Reflexology is an alternative therapeutic treatment based on the idea that areas of the feet, hands, and ears are connected to other areas of the body. According to reflexology, pressure applied to the right reflex points can correct problems with correlating body parts, organs and ones. For instance, a point on the arch of the foot may correspond with liver function. When pressure is applied to the reflex point on the foot, it will improve the liver functioning.
Reflexology is an ancient art. The precise date of origination is unknown, but there is evidence that it was a common healing treatment practiced 5,000 years ago in ancient Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Reflexology is coming back in vogue and is the top alternative medical treatment in Denmark, where it is incorporated into employee health programs (see Reference section).
Reflexologists use "maps" of the hands and feet to determine which body systems correspond with one another. The extremities are broken down into tiny color-coded sections on the map that make it clear which organs, valves and bones will be affected by applying pressure to certain areas.
There are maps for the feet, hands and the outer ears (see Reference section). For example, in the feet, the left foot corresponds to organs on the left side of the body, while the right side of the foot corresponds to the right side of the body. More specifically, the gallbladder is on the right side of the body, and therefore the reflex point is on the right side of the foot.
Reflexology is sometimes referred to as a massage, but it is not a massage in the typical sense of the word. Massage involves applying pressure over large sections of the body to target the muscular and circulatory systems. Reflexology, on the other hand, focuses on pointed, specific areas of the feet, hands and ears. It can target not only the main body systems that massage affects but also specific organs, like the liver, bladder and kidneys.
While a reflexologist can address specific conditions of the body, they cannot and should not attempt to diagnose disease. In fact, Bill Flocco, the Director of the American Academy of Reflexology, says it can be dangerous to use reflexology to diagnose a condition (see Reference section). This is because the reflex points on the body may already be strained or sore, and they, therefore, won't give a clear read of the body. This breakdown in response can be a result of regular wear rather than an issue with the body system that the point corresponds to.
Reflexology has a number of benefits. At its most basic level, it is a soothing experience that is helpful for stress-relief. If the specific reflex points are targeted correctly by a reflexologists, the benefits can be remarkable, including relief from migraines, circulatory and digestive issues, sinus problems and more. In general, any organ of the body with a correlating reflex point can be improved through regular reflexology treatments.
Reflexology massage treatments usually last between 30 and 60 minutes. Treatments can be performed as frequently as necessary, but most people choose to visit a reflexologist every two weeks for optimal health benefits.