Reflexology is based on the principle that every organ and system of the body has a corresponding point in the feet and hands. It is thought to have been practised in Ancient Egypt, India and China. A wall painting in an Egyptian physician’s tomb that dates back to 2330 BC shows men working on people’s hands and feet, probably as a form of healthcare. North American Indians traditionally gave foot massage, and the Chinese combined reflexology with acupuncture points.
In the 1890s, Sir Henry Head carried out neurological studies which formed the scientific basis for reflexology. He discovered that parts of the spine and internal organs were linked with zones on the skin. He found that by stimulating the sole of the foot, the bladder could be roused into action. After further developments of the therapy over the years, it was Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist, who established reflexology as we know it today. She discovered that by using pressure on certain areas of the feet, she was able to stimulate and heal other parts of the body, and made a detailed chart of the reflexology points she found.
Reflexology is based on the theory that in every person, a vital energy or life force flows around the body, and when this becomes blocked, illness may occur; therefore unblocking this energy will restore wellbeing. Often an area of the hand or foot that relates to an imbalanced body part will feel ‘gritty’ or ‘pop’ – these are crystal deposits thought to be formed of calcium or uric acid. The deposits stick to the end of capillaries and nerve endings due to poor cell function, extreme stress or illness. During a reflexology treatment the feet will be thoroughly worked, and any problem areas will be boosted. Pressure is used on reflex points to release energy blockages, disperse calcium and uric acid deposits, stimulate blood circulation and promote healing of the body and mind. Reflexology can be used to help with specific complaints or as a preventative measure to help keep the mind and body in balance.
Reflexology has many benefits; it can aid relaxation, promote energy flow, detoxify the body, boost mood, and reduce stress. There is an increasing evidence base for reflexology, which has shown to be effective for back pain, headaches/migraine, infertility, arthritis, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, digestive problems, stress-related conditions, and more. Whilst nothing beats a professional reflexology treatment, it is easy to work reflex points on your own hands or feet using a chart; a qualified reflexologist will always be happy to advise you.