Reflexology has been used for centuries. It is thought to have been developed originally by the ancient Egyptians. It is one of the most popular types of complementary therapy in the UK among people with cancer.
Reflexology means applying pressure and massage to areas on your feet and hands. The feet are the most common area to treat. According to reflexologists, you have reflex areas in your feet that match every part of your body. Therapists claim that there is a map of the left side of your body on your left foot, and the right side of your body on your right foot. For example, your left big toe represents the left side of your head, and a point around the ball of your right foot represents your right lung. These maps can vary a little between different branches of reflexology.
The ancient Chinese practice of reflexology, a manual therapy focusing on the feet, has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity as a modern holistic therapy to relieve pain and stress.
Reflexologists believe that different areas on your feet and hands correspond to other parts of your body, and massaging them stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to heal itself.
Reflexology is based on the Chinese principle that certain areas on the soles of your feet or hands – known as reflex zones – containing millions of nerve endings, correspond to other parts of the body.
Around 3,000 years ago, Asian practitioners were massaging hands and feet applying pressure to certain points to stimulate organs, nerve endings and energy pathways to promote health,’ says O’Connell.Though reflexology works on different principles to Western medicine, and there is little scientific evidence to back up its effectiveness, my clients say that their general health and wellbeing improves.
The Chinese believe that reflexology stimulates the body into healing itself by improving circulation, reducing stress, pain and restoring natural balance. A therapist may massage your big toe and ankle to calm your endocrine and reproductive system, helping relieve PMS or menopausal symptoms.’
How can reflexology help you?
Everyone has the ability to self-heal, which is a natural function each living thing has. Sometimes we develop blockages or areas of stubborn energy that simply need ‘unblocking’ or need encouragement to clear. During a reflexology treatment, the client often relaxes allowing energy pathways to clear by manipulation of the reflex points in the feet. Depending on the length of the complaint, depends on how quickly energy is released, sometimes it may take many sessions to finally unravel the complicated knots we knit for ourselves. Do not expect your body to reach homeostasis (state of equilibrium) in just one session, though sometimes it does happen!
How reflexology works
There is no scientific evidence to support the use of reflexology as a treatment for cancer. Reflexologists believe that having your feet pressed and massaged in a systematic way stimulates the corresponding organs in your body. This releases your body’s natural healing powers and restores health. A reflexologist will gently press your feet to assess your state of health. Pressing these areas is thought to start the healing process, working on energy pathways similar to those used in acupuncture.
A sharp or tender feeling (or what reflexologists sometimes describe as a crunchy sensation) can indicate that an area of your body is out of balance. Therapists think that you become ill when energy pathways are blocked, and unblocking them can restore energy and balance.
Some people think that reflexology can help to
- Boost the immune system
- Fight off colds and bacterial infections
- Reduce sinus problems
- Reduce back problems
- Change hormonal imbalances
- Overcome infertility
- Reduce digestive problems