Why do people receive reflexology? What is a session like? How does it work?
How does reflexology work?
The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are"reflex" areas on the feet, hands and ears that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. The feet and hands are a reflection of the body. For example:
- the tips of the toes reflect the head
- the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot
- the liver, pancreas and kidney are in the arch of the foot, nearest the ball
- low back and intestines are in the arch towards the heel
- the map on the ears is an inverted fetus with the head at the ear lobe, foot near the top of the ear
- hands have a similar reflection of the body as do the feet.
Practitioners believe that applying pressure to these reflex areas can promote health in the corresponding body parts through the nervous system and meridian pathways, as well as by improving circulation and inducing deep relaxation.
Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced this concept of "zone therapy" in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram further developed this zone theory in the 1930's into what is now known as reflexology.
There is increasing research that shows evidence that reflexology works.
What will I feel?
Most people find reflexology very relaxing. It can be more relaxing than a full body massage. It has been described as “relaxing from the inside-out,” as opposed to “massage which relaxes from the outside in.”
Reflexology shouldn't be painful. If you feel discomfort, be sure to tell the reflexologist. He or she should work within your comfort zone.
Some areas may be tender or sore, and the reflexologist may spend extra time on these points. The soreness should decrease with pressure.
If you're ticklish, not to worry. The reflexologist applies firm pressure to the feet. Did you know that ticklishness is really just muscle tension?
Why do people get reflexology sessions?
- Stress and stress-related conditions
- Tension headaches
- Digestive disorders
- Hormonal imbalances
- Sports injuries
- Menstrual disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Back pain
- Easier birthing and delivery
- Improvement of kidney function
- Maintain health
- Post operative
- Prostate issues
- Stroke recovery
- Kidney stones
Studies show results with variations for different conditions, such as time between sessions and length of sessions. Some conditions require more frequent sessions such as 2-3 times a week, or even daily for 14 days to achieve results. Other conditions/clients achieve results with once-a-week sessions. Some conditions or clients need only one to four sessions for long term results; others need weekly sessions to continue the benefits.
Reflexology is a popular alternative therapy. It promotes relaxation, improves circulation, reduces pain, soothes tired feet, and encourages overall healing and a sense of well-being.
Reflexology is also used for post-operative or palliative care. A study in the American Cancer Society journal found that one-third of cancer patients used reflexology as a complementary therapy.
Reflexology is recommended as a complementary therapy and should not replace medical treatment. Reflexologists are not doctors and do not diagnose or prescribe.
What is a typical reflexology treatment like
A typical treatment is 45minutes to 60 minutes long and begins with a consultation about your health and lifestyle.
You are then asked to remove your shoes and socks. A footbath may be offered.You will then sit comfortably in a reclining chair or lie on a massage table. Otherwise you remain fully clothed.
The reflexologist will assess the feet, and then use brisk movements to warm the feet up. Pressure is then applied from the toes to the heel according to your comfort. Usually the lower leg and forearm are included. Some conditions such as cancer require a light touch, but most conditions respond to a firm touch. Some sessions include reflexology of the hands and/or ears as well as the feet. Some may even offer facial reflexology.
Lotion or oil may be used.
Where do I find a qualified Reflexologist?
Some may offer hot stones, salt scrubs or Thai reflexology which includes use of a Thai (made of Thai wood) stick. But, the main thing is, be sure your reflexologist has a certificate in reflexology (at least 200 hours of training in the US, which includes at least 90 supervised practical sessions, is required for a national certification), but state requirements vary from state to state. In Maine, there is no reflexology licensing, so it helps to ask for their education background. Some states require a massage therapy license to do reflexology, but not in Maine. Some spas offer something they call reflexology, but is a spa treatment. It makes a difference because reflexology is not massage and is much more specific and detailed work than a foot massage or hand massage. You may find a reflexologist in your area by googling or through the ARCB American Reflexology Certification Board or RAA Reflexology Association of America. http://www.arcb.net/ www.reflexology-usa.org Here in Maine we have the Maine Council of Reflexologists which lists certified reflexologists by region. http://www.reflexologyofmaine.org/
How will I feel after?
Most people feel calm and relaxed after a treatment. They may even feel sleepy. Some feel energized…some feel tired.
Occasionally, people feel nauseous, anxious, or tearful, but this is only temporary and is considered to be part of the healing process.
If you're pregnant, talk with your doctor first and let the reflexologist know. Reflexology is not contraindicated for pregnancy, and is in fact beneficial, but there are points around the ankle and web of the thumb that should not be worked deeply.
Be sure to give the reflexologist a complete and accurate health history.
If you have foot ulcers, injury, or blood vessel disease such as blood clots,consult your doctor before having reflexology.