Reflexology. All you need to know
Have you always been interested in this therapy art or is it completely new to you? This article will explore reflexology therapy in more detail. It will highlight the uses of reflexology, the benefits it provides, the role of a reflexologist and what to expect from a session.
What is Foot Reflexology?
Reflexology, also known as zone therapy (you want to start with an easy explanation video? click here: video reflexology), is a non-intrusive supportive health massage therapy that expects to stimulate and massage certain areas of the hands, ears and feet. Its aim is to relieve stress and tension and eventually encourage healing; it is also prescribed to improve general health and the person well-being.
It is a massage technique used to remove tension and treat sickness, referring to the fact that there are reflex points on the hands, lower leg, feet, head and face connected to every part of our bodies through our nervous system.
This art consists of applying pressure to the hands and feet with specific finger, hand, and thumb techniques, with or without using lotion or oil. It is based on a system of reflex areas and zones that, as stated before, reflect a picture of the body on the hands and feet, causing a positive physical change to the body thanks to the applied work.
The aim of the reflexologist is to target specific areas of pain and tension: to stimulate the energy flow and send signals through the body he will apply pressure to certain reflexes. There is a specific relation between each reflex area and the area of the body they affect.
Here are some examples. The right side of the body is linked to the right side of the foot; the head connects to the tips of the toes; the arch of the foot corresponds to the liver, pancreas and kidneys; while the heel can be stimulated through the lower back and intestines.
But the most interesting part is the astonishing fact that on the feet there are reflexes that are connected to every part of the body: they are arranged in a way to form a complete map of the person. The whole right side of the body can be found on the right foot and vice versa. Foot reflexology takes advantage of the fact of having the whole body represented on a smaller scale on a fixed specific zone: the foot. This explains why it is so powerful and effective, treating the body as a whole. It allows to treat to only the symptoms, but also their related specific causes.
We recently found out that the ancient Chinese and Egyptians were already practising this technique in a similar manner: for what we know it’s been uses for thousands of years.
People who take advantage of reflexology sessions agree that the method is an extremely relaxing therapy which can reduce tension and lead to an improved sense of well-being.
What happens when I go for a treatment?
Before your first treatment, your full medical history will be requested: this information will obviously be kept confidential. You will be asked to remove most of your clothing and the reflexologist will ask you to lay down on a massage bed.
The therapist will then use their hands to apply pressure to your hands, feet, lower leg, ears or face, depending on the type of reflexology that better fits your case. You may feel temporary discomfort on certain areas during the treatment, but the experience as a whole should result in relaxation. The therapist may recommend to come back again for a course of treatments, to assure long-lasting beneficial effects.
After a reflexology massage, how will I feel?
It’s good to leave feedbacks to the massage therapist as this may reveal the answer of your body to the provided treatments. This in turn can help the reflexologist to tailor a treatment plan specific to solve your problems. After one or two treatments your body should respond in a very noticeable way.
Sometimes people report feeling lethargic, nauseous or tearful during the treatment: however, this is usually transitory and reflexologists reckon that it is part of the healing process, because 95% of patients report a general sense of well-being and relaxation after only a couple of treatments.
Is reflexology the solution I am looking for?
Foot reflexology is a treatment suitable for everyone regardless their age, either for new-born babies to those receiving end of life care, but also everyone in between. However, there may occasionally be cases when providing a treatment may not be the best option. The best advice we can give you is to ask a professional reflexologist: he or she will be more than happy to provide the best answer to your requests.
Will reflexology help get over my problems?
Forced to face more and more stressing life situations in modern life, we need to remember to take more responsibility in taking care of our own health situation. Reflexology may be one of the ways to mitigate the stresses of everyday life.
The thing is that reflexology helps the body to restore its balance without forcing it to do so. Usually, after a treatment tension may be reduced and you should feel relaxed. You will also notice yourself sleeping more peacefully and your mood and sense of wellbeing will result improved. You should also find that other aspects get better too; however, this varies from person to person.
Reflexology is a very individual targeted treatment which is tailored just for you and no one else, taking into account both physical and non-physical factors that might be affecting your health wellbeing. The best way to find out the best treatment for you is to try it!
What will I get from a reflexology treatment?
When first visiting a Reflexology massage therapist, a detailed medical history will be requested. The patient will then be seated in some form of recliner chair or similar sitting position and will be asked to remove the shoes and socks.
The practitioner will initially examine the feet before commencing with the precise massage movement. The particular type of massage involved requires the application of a firm pressure using the side and end of the thumb. In some instances, the fingers may also be employed. All areas on both feet will be massaged.
Areas corresponding to parts of the body which are out of balance will feel uncomfortable or tender when massaged and the degree of tenderness will indicate the degree of imbalance. The sensitivity of the feet varies from person to person and the trained practitioner will understand the correct pressure to apply and how to interpret the tenderness’s felt. The massage should not be very uncomfortable to even the most sensitive of feet.
