The first of the benefits of reflexology is to put you back on your feet. After all, this treatment focuses on that part of your body that is usually disregarded simply because it lies at the periphery, too close to the ground to mind it much.
Whether you work in an office, or a factory, whether you’re a dancer or a writer, there is a good chance that you put a lot of weight and stress on your feet every day. That stress is carried along the channels to other parts of your body – the back, the neck, the temples start to tense up or throb in pain.
Reflexology is not your simple foot massage, even if that is a first time impression. Once you read into the history of this pain therapy and learn the tricks, you might find yourself swept off your feet.
The First Steps of Reflexology
Reflexology, in its ancient, primitive form, posited that the blockage of the energy field, the invisible chi, can prevent healing. The source of the life force was to be found in the feet and hands, and along the internal network of our body.
Centuries later, the tenets of reflexology held strong. In 1913, William H. Fitzgerald, MD, an ear, nose, and throat doctor opened the path for this foot massage to the American public. He endorsed the ‘zone therapy’ for its anesthetic effect.
Twenty years later, Eunice D. Ingham, nurse and physiotherapist drew the reflexology map that we know today, introducing the benefits of foot reflexology to a still incredulous population. In Ingham’s view, feet and hands were the coordinates to reach the state of well-being.
It divided the body into ten equal vertical zones, five on the right and five on the left. Reflexology was to be the gentle manipulation of the foot to produce an effect elsewhere in the body. Thus, the free flow of energy would release endorphins, the natural pain killers that our bodies produce.
Every organ and gland in our body is reflected on the feet, says reflexology, and working these reflex areas has been demonstrated to decrease stress, improve blood circulation, and reduce pain, particularly headaches and migraines.
Let's Hear the Critics
The present medical community rejects these hypotheses, accusing reflexology it lacks in scientific evidence. Other voices of protest have raised against the claims of this type of foot massage.
- In order to build a stronger defense case, we’ve disclosed some of the accusations:
- Reflexology is not regulated by government or covered by health insurance.
- There has been no scientific evidence for the existence of life energy or pathways in the body.
- There is no consensus among reflexologists on how reflexology is supposed to work.
- Reflexology is pseudo-science quackery and a placebo cure.
Reflexology has at least one ardent follower. It is at present one of the most used alternative therapies in Denmark, and rapidly spreading to Norway. If history taught us anything is that Scandinavians are not the kind of people to get cold feet about things. Maybe a massage had something to do with it?
Top Benefits of Reflexology
Clearing Neural Pathways
The nervous system could be viewed as an electrical system, with the nerve endings acting as the wiring, the communication line between our body organs. After all, all bodily functions are a result of messages being sent back and forth along neural pathways.
In time, though, wear and tear is inevitable. Our nerve endings lose their sensitivity, starting with the extremities. Here is where the benefits of reflexology become apparent.
Stimulating the various reflex areas of the feet can send impulses to more than 7,000 different nervous endings. These impulses clear the pathways and release accumulated stress and tension, while increasing the flexibility of many areas of the body.
Your nervous system is like a muscle, from time to time it’s good to get it into shape.
Alleviates the Effects of Post-Partum Depression and PMS Mood Swings
Edema is the swelling of the feet and ankles caused by fluid retention. It is mostly encountered in pregnant women, especially when they reach the last trimester of their pregnancy.
It’s almost common sense now that feet need to be the center of attention. This type of foot massage goes beyond putting mothers in a relaxed state for the duration of the pregnancy.
Reflexology also assists in the post-partum recovery time. Depression installs easily after birth, trapping the mother into a passive mental state, throwing her moods off balance, and creating anxieties and irritability all around.
You might recognize these symptoms as frequently occurring during PMS. Daily 10 – 20 minute massage session can alleviate sadness, tension, fatigue, insomnia, and headaches.
This method of treatment might have short-term effects, though. The mood improves for as long as a skillful hand sends the waves of pleasure and release from your feet up the highway of your body.
That being said, reflexology should not be considered to supplement formal medical advice and treatment.
Don’t take stress lightly. It may impair your lifestyle, increase harmful obsessive-compulsive tendencies while also affecting everyone around you. More often than not, we’re sold stress-free zones in the form of a chocolate cure, buying that dream convertible, attending yoga sessions.
