Did you know that your feet can talk?
It’s true—in the sense that they can tell a reflexologist—a trained practitioner of an ancient version of massage therapy—where your body needs healing.
Better still, they can also be part of the cure for whatever ails you.
Reflexology is thousands of years old. Like acupuncture, meditation, and many other integrative medical practices—i.e., health and healing with no surgery or powerful drugs—it originated in Asia. It also appears in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
And people still practice it. So it must work!
How reflexology works to identify and heal health problems
Reflexology’s underlying premise is that there are parts of our feet and hands that are connected to, and “communicate” with, all our major organs and glands. When a reflexology foot or hand masseuse puts pressure on those areas, the organs and glands respond, and if needed, begin to heal themselves.
How does it work? Well, stress, for example, causes muscles to tighten up, arteries and veins to constrict—lots of negative responses. Pressure on the corresponding part of your foot or hand can improve circulation in those tight spots, increasing the flow of nutrients, hormones, and other health-keeping compounds.
Conversely, if you have a sore or sensitive spot on your foot or hand, it tells the reflexologist that a problem exists in the corresponding part of your body.
What conditions can reflexology help?
As a treatment for an identified health problem, reflexology is used to treat (partial list):
- Ongoing (chronic) pain, especially cancer-related pain
- Chest pain (angina)
- Back pain
- Headache and muscle ache
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder
- Sinus conditions
- Multiple sclerosis
And ladies, reflexology can relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS and improve the flow of breast milk when you’re nursing.
More good news? If you’re in good health and feel fine, reflexology will help keep you in good health and feeling even more fine—studies strongly suggest that reflexology reduces anxiety and can even help fight off depression.
Reflexology is based on a concept virtually identical to that of widely practiced therapies like acupuncture, acupressure, and qi gong—that stress and disease cause constrictions in tissues that prevents or impedes the flow of our natural, healing “bio-energy.”
Yet reflexology, like other alternative therapies before it, still has its critics. These tend to be scientists and physicians who want hard-core scientific data that prove the concept.
Who should go for reflexology?
Answer: Anyone and everyone, after consultation with your doctor.
In a recent University of Portsmouth study, called the first scientific test of reflexology as a treatment for acute pain, reflexology reduced the pain of keeping one hand submerged in ice water (ouch) by 40 per cent, and helped subjects tolerate the pain for 45 per cent longer than subjects not treated with reflexology. The research suggests that reflexology can be a welcome complementary practice in treating acute pain.
I would advise anyone with any sort of pain to seriously consider reflexology. If you have headache, migraine, or any of the conditions I listed above, consult your doctor about it.
Another first-time study—of reflexology to complement standard cancer treatment—observed women undergoing chemotherapy or hormonal therapy for advanced-stage breast cancer. Some were given reflexology treatments, others not. The Michigan State University-led study found that reflexology helped cancer patients manage their pain-related symptoms and perform daily tasks better than those who weren’t treated.