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Reflexology - The Ultimate Foot Therapy
What is Reflexology? Facts about Reflexology. The healing art of Reflexology, using foot reflexes to heal the mind and body
A definition of Reflexology: Reflexology (or Zone Therapy) is a natural healing art, based on the principle that stimulating reflex points on the feet, hands, or ears (termed reflex zones), can have a beneficial effect on some other part(s) of the body, or will improve general health. The most common form is foot Reflexology. The foot reflexologist applies pressure to points on a person's foot. The foot is believed by practicipants to be divided into a number of reflex zones corresponding to all parts of the body.
The origins of modern Reflexology evidently reach back to ancient Egypt as evidenced by inscriptions found in the physician’s tomb at Ankmahor at Saqqara in Egypt. The translation of the hieroglyphics are as follows: Don’t hurt me. The practitioner’s reply:- I shall act so you praise me.
We cannot determine the exact relationship between the ancient art as practiced by the early Egyptians and Reflexology as we know it today. Different forms of working the feet to effect health have been used all over the ancient world. Dr. Riley maintained that this form of healing spread from Egypt via the Roman Empire.
The Zone Theory was the precursor to modern Reflexology which began with Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, M.D. whom Dr. Edwin Bowers, M.D., encouraged to publish the many articles he had written on the subject of Zone Analgesia.
In the forward to their combined book, Relieving Pain At Home published in, 1917, he wrote, Humanity is awakening to the fact that sickness, in a large percentage of cases, is an error - of body and mind. How true this has proved to be. Dr. Fitzgerald, was an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist working at the Boston City Hospital, as well as at St Francis Hospital in Connecticut.
Dr. Fitzgerald discovered a very interesting fact, that the application of pressure on the zones not only relieved pain but in the majority of cases also relieved the underlying cause as well. The same result is experienced through Reflexology today, which is based partially on the Zone Theory. Dr. Shelby Riley, M.D. worked closely with Dr. Fitzgerald and developed the Zone Theory further. It seems that he added horizontal zones across the hands and feet, together with the longitudinal zones and thus determining individual reflexes according to the Zone Theory. He, like Fitzgerald, espoused continual pressure on the reflex or point of contact.
Eunice D. Ingham, a Physical Therapist, worked closely with Dr. Riley and was fascinated by the concept of Zone Therapy and started developing her foot reflex theory in the early 1930's. She had the opportunity to treat hundreds of patients where each reflex point of contact had been carefully and thoughtfully checked and rechecked until with all confidence she was able to determine that the reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body. Dr. Riley encouraged her to write her first book entitled Stories The Feet Can Tell where she documented her cases and carefully mapped out the reflexes on the feet as we know them today.
This book was published in 1938 and was later translated into seven foreign languages which spread the benefits of Reflexology way beyond the borders of the States. The confusion between Reflexology and Zone Therapy started at this point because the foreign publisher changed the name of Eunice’s book, The Stories The Feet Can Tell to Zone Therapy and in some parts of the world it is still thought of as Zone Therapy. However, there is a distinct difference between the two therapies.
Zone Therapy relies solely on the zones to determine the area to be worked, whereas Reflexology takes the zones as well as the anatomical model to determine the area or areas to be worked. After the publication of her book Eunice Ingham found herself on the program at many health seminars. She traveled around the country giving book reviews. Only sick and dilapidated people attended these book reviews/ seminars where she would teach people by working on them and discuss their particular health problems. As these sick people, whom everyone else had given up on, got better, the word spread and Reflexology became better known amongst the medical fraternity as well as lay people.
In the late 50's Dwight Byers started helping Eunice Ingham at her seminars. In 1961 Dwight Byers and his sister Eusebia Messenger, RN, joined their Aunt Eunice, teaching at seminars on a full time basis. Seven years later they became responsible for the continued teaching of Reflexology under the banner of The National Institute of Reflexology.
In the mid 70's Eusebia retired and Dwight Byers formed The International Institute of Reflexology®, where the theories and techniques of Reflexology were further refined. Eunice Ingham died in 1974 at the age of 85 still thoroughly convinced that Reflexology could aid in easing the suffering of mankind. She was on the road with that message until the age of 80.
Eunice Ingham made a unique contribution to the world of Reflexology. Some of the questions she answered now follow:
What is reflexology? Reflexology is the application of pressure, stretch and movement to the feet and hands to effect corresponding parts of the body. Reflexologists view the feet and hands as a mirror image of the body. By applying technique a reflexologist can break up patterns of stress in other parts of the body. Stress is a barrier to the body's return to a normal state of equilibrium.
How does reflexology work?
