The healing art of what we call Reflexology dates back to 5,000 BC where we understand that it was practiced in ancient India, Egypt and China. Trade routes between these countries, their Asian neighbors and eventually the West during the Middle Ages brought a wealth of knowledge about many ancient healing practices. Reflexology is one of the oldest surviving healing techniques still practiced today.
According to author Mark Beck, “…reflexology is based on the principles that reflex points in the hands and feet are related to every other organ in the body. By applying pressure to a reflex point, the practitioner can effect certain beneficial changes.” (Beck 776)
How Does It Work?
Neuro-lymphatic Reflexes located throughout the body including the hands and feet help to normalize, balance and encourage homeostasis within the body when properly stimulated. There are several forms of reflexology, but foot reflexology is the most common form taught and practiced today.
Reflexology is holistic wellness technique affecting multiple systems and functions including; the lymphatic system, the endocrine system, the circulatory system, the meridian system, the nervous system and the proprioceptive system. (Stone 18)
Benefits of Reflexology
· Reflexology relieves stress by eliciting the relaxation response. (Wright 14)
· Reflexology is a clothed therapy and is a perfect alternative for individuals who do not feel comfortable having massage.
· Reflexology is non-invasive or non-painful.
· Reflexology benefits people of all ages.
· Reflexology improves overall function of the body and is a holistic form of therapy.
· Reflexology teaches and promotes healthy body awareness.
· Reflexology improves circulation of blood and lymph and benefits nerve function. (Wright 30)
· Reflexology is helpful for painful conditions of the feet and/or hands.
· Hand and Foot Reflexology is perfectly suited for self-care.
· Reflexology sessions of the hands and/or feet affect both hemispheres of the brain. (The right hand or foot is dominantly controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain and left hand or foot the right hemisphere).
Contrary to popular belief, Reflexology does not have to hurt to be effective in fact the opposite is true. Working with the body’s reflexes without creating pain allows the body to sense dysfunction and make internal adjustments that are noticed as healing.
When a Reflexology session is given without pain it creates a more optimal learning situation for the body. Non-invasive therapy means that there should be no pain involved.
Reflexology Reference Charts
There are many different versions of foot and hand reflexology charts. There is even an interactive version for your phone. Reflexology charts will enable you to map the reflexes, but If you are interested in doing Reflexology as a hobby or even a profession taking a live course or two will enable you to work with the reflexes with confidence.
A basic Reflexology course should help the student to:
· Understand the contraindications (precautions)
· Learn the benefits of Reflexology
· Understand how to give a therapeutic Reflexology sessions
Beck, Mark F. Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage 4th Edition. New York; Thomson Delmar Learning. 2006.
Stone, Paula S. Therapeutic Reflexology, A Step-by-Step Guide to Professional Competence. Boston; Pearson Education Inc. 2011.
Wright, Janet. Reflexology and Acupressure: Pressure Points for Healing. CRES Publishing. 2000.
About Kim Krost
Kim Krost is owner of Integrative Healing Institute® in San Antonio Texas. She is a licensed massage therapist and massage therapy instructor teaching a variety of wellness classes including Reflexology. In addition to management of the Institute she has maintained a holistic bodywork practice since 1999 using Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, Reflexology and Natural Reflex Therapy®, a technique she co-created that helps to balance endocrine system function in the body.