What is Reflexology?

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What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a lovely calming and relaxing complementary therapy in which a therapist used thumb and finger pressure (known as thumb/finger walking) to apply comfortable pressure to the clients feet and/or hands. Importantly, reflexology is a holistic therapy which means it aims to treat the whole person to provide physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It is a natural, non-invasive and drug free therapy which may be used alongside traditional medical care to support client health.

It is based on the principle that different areas on the feet (known as reflex points) correspond via the nervous system to different parts of the body. Reflexologists believe the feet are "mini-maps" of the body with each organ, gland, and structure having a reflex area on the foot. In fact your feet are very special with around 7000 nerve endings making them very sensitive! It is thought that calcium or uric acid deposits under the skin or tender areas on the feet are mirrored to imbalances in the corresponding part of the body. During a reflexology treatment, thumb and finger pressure is applied to these reflex points stimulating the release of any blockages. After your reflexology treatment, you will usually feel a sense of calm and relaxation with any prior tension lifted. This in turn will improve the blood and lymph circulation aiding the body in detoxifing more efficiently. By unblocking any imbalances, reflexology helps the body to return to balance (homeostasis) naturally and encourage self healing.

The History of Reflexology

A form of reflexology has been around for several thousand years. The earliest evidence dates back to around 2500BC with pictorial evidence in the Egyptian tomb of Ankhmahor (a physician) situated in Tet's pyramid at Saqqara. Throughout history other cultures such as the Chinese, Indians, Native American Indians and Japanese have understood and utilised the powerful affect of touch and applying pressure as a means of healing.

In the 1900s, Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American ear and nose specialist, developed "zone therapy". He discovered that by applying pressure to one part of the body you could anaesthetise another part of the body. He mapped the body into 10 zones and these zones provided the foundation for the development of reflexology.

In the 1930s, the pioneering work of Eunice Ingham, an American physiotherapist, led to the development of modern reflexology. Ingham decided to concentrate on the feet for several reasons: Firstly, there were points on the feet which lessened pain, secondly she recognised all nerves ended in the feet, and thirdly that the feet are very sensitive. Ingham used Fitzgerald's zones to help her map all the different structures, glands and organs which make up our bodies onto the feet. These charts are now used by reflexologists all over the world. The right foot corresponds to the right side of the body and the left foot to the left side of the body, with the big toes corresponding to your head.