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Answers From a Massage Therapist, part 3: What is Reflexology?

Many people haven’t heard of Reflexology massage, or if they have, they know it as a foot massage. Reflexology is much more than just a foot rub and I’m excited to share more about it today. The definition of Reflexology is: The practice of manipulating reflex areas in the feet, hands and ears. These reflex areas correspond to specific body parts and organs.

From ancient texts, illustrations, and artifacts dating back as far as 2500 B.C., we know that the early Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Russians, and Egyptians worked on the feet to promote good health. Because of the appearance of foot work in so many ancient cultures very removed from each other, it seems that the relationship between the feet and areas of the body must have been recognized by civilizations since before recorded history.

Around the turn of the century, Dr. William Fitzgerald used the theory of energy pathways as a basis for a method called “zone therapy”. Even though it gained some popularity with doctors and produced good results, there was still resistance from much of the medical community because science wasn’t able to demonstrate why it worked. In the 1930’s Eunice Ingham, a therapist in a physician’s office, became intensely interested in exploring zone therapy further.

Eunice discovered and worked on tender areas of the foot and kept track of the effects this had on the other areas of the body. Over time, she was able to systematically map out the zones of the feet in relation to the organs and the rest of the body. She even found that not only did the treatment reduce pain but it also had a healing effect on illnesses. After years of experimenting, she compiled her experiences into a book and named her method “Reflexology”.

So how does Reflexology work? Our bodies respond to the environment through reflexes. The eyes blink when dust blows. Muscles tense when we are startled. Similarly, Our bodies also have less visible reflexes which work to protect and maintain balance. Reflexology supports the premise of a relationship between areas of the hands and feet to specific parts of the body. Study results indicate that manipulation of the feet definitely affects other body parts and functions through stimulation of the nervous system.

These are some of the many benefits of Reflexology massage:

  • Relaxation- assists in relaxation of the body and reduction in stress and tension
  • Detox- Helps the body rid itself of toxins stored in muscle tissue and organs
  • Circulation- Increases circulation of blood and lymph fluid
  • Nerves- improves nerve supply
  • Homeostasis- Assists the natural ability of the body to balance and heal itself
  • Energy- Increases available energy by revitalizing organs and glands
  • Prevention- serves and preventative health care
  • Non-Invasive- provides therapy in a non invasive way that is helpful for chronic or acute conditions that may not be able to be addressed by other therapies
  • Efficiency- Efficiently addresses ALL the systems of the body working on a smaller area for a shorter amount of time
  • Simplicity- Provides simple, yet powerful techniques that anyone can learn and use!
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