Reflexology is a holistic therapy which uses specific points on the feet to diagnose and treat illnesses. Reflexologists believe that our feet are a mirror of our health – and that every part of the body has a corresponding point on the foot. By stimulating these points, blockages in energy are said to be released, and the flow brought back into balance. This in turn stimulates the body’s natural healing powers.
How Does Reflexology Work?
Reflexologists believe that waste products that haven’t been properly eliminated can crystallise in our feet, around the nerve endings where they can cause swelling. A reflexologist can feel these deposits when examining your feet, and their presence is supposed to point to a problem in the related zone.
Putting pressure on the point of the foot which is showing a blockage crushes the crystals so that they are easier for the lymphatic system to remove naturally.
What Can Reflexology Do?
Practitioners say that the therapy works on nearly all health problems, but it’s usually recommended for:
- Anxiety and stress
- asthma and sinus problems
- menstrual problems, PMS and infertility
According to practitioners, reflexology can benefit almost anyone. Even if you don’t have an illness that needs treating, it’s also a way of relaxing, balancing and harmonising the body.
A session will start with the reflexologist looking at the general appearance of your feet, including their overall shape and condition. They might wipe your feet with essential oils diluted in warm water, before using their finger tips and knuckles to massage the reflex points. If they find a crystal, they tend to work on it to try and break it down – which can feel a little uncomfortable.
Any points where a blockage has been picked up will be noted and worked on at future sessions – it can take a few treatments to break down stubborn deposits.
Does Reflexology Work?
There haven’t been many large scale clinical trials on reflexology. One American trial in 1993 looked at 35 women, who reported that reflexology reduced their PMS symptoms by 41%, and another Danish trial in 1999 followed over 200 people suffering with tension headaches and migraine. The Danish trial reported that reflexology was effective at relieving symptoms for 81% of cases.
Some sceptics don’t accept the idea that specific areas on the foot are related to other parts of the body. Testing this theory, researchers at the University of Exeter found that when reflexologists were prevented from actually speaking to their patients, they were unable to diagnose six common conditions just by using points on the feet.
What Should I be Aware Of?
Always consult a GP if you have a medical problem, and don’t rely exclusively on the advice of a reflexologist.
- Don’t have a reflexology session for the first three months of pregnancy.
- Speak to your doctor before having a reflexology session if you suffer from any thyroid disorder, diabetes or any chronic health problem.
- Tell the reflexologist if you are taking and other medicines, as reflexology can potentially interfere with drugs.
Finding a Reputable Practitioner
Reflexology is an unregulated profession and so anyone can call themselves a reflexologist. Some reflexology organisations have started to work towards self-regulation. If you’re looking for advice on a reflexologist, the Association of Reflexologists can help put you in touch with an accredited practitioner through its website:
Reflexology can have powerful results if you persevere with the treatment – sometimes it can take a few sessions to really clear out any blockages and get your system back into action. It’s actually quite pleasant, even if you think you are too ‘ticklish’ to have your feet massaged, and a very relaxing treatment, too.