There are many theories but in our approach we look at the nervous system as the explanation of Reflexology's working. Pressure applied to the feet generates a signal through the peripheral nervous system. From there it enters the central nervous system where it is processed in various parts of the brain. It is then relayed to the internal organs to allocate the necessary adjustments in fuel and oxygen, Finally a response is fashioned that is sent onto the motor system. This message is feed forward to adjust the body's tone or overall tension level. If applied properly the tone will reset itself to a lower operating tempo. A lower operating tempo means a lessening of stress and less wear and tear on the body's systems.
Where do you apply technique?
We apply techniques to the feet and hands. There is a school of thought that also applies it to the ear, arguing it is also Reflexology. The techniques, however, are modified from auricular therapy, an acupuncture technique. It could be argued that all bodywork is reflexive therefore Reflexology. We find that the extremities have a powerful influence because of locomotion. While we acknowledge that repeated patterns exist throughout the body we find our most effective focus to be the feet and hands.
What are the benefits of reflexology?
In general terms the benefits of Reflexology have to do with the reduction of stress. Because the feet and hands help set the tension level for the rest of the body they are an easy way to interrupt the stress signal and reset homeostasis, the body's equilibrium. Whether Reflexology can benefit certain conditions and diseases in still under investigation. Further scientific study need to be done in order to come to some definite benefits of Reflexology in regard to illness and disease. Reflexology is a complement to standard medical care. It should not be construed as medical advice. It should not be a replacement to medical help. Please use it wisely. We care about your safety.
When should I do reflexology?
Reflexology can be done practically anytime and any where. The trick is consistency. The results from China look impressive. Their secret seems to be that they do Reflexology once a day for six days in two week segments. Then they review the results and do more segments as necessary. This requires self help and family help as well as the guidance of practitioners. The practitioner can give you a quality signal to break up the pattern of stress but you and your family can provide the quantity to help break it up. Build Reflexology into your life. It is easy to do Reflexology well doing other activities. Put a foot roller under your desk or work your hands while waiting for the kids at school. Be creative but be consistent. Five minutes a day is worth more than an hour once in awhile.
How can I learn more? Try one or more of these books:
Reflexology: The Definitive Practitioner's Manual
The Reflexology Handbook: A Complete Guide
Better Health with Foot Reflexology
Clinical Reflexology: A Guide for Health Professionals
Reflexology (Complete Illustrated Guide)
Reflexology: The 5 Elements and Their 12 Meridians - A Unique Approach
If you are looking for self help or to explore this fascinating subject, try one of our recommended titles.
Who does reflexology?
There are a variety of people doing reflexology from concerned parents to doctors in China. It is a useful tool for a variety of situations. Many professions have taken up reflexology from cosmetologists to nurses. Reflexology is now being introduced into hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's). It is even being considered for insurance reimbursement. There are full time professionals doing reflexology. I think the future looks bright for reflexology and the profession of reflexology.
What should I expect from a reflexology session?
Reflexology sessions in general last from 30 minutes to an hour. It is a clothed session with only the removal of shoes and socks as a requirement. (Some massage therapists add it as a part of a overall massage session so they will require the removal of additional clothing.) Reflexologist will use a chair and at times a table. Some do use oil. However, this is a tool that is debated within the profession. Dry technique is common. Reflexologists use pressure, stretch and movement to work through the foot methodically. The whole foot should be worked in most circumstances. Both feet should be covered as well.
The reflexologist should work within your comfort zone. Too much pressure can actually be harmful and could lead to injury. But personal preference is something you should communicate with your reflexologist. If you indicate that too much pressure is being used and the practitioner continues we suggest you stop the session. You should always have your wishes respected. Do not rely on a reflexologist for medical help. The reflexologist is limited to complementing medicine not replacing it. You should feel relaxation at the end of a session. How long that relaxation lasts is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the session. Make note of this. And tell your reflexologist your response to the session. This can be helpful information. Finally enjoy the session. Be careful that talking doesn't interfere with the relaxation effect. Discussing world politics is probably something best left to another time.
What does reflexology do?
For some sixty years, reflexologists have theorized about the effects on the body caused by reflexology. Since the publication of Eunice Ingham's Stories the Feet Can Tell in 1938, the mantra of the practice has been that reflexology relaxes tension, normalizes gland and organ function, and improves circulation. Recent research has upheld such contentions and shown reflexology to be effective in several other areas. A survey of reflexology research shows that reflexology work not only achieves results in these areas but also helps in other ways such as reduction of pain, improvement in effectiveness of medication, and avoiding side effects of drug therapy while achieving results.
