What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a type of therapy that uses gentle pressure on specific points along your feet (and possibly on your hands or ears as well) to help you feel better. The theory is that these ease stress, and that helps your body work better. It’s also known as zone therapy.
How does it work?
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Reflexology rests on the ancient Chinese belief in qi (pronounced “chee”), or “vital energy.” According to this belief, qi flows through each person. When a person feels stressed, their body blocks qi.
- This can cause an imbalance in the body that leads to illness. Reflexology aims to keep qi flowing through the body, keeping it balanced and disease free.
- In Chinese medicine, different body parts correspond with different pressure points on the body. Reflexologists use maps of these points in the feet, hands, and ears to determine where they should apply pressure.
- They believe their touch sends energy flowing through a person’s body until it reaches the area in need of healing.
- Other Theories
- In the 1890s, British scientists found that nerves connect the skin and internal organs. They also found that the body’s entire nervous system tends to adjust to outside factors, including touch.
- A reflexologist’s touch may help to calm the central nervous system, promoting relaxation and other benefits just like any form of massage.
- Others believe that the brain creates pain as a subjective experience. Sometimes, the brain reacts to physical pain. But in other cases, it may create pain in response to emotional or mental distress.
- Some believe that reflexology can reduce pain through calming touch, which may help to improve someone’s mood and reduce stress.
- Zone theory is another belief that some use to explain how reflexology works. This theory holds that the body contains 10 vertical zones. Each zone contains different body parts and corresponds to specific fingers and toes.
- Practitioners of the zone theory believe that touching these fingers and toes allows them to access every body part in a particular zone.
What are the potential benefits?
- So far, there’s limited evidence that reflexology may help to:
- reduce stress and anxiety
- reduce pain
- lift mood
- improve general well-being
- In addition, people have reported that reflexology helped them:
- boost their immune system
- fight cancer
- get over colds and bacterial infections
- clear up sinus issues
- recover from back problems
- correct hormonal imbalances
- boost fertility
- improve digestion
- ease arthritis pain
- treat nerve problems and numbness from cancer drugs (peripheral neuropathy)