some reflexologists also look for crystal deposits [a granular texture under the surface of the skin] indicating a problem area and work on the reflexes to remove the build-up of crystals. Studies have shown reflexology to improve physical and emotional health, increase concentration, self-esteem, confidence and the ability to stay motivated.
Who can benefit?
Reflexology is suitable for all. It is a therapy that can be performed on almost everybody, irrespective of age and physical condition of the individual. It helps relieve stress and tension and has a deep relaxing effect.
Reflexology improves blood circulation and also betters body’s waste and toxin elimination. It releases trapped nervous energy and improves neural efficiency.
Several individuals use reflexology to relax the mind and body. It is proved to be effective in:
- Stress-related conditions
- Sleep disorders
- Back pain
- Sleep disorders
- Digestive disorders
- Hormonal imbalances
What happens in a reflexology session?
According to Chinese medicine, the soles of the feet hold the sensory nerves of the internal organs that are spread through the body.
During reflexology session, the therapist applies manual pressure to the feet, working on specific points that connect with different zones in your body. Pressure is then applied to particular areas of the soles of the feet. Deposits and imbalances are sought out and released in order to remove blockages and restore the flow of blood and energy.
Reflexology uses hands, fingers, a wooden stick, cream, and oils to stimulate a reflex action in another part of the body. When properly practiced, reflexology gives a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.
Is it safe for everyone?
If you have a heart condition, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure or kidney problems, you should consult your physician before embarking on a course of reflexology.Pregnant [especially in the first trimester] or menstruating women and those bleeding either internally or externally should not do reflexology.
Reflexology massage can be given every day but only for a duration of 45 – 60 minutes. You may begin to experience a positive difference after a couple of treatments. Occasionally people report nausea, tearfulness or lethargy after a reflexology session. This is part of the healing process. It is important that you report such feelings to your reflexology therapist so that s/he can alter your treatment plan accordingly.
Don’t go for reflexology for at least one hour after meals. As with most massage therapies, drink plenty of water after treatment.
Reflex area chart
The body is reflected on the feet or hands. Left foot / hand reflects the left side of the body and the right foot / hand the right side. The spine reflex area runs down the insides of the foot and hand with reflex areas for the arm and shoulder reflected toward the outside of the foot or hand. The toes and fingers correspond head and neck reflex areas as well as those of the internal parts of the body they enclose. The ball of the foot mirrors the chest and upper back in addition to the heart and lungs. The base of the long bones of the feet and hands represent the waistline of the body. Portions of the body above its waistline are mirrored above this line toward the toes or fingers and those below the waistline toward the heels of the foot or hand. 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.