Foot reflexology is far more than just a relaxing massage. It’s a centuries-old practice rooted in Chinese medicine that involves applying pressure to certain areas of the feet to produce changes in other parts of the body. Today, I’m going to share everything you need to know about foot reflexology so you can determine if it’s something you’d like to try. Let’s get into it!
Who discovered foot reflexology?
While the roots of reflexology go back to ancient Egypt and China, William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose and throat doctor, introduced the concept of “zone therapy” in 1915. Eunice Ingram, an American physiotherapist, further developed the zone theory in the 1930s into the modern version of reflexology used today.
How does foot reflexology work?
The underlying theory behind foot reflexology is that there are certain points or “reflex areas” on the feet that are connected energetically to specific organs and body parts. According to those who practice reflexology (a.k.a. reflexologists), applying pressure to reflex areas removes energy blockages and promotes health and healing in the related body part. Here are some examples of reflex areas and their corresponding body parts:
- The tips of the toes correspond to the head.
- The ball of the foot corresponds to the heart and chest.
- The the arch of the foot corresponds to the liver, pancreas, and kidneys.
- The heel corresponds to the low back and intestines.
Foot reflexologists also state that applying pressure to reflex points helps to balance the
nervous system and stimulate the release of endorphins, which reduces pain and stress.
Why do people get foot reflexology?
There are so many pressure points on your foot and since each point is connected to another part of the body, reflexology is said to address a wide array of conditions and symptoms. Here are some common conditions that people use foot reflexology to address:
- tension headaches and migraines
- digestive disorders
- hormonal imbalances
- sports injuries
- menstrual disorders
- multiple sclerosis
- chronic pain
- mental health issues
- post-operative pain
What are the benefits of foot reflexology?
While more large-scale studies are needed to determine the effects of foot reflexology on various medical conditions, people have turned to this ancient form of bodywork for years for its potential to promote relaxation, improve wellness, and relieve pain. Below are the top benefits that can potentially result from practicing foot reflexology:
- aids in relaxation and stress relief
- regulates the nervous system
- improves circulation
- increases energy levels
- decreases pain levels
- improves mood
- alleviates swelling
What to expect from a foot reflexology session?
A foot reflexology session typically lasts an hour, but can be longer. After inquiring about your health complaints, the practitioner will begin the treatment. While it might feel like a foot massage, it’s way more targeted. Following a foot reflexology chart, the practitioner will use their thumb and other fingers or a small massage ball to apply pressure to certain areas of the foot. While some spots may be more tender and sore, foot reflexology shouldn’t be painful. If you feel any pain, be sure to let your practitioner know. Most people, however, find that the experience is quite relaxing.
You can also recreate this experience at home by giving yourself a reflexology massage. While you won’t have the expertise of a trained professional, it still may offer some benefit and induce relaxation. Using a foot reflexology chart, experiment with pressing, squeezing, or gently kneading the areas—whatever feels good.
Should I try foot reflexology?
Several studies indicate that foot reflexology may reduce pain and psychological symptoms, such as stress and anxiety, while enhancing relaxation and sleep. While more research needs to be conducted regarding its effects on other conditions, there’s no harm in trying it to see how it works for you. While some people occasionally experience side effects like nausea or mood swings, there are no known risks of foot reflexology.
The bottom line
From pain relief to improved circulation, root reflexology is a safe, gentle practice that may be helpful in reducing troublesome symptoms and improving your well-being. Whether you choose to visit a trained reflexologist or practice on yourself, foot reflexology is a great tool for improving your mental and physical health.