Once considered as a useful therapy by the ancient Egyptians, Reflexology may best be described as a specialized form of massage (yet much more than simply massage) of the feet, and some reflexologists will also include the hands.
Reflexology has its roots in ancient Egypt, Greece, and possibly China. In addition, it’s been said that manipulation of the feet for healing purposes was common practice among the native peoples of both North and South America.
Modern Reflexology stems primarily from the work of two 20th century Americans, Dr. William Fitzgerald (an ear, nose and throat specialists) and Eunice Ingham. Fitzgerald first proposed the theory that the body is divided into ten equal zones that extend the length of the body, from head to toe, and that stimulation of an area of the foot in one zone affects other parts of the body in the same zone.
Continuing Fitzgerald’s work, Eunice Ingham developed a “body-chart” which depicted how the entire body was reflected in the soles and sides of both feet. So, as an example, the large toe is affects areas on the head, and the ball of the foot reflects the thyroid area.
How To Do Basic Reflexology
This basic method can be safely and effectively practiced by anyone, if a trained professional is not available.
Basic method: Clean and dry both feet thoroughly and check for corns, calluses, swelling, or anything else that might be painful to the touch. Starting with the toes, work down the length of each foot to the heal, including the top and sides. Both feet should be worked on simultaneously. A full reflexology session usually lasts up to 60 minutes, with treatments taking place on a regular basis (usually weekly).
While it’s very difficult to do a reflexology treatment on your own feet, it can be done with the use of rollers, brushes, and anything that stimulate the reflexes. These products are widely available, usually found in the bath and body areas of most shops. (L’Occitane has a really nice “slimming massager” that feels awesome on your feet — and it’s inexpensive.)
Whether you’re having a reflexology treatment done for you, or your doing a self-treatment, use a variety of ways to put pressure on the reflex points and begin with firm but gentle stroking movements over the entire foot. In the West, fingers and thumbs are used, whereas Oriental practitioners tend to use sticks or similar objects.
Most people experience a feeling of lightness and relaxation, with renewed energy, immediately after a session. It’s been reported that Reflexology is most useful for health conditions such as: digestive problems, menstrual irregularities, stress, fatigue, aches and pains, and inflammatory skin conditions.