Some of the recognized benefits of Reflexology
Please Note: The claims that follow are from studies that have been done over many years. Some studies are not scientifically monitored or scrutinized, though, many are. I can concur that many of these claims are indeed true, as my own case studies have demonstrated similar outcomes. Please remember, Reflexology is not a miracle cure and not everyone will respond in the same way. The following refers to a series of studies listed in Controlled Studies on Reflexology.
Reflexology normalizes gland and organ function
Women who have recently given birth lactate earlier and more satisfactorily when given foot reflexology
95% of women who experience amenorrhea find foot reflexology to be effective
Reflexology improves the symptoms of 46% of those suffering from PMS
Reflexology was found to be 87.5% of men experiencing impotence and 100% effective for other male sexual dysfunctions
Individuals who receive foot reflexology show an improvement in symptoms of hyperlipimia (cholesterol and monoglyceride)
Individuals who have received lithotrity (external mechanical impact on kidney or ureter stones) expel the fragmented stones more quickly with foot reflexology work
Symptoms of coronary heart disease (chest distress and angina) disappear in those receiving foot reflexology work as well as causing a drop in blood pressure of 25/5, results better than those achieved with medication
Not only do constipated individuals evacuate their bowels more quickly when receiving reflexology work but individuals with normal bowel function do also
The reflexology and foot massage control groups experienced a significantly greater reduction in baroreceptor reflex sensitivity, the mechanism that maintains blood pressure and homeostasis by changes in autonomic outflow
Children with cerebral palsy who received reflexology work showed an improved growth rate over those who did not
Mentally retarded children were shown to improve significantly in height, weight, health states, social living abilities, and intellectual development when receiving foot reflexology as opposed to those not receiving treatment
Individuals with cervical spondylosis were found to experience a higher clinical cure rate than those treated with traction
Foot reflexology work was found to decrease the free radicals present in test subjects
Reflexology reduces pain
Reflexology work reduces the pain of those with kidney and ureter stones
Reflexology reduced the pain of 66% toothache patients as well eliminating the symptoms of 26%
Reflexology reduces use of medication
19% of headache sufferers ceased taking medication following reflexology work
Reflexology aids recovery
Lithotrity (external crushing of kidney and ureter stones) patients experienced less pain, began excretion of stones earlier, and completed excretion earlier than those who did not receive reflexology work
Reflexology is safer than conventional treatment
Reflexology work was found to be more effective and safer than the standard treatment of catheterization in patients with uroschesis, retention of urine following surgery
Reflexology saves employer money
Reflexology saved one Danish employer US$3,300 a month in fewer sick days for employees in addition to improving the work environment
Reflexology indicators of disorder
The feet of mentally retarded children were found to be of abnormal colour and show abnormal shapes in toes as opposed to other children
Reflexology is an overall health enhancement, manual, complementary, biological, integrative health science, through which an exercise pressure is applied to reflex areas, formed by 7,200 nerve endings in each hand and foot, encouraging improved instruction to each and every single gland, organ and part of the body, Thus persuading the body to biologically correct, strengthen, and reinforce itself, to reach balance, normalization, and homeostasis. Thus, by working on one part of the body (foot area) there is an effect on another.
The goals of reflexology are to re-educate, re-pattern and re-condition the nerves through the neural/electrical system of the body. This will cause four reactions:
1. Stop further deterioration.
2. Persuade the body to biologically correct itself.
3. Strengthen and reinforce all systems in the body.
4. Continue the body's maintaining balance (good health).
What Reflexology does not do.
A Reflexologist is NOT a doctor.
A Reflexologist is NOT a massage therapist.
A Reflexologist NEVER prescribes or diagnoses.
A reflexology session is to be exclusively reflexology. It should NEVER incorporate any other professional practice during the reflexology session. Reflexology CANNOT cause health problems. There are NO contraindications with reflexology (except for physical problems like verucca or broken bones in the foot). Reflexology CANNOT give or take anything away from the body. Reflexology does not increase, decrease, replace, alter or over stimulate the body’s functioning abilities.
WHAT REFLEXOLOGY DOES? Reflexology allows the body to self-correct, and to do for itself. Every time a person has his/her feet worked on, it is an examination, an evaluation, or a re-evaluation. This is accomplished through first doing a visual observation, and then by applying an exercise pressure upon relax areas to achieve a specific, highly specialized relaxation in that area of the body. This improves the nerve, blood, and lymphatic supply.
The purpose of the nerves is to carry messages and instruct the body. When the nerves improve that instruct the body, the instruction has to improve, the body has to improve. Every nerve in the body begins and ends in the hands and feet. By applying this specialized exercise pressure on the foot, the outcome is improved instruction to each and every part of the body, resulting in a re-educating, a re-patterning, and a re-conditioning of the nerve instruction through the reflex/neutral electrical system of the body.