In the last years, companies have recognized the serious implications of stress-related illness. It can impact the economy negatively and put strain on health services.
Reflexology doesn’t claim to fix this 21st century epidemic, but what it can do is to soothe you into a state of deep rest and induce calm throughout your body by opening up those neural pathways.
The stream of relaxation should be free flowing and inundating even those remote parts of your body you’re usually not aware of.
Stress also hampers sleep patterns. A haggard mental state will throw your Circadian rhythm off balance. Insomnia really is a heavy burden to carry around, but triggering the right reflexes might get this load of your feet.
The techniques of reflexology include finger or thumb walking in a set sequence, complemented by kneading of the foot using the whole hand.
Although results vary according from individual to individual, there’s no reason to doubt the soothing, stress-relief effect of a professional, time honored foot massage.
Improves the Blood Flow
One of the most obvious benefits of reflexology massage is an improved traffic of blood and oxygen throughout the body. It translates to oxygen reaching vital organs and improving their functionality.
As a domino effect, this may have long-term implications resulting in faster healing and re-capacitating damaged cells.
Many people spend much of their time sitting at a desk, not properly moving a single muscle for hours on end – and we’re not counting the run of fingers on a laptop keyboard.
Count improper footwear as an obstacle to normal circulation and, at the end of the day, you’ll find yourself literally dragging your feet to bed.
You can improve your blood circulation with 10 minutes of daily foot massage. This will also facilitate the lymphatic system and help in the prevention of varicose veins.
Heals that Achilles Heel
Achilles heel is not just a myth. It is a weak spot that exists in the form of plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain. This ligament connects your heel bone to your toes, supporting the arch of your foot.
Sometimes, though, floods of pain can hit it hard and cause the arch to collapse. The pain is usually most severe with the first steps of the day or after a period of rest.
This disorder is common in middle-aged people, but also occurs in younger people whose jobs are to be on their feet a lot, like soldiers, athletes, and the MacDonald’s staff.
These are some of the risk factors:
- Natural high arches
- Running or walking long-distances
- Spending too much time on your feet, especially if you’re inactive
- High heels
Some people experience foot pain after even mild physical activity because of the flat feet syndrome.
Regular foot exercise should be self-evident. Couple this with deep massage. The reflexologist needs to apply strong pressure on the arch. A session will relax the muscles of the foot and calf, increase circulation and flexibility which will, in turn, reduce the pain and inflammation.
Reduces Migraines and Headaches
This is actually one of the most popular benefits of reflexology.
A study conducted in Denmark showed that people suffering from headaches showed great improvement after receiving this type of foot massage. Of course, as mentioned earlier on, Danes are eager proponents of the benefits of reflexology.
Although a headache may be mild or slightly throbbing, a migraine is simply long-term pain. And you don’t want to invest in that. In the case of a migraine, the blood vessels of the brain enlarge to spit out chemicals from the nerve fibers that cause inflammation.
Some of the causes of migraine might be:
- Hormonal change.
- Bad eating habits, like consuming tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and fermented foods.
- Work stress and tension.
- Sleeping disorders.
- Changed atmospheric pressure.
An excess in muscle tension and an imbalance in the blood flow will cause pain above the neck. Reflexology can reach the acupressure points in this area and release with very little pressure needed.
Removes Toxins from the System
One of the most well-known benefits of reflexology is its efficiency at eliminating toxins and other foreign radical substances from the body. Not to mention it serves as a pleasant detox session.
A compromised urinary system will put your body under attack from accumulated toxins. Reflexology can improve bladder function, as demonstrated in the aftermath of a session. As a rule, people feel the need to pee after a foot massage and are almost always thirsty.
Still, we don’t advise to have reflexology if you have a pacemaker fitted, or if you suffer from diabetes.
The experience of getting a foot and hand massage is firm, but gentle. Relaxing, yet overpowering. It should never cause discomfort or pain. The elderly and the young, the inactive blue worker or the strained athlete, children and babies alike can enjoy the positive benefits of reflexology.
Remember, keep to your feet and be healthy!