Reflexology originated in China about 5,000 years ago. It may have also been used in India, Egypt and Babylonia.
So how does Reflexology actually work and what do your feet tell you?
This is a question I am often asked by clients and the truth is there is no simple answer! I believe it works on several different levels meaning the benefits can be both deep and wide ranging.
The basic theory behind reflexology is that the whole body can be mapped out on the feet, with different points (called reflex points) corresponding to different areas of the body. For example, the big toe correlating to the head. You may well have seen a foot map before.
By working on these points with various finger and thumb techniques, there is an indirect stimulation to that part of the body. This encourages the body to re-balance that part maybe by releasing tension or making it more active if it is sluggish. Note that the session is not a massage technique but more a specific pressure action.
For example, I often see people who have neck and shoulder tension, by working on the reflex points for neck and shoulders on their feet, it can encourage those areas to relax, allowing better movement and a reduction in pain. Slow digestion is also a common problem, so by working the stomach and bowel areas on the feet can encourage them to be more active and effective. People often find they need to toilet soon after a treatment!
However, this is not all! A full reflexology treatment also puts the body and mind into a state of deep relaxation. This switches us from the sympathetic nervous system (the stimulating, activity driving and, when extreme, fight or flight mode) to our parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and repair mode). When we are in this rest and repair mode our body focuses its energy on tissue repair, immunity, digestion and it promotes hormonal balance and better sleep. So in addition to focusing on specific problem areas, there is a whole body effect which promotes healing.
Last but not least, much like acupuncture and shiatsu, there is a theory that reflexology also helps to release blockages and restore the healthy flow of vital energy round the body.
Which leads me to my final point. That reflexology is a holistic therapy and most therapists work on the basis that there are several interdependent layers to a human being that all need to be in harmony for optimum mental and physical health. These layers are physical, energetic, mental, emotional and for some spiritual. When reflex points on the feet show up as being out of balance, it could be down to any of these layers and bringing that point back into balance may result in a release or change in any of these layers. So as well as physical improvements in my clients, I have also seen mental and emotional improvements. Often they are interlinked – a thought can lead to an emotion which can lead to a physical reaction. Or the reverse, a physical issue can cause an emotion which can affect your thinking. When we think of healing on these levels, there is the potential for big shifts in well being.
So as you see – there is no quick an easy answer to how does it reflexology work, but I hope you have a better understanding of this powerful and versatile therapy.