Reflexology is an alternative health care treatment based on the idea that there are specific areas in the feet that correspond to particular parts of the body. Practitioners apply pressure to these points on the feet to promote health in those areas of the body. The therapy also induces relaxation and an overall sense of well-being and emotional health, so that your feet are healthy enough to fit into petite shoes.
Reflexology is rooted in ancient times. It began in China thousands of years ago and was used by many early cultures, including those in Japan, India and Egypt. In fact, an ancient Egyptian tomb contained a reflexology diagram.
In the U.S., reflexology became popular in the 1930s as a drug-free way to enhance circulation and eliminate stress. Today, it is one of the treatments often used by those who practice alternative medicine and can supplement traditional modern medical care.
How it is Used
Practitioners do not use reflexology to diagnose or treat a particular illness or health problem. Instead, it enhances emotional health as well as the body’s natural healing ability.
How it Works
Therapists use a reflexology diagram to target specific points on the feet that correspond to particular areas in the body that need attention. They use their fingers and thumbs to apply