The full treatment session will last approximately three-quarters of an hour and at the end of a session the feet should feel warm and the patient relaxed. The number of treatment sessions required will vary depending on the condition being treated.
During the therapy, it is sometimes possible that the eliminating systems of the body become more active in order excrete the unwanted toxic matter from the body. However, if treatment is correctly applied by the therapist, these reactions should not be too intense.
How often should I get a treatment?
If you want reflexology to help you solve a specific condition and wish to feel the full benefits of the treatment, then a course of regular sessions is what we advise. You will probably get a treatment plan after your first session if you wish to continue. Your state of health, age, the nature of your condition and how long you have had it will all be taken into consideration.
When was reflexology developed?
While the art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, this therapy was not introduced to the West until Dr William Fitzgerald developed the Zone Therapy. He believed that reflex zones on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same area.
In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is today known as reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in its corresponding part of the body.
So how does reflexology actually work?
As we mentioned before, reflexology therapies aim to holistically restore equilibrium to the body. This is achieved by applying pressure to certain areas of the hands, feet and ears. Reflexologists don’t claim to prescribe, diagnose or cure. They aim to offer a tailored, alternate means of healing to address each individual’s specific needs.
Emotional and physical factors are taken into account if the reflexologist thinks they might be affecting a person’s health and well-being. They will locate areas on the feet where they can use specific hand movements, thumb techniques and apply pressure to encourage energy stimulation. This energy flows through the body’s energetic pathways to the targeted areas of the body.
Studies show that people generally report positive experiences following treatment. Many feel that reflexology promotes reduced levels of anxiety and tension. Some have even reported an improvement in physical symptoms. However, this tends to vary between each of us.
What can reflexology do for you?
Reflexology is a popular alternative therapy that is considered to have a range of purposes. Some of the most common uses of reflexology include:
- Stress healing – Studies suggest that reflexology can help alleviate the negative effects that stress has on the body.
- Relaxation – The therapy pushes your body and mind to get into a deeper relaxed state.
- Reduce discomfort of your tired feet – The movements and special hand techniques can help to ease tension and pain in the feet.
- Soothing pain – Research suggests that the treatments is an effective pain reliever.
- Improving circulation – Reflexology helps break down cholesterol deposits in the blood stream which can compromise circulation.
- Enhancing overall well-being – Many people use the therapy on a regular basis to support a healthy lifestyle.
Modern life is increasingly demanding and stressful. Reflexology can be effective in helping to relieve daily stress situations and keep up with good health and well-being. Remember that reflexology is a complementary therapy, so it should be used in combination with a doctor.
Uses of reflexology also extend to post-operative or palliative care. It is a popular therapy among cancer patients who find it helpful for relaxation and relief. For many patients undergoing intensive medical treatments, reflexology will help to boost emotional well-being.
What to expect from a session?
Reflexology therapy sessions are pretty straightforward and easy to attend. A typical treatment lasts from 45 minutes up to an hour and starts with a consultation about your health and current lifestyle. Your reflexologist therapist will discuss your medical history to establish any seek possible health problems. He or she will also ask you what you wish to obtain from the reflexology therapy you are about to receive.
You will then be asked to take your shoes and socks off before being seated comfortably in a massage table or on a reclining chair. Your reflexologist will begin an initial exam of the feet before taking on the treatment. They will begin by heating up the feet by applying pressure from the toes to the heel to make you feel more comfortable. Firm specific hand and finger movements will then be used to identify areas of tension or tenderness.
Reflexology is not painful at all; however, some areas of the foot may feel more tender than other ones. This will depend on what area of the body they are linked with. Sensitivity will vary between each of us, and a reflexologist will set the amount of pressure applied accordingly. Your feet will feel warm and you will experience a general feeling of peace and relaxation. You may even feel sleepy after a session.
The hours of reflexology sessions you will require will be determined on the condition being treated. Your therapist will be able to discuss this with you and conceive the best treatment plan.
You may experience the beneficial calming effects of reflexology after just one session, but it usually takes longer to notice benefits in other parts of your body. Most people find their sleeping circle and moods get better over the course of a few sessions. This will, however, differ between each one of us
What to do after a session?
To gain the full benefits of reflexology, it is recommended to strictly follow the following advice for the 24 hours coming after the treatment:
- Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated: this will improve energy levels and excrete toxins
- Avoid exercise that requires great effort and rest for at least two hours after the therapy
- Avoid drinks such as alcohol, tea and coffee. These can decrease the effectiveness of the therapy
- Stick to a light, healthy diet to enable your body to heal (you should ask a nutritionist or a doctor if you are not sure which food is best for you)
- Take a note about any possible reactions you notice: you will report them during your next session.
To find out more about foot reflexology, read this other article we published: Foot massage: how to re-establish energy equilibrium
We’ve prepared a few step by step demonstration videos to let you discover how to immediately put these techniques into practise.
You’ll find all the materials clicking on the green button below:
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