For those who have experienced it, foot massage is great. When pressure is applied to various spots on the sole of the foot, it seems like all the tension that has built up there is being released; such a release of tension gives the body a feeling of instant relief.

Reflexology takes foot massage a bit further.

Reflexology is a healing practice where pressure is applied to certain areas of the foot – and sometimes the hands and ears – to bring healing to the body. These areas are called zones or reflexes; the heart of reflexology is the theory that each zone or reflex corresponds to a particular organ in the body. Reflexology used to be referred to as zone therapy and some practitioners still make use of this term.

Practitioners of reflexology claim that the principles behind this healing practice have been in existence for around five thousand years. It is said that there are archaeological evidence that give proof of the practice of reflexology in Egypt, China and Japan as early as 2700 BCE. The practice of reflexology itself, however, only came to the western world during the 19th century.

As stated above, in reflexology, it is believed that the feet, hands and ears are segmented into different zones or reflexes, and these zones correspond to a particular part of the body. It is also believed that the feet and hands are very sensitive, as they have pressure sensors that are related to the flight-or-fight mechanism of the body. The energy flow through the body can be blocked in these zones, causing stress and impairs the proper function of certain organs in the body. When the organs of the body fail to do their work properly, illnesses develop.

Here is how the body is zoned according to reflexology:

  • Left foot or left hand – the left side of the body
  • Right foot or right hand – the right side of the body
  • Insides of foot/hand – the spine
  • Outer sides of foot/hand – arms and shoulders
  • Toes and fingers – head and neck, as well as the organs within
  • Long bones of the feet/hands (the arch) – waistline
  • Area above the arch and underneath the toes (the ball of the foot) – organs between the waist and the neck (lungs, heart, breast, liver, stomach, etc.)
  • Area below the arch (the heel) – organs below the waistline

Applying pressure to specific zones on the feet and hands is believed to release the blocked energy in the body and encourage the corresponding organs to begin healing and functioning as they should. This is because manipulating the zones on the feet and hands aids in promoting circulation and releases endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones of the body. It relieves stress and alleviates pain on a more general level.
The practitioner will first assess the general condition of your health. He or she will note the adaptations that your feet and hands have taken as a response to pain and stress. Such adaptations come in the form of lumps, calluses, bunions or knobs on the joints of the toes and hands.

Once the assessment has been made, the practitioner will then manipulate the zones of the feet and hands using a number of techniques. The manipulation can be painful, but if it becomes too much, you should communicate so with the practitioner. Too much pressure on the zones can cause harm rather than good. A reflexology session is always done with clothes on and oils or creams are rarely, if ever, used.

An indicator that the session is working is when relief is felt within 30 minutes after the session. You should take it easy after each session is done to feel the full effects of reflexology in your system. However, you should take care not to replace conventional treatment with reflexology. If you are feeling sick, go see a doctor.