What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is an alternative form of healthcare that involves working on the feet, hands and ears. It is based on the theory that there are specific reflex points in these areas that correspond to specific areas and systems in the rest of the body. The theory has parallels in traditional Chinese medicine, and other forms of energy healing arts that deal with maintaining the energy force (Qi, Chi, Prana, Bio-energy) that travels through the body.

There is documentation that in China, India and Egypt reflexology was practiced thousands of years ago. The oldest documentation is an Egyptian papyrus showing practitioners treating the feet and hands in 2,500 B.C. Zone therapy was developed in the 14th century in Europe. Dr. William Fitzgerald M.D., is credited with being the father of modern reflexology and introduced it to the western world in 1913 with what he titled “Zone and Pressure Therapy”. Later Eunice Ingham, a nurse and physiotherapist, mapped the entire body into reflexes on the feet and renamed “zone therapy” to “reflexology”.

Specifically, the science of reflexology is based on the theory that when the reflex points are stimulated the body’s natural electrical energy works along the nervous system to clear any blockages in the zones thus allowing for free flow of the life force through the body. Manipulation of the reflexes removes stress activating a parasympathetic (relaxational) response to enable the body to release the blockages. With the stress removed and with increased circulation the body then can returned to a proper state of homeostasis or balance.

Reflexology can benefit people of all ages from the newborn to the elderly. Although in a strict sense reflexology does not treat specific conditions it is designed to normalize the body and then allow the body’s own normal healing processes to take over there are some specific conditions that can be considered.  These conditions include but are not limited to stress and stress related conditions, tension headaches, digestive disorders, arthritis, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, sports injuries, menstrual disorders, back and foot pain.  The vast majority of people realize the benefits of stress reduction which in turn minimizes physical symptoms.

A typical reflexology session will last 45 to 60 minutes in duration. It will usually begin with a consultation about your health and any specific health concerns. You will then be asked to remove your shoes and socks and then you will be made to sit comfortably in a reclining chair or perhaps to lie down on a massage therapy table. The feet are then generally cleaned. The therapist will then begin to assess the feet and then applied various techniques to work on the feet. The sessions are not painful and are very pleasurable and relaxing.

Although the practice of reflexology is not a regulated health profession as regulated by the ministry of health, a certification process does exist. There is an Ontario College of Reflexology that helps to regulate the profession making sure that certain standards are maintained. To be a member of the college a certified reflexologist must have completed an accredited course. This course usually consists of 35 hours of in class instruction, 35 hours of independent study, and a 130 hour practicum usually consisting of working on 70 pair of documented feet. Finally, a written and practical exam must be completed.

During the treatment people often report achieving a very relaxed state. Some people do fall asleep and that is alright. The therapist will gently awaken them when the session has been completed. After the session, people feel a reduction in stress and report feeling very relaxed and refreshed. Many people will notice and feel a reduction in the symptoms mentioned previously.

Reflexology can be a very beneficial part of our healthcare regimen. If you are looking for a way to relieve stress, are suffering from one of the above conditions mentioned above or just looking for a way to enhance your state of health consider seeing a certified reflexologist.