The purpose of the blood is to transport nutrition, glucose, and oxygen to all parts of the body. The blood travels approximately 168,000 miles per day to supply about 60 trillion cells in the body. The heart pumps about 100,000 times per day. It is in the hands and feet that blood transfers from arteries to veins to return back to the heart. This is the reason why the feet must be flexible and dexterous. Stress, which can be responsible for 80 percent to 90 percent of ailments, can act like a tourniquet, wrapping around the body, squeezing so tightly that it causes an impediment of blood flow which results in an ischemic condition. Since the capillaries feed the functioning part of the body, we are only as healthy as our capillaries. Again, by using this specific, highly specialized relaxation technique, reflexology is able to relax a specific area of the body enough to improve the blood supply to that area. This will then allow improved transportation of the nutrition, glucose and oxygen which that area of the body desperately needs to function or to regulate.
It is essential to remember that we are not only what we eat, we are what we supply to our cells, and then assimilate. The purpose of the lymphatic system is to cleanse and purify the body and lubricate the muscles. A healthy system is a cleansed system; congestion is disease. The absence of balance in the body is disease. The lymphatic system cannot cleanse or purify very well if it is weak, sick or congested. A healthy persons body will rid itself of at least eight pounds or toxic waste per day through the four channels of elimination: kidneys, bowels, skin and the breath. The lymph flows in one direction only, toward the heart; also every lymphatic vessel begins and ends in the hands and feet. By using this specific, highly specialized relaxation technique (Reflexology) we are persuading the body to correct, strengthen, and reinforce itself.
Imagine a healthy body that has a strong and well-toned nerve, blood and lymphatic supply. Reflexology, which is not invasive but persuasive, can enable the body to obtain and maintain this healthy condition. In essence, healthy, strong feet are attached to a healthy, strong body - Doctor Left Foot and Doctor Right Foot, if you will.
Different Laws of Reflexology Defined.
The law of evidence: Same as the method used by conventional medicine, dealing with the scientifically proven, that which is measurable by physicians; i.e. Glucose, blood pressure, etc. (Note: pain is not measurable.)
The law of the understood: The body has a built in self-correcting system.
The law of similars: Whatever is happening inside the body is identical and similar at the end of the nerves in both hands and the feet. In other words, the symptoms of swelling and tenderness anywhere in your body will be duplicated in that related foot reflex area to the same degree as manifested in the body.
REFLEXOLOGY- the Expert Facilitator of the Body. Professional techniques lie in expert evaluations and assessment by the practitioner: the ability to tie in the identity of the reflex area to that specific gland, organ, or single part of the body. A Reflexologist does not see just the hands and feet of a client; they see the entire body with the 12 systems mapped out in the hands and feet. The reflex area of the body is treated, not the disease or condition.
Proper tests would be conducted by the physician before the client begins reflexology and then again after a clients condition has improved, as evidenced by identical tests given by the medical professional, thereby establishing a documented case study. This is the proving scientific ground for reflexology, allowing it to receive the credit and status that it is due. Examples of this type of documentation can be found in the video, Golden Hand of Reflexology, by Telepo. Fortunately, the body as a whole is highly intelligent. Innately it knows what to do, how to circulate blood, how to maintain health, etc. Reflexology simply facilitates the different processes when a problem arises due to a person’s lifestyle.
It is a safe, no-risk, non-evasive but persuasive, highly effective therapy. Its success can be seen in many case studies. Hence a most logical conclusion would be that to maintain a healthy body Reflexology is a necessity not a luxury. In broad terms, Reflexology is one of the alternative healing arts and one of the modalitites which is considered bodywork. Reflexology is considered both an art and a science - an art beacuse the skill and technique of the practitioner can affect the result, and a science because it has a physiological and neurological basis. RAC supports the following definition: The art and science of reflexing the feet, hands and/or ears relative to maps and zones of the body with the practitioner applying pressure with the thumb and fingers. There are many definitions about reflexology as there are reflexologists.
Other organizations, authors and practitioners have described Reflexology in various books and articles and a sampling of their definitions are: Reflexology is a unique system of foot massage, based on holistic principles, which can treat and prevent a wide variety of ailments. By locating and massaging the Reflexology points on the foot, which relate to different parts of the body, we can redress the imbalance of energy that can cause stress and ill health.
I have made several modifications, but their copyright is acknowledged and retained.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.|
The Haven Healing Centre is located at: The Haven, Street End Lane, Blagdon, Bristol, BS40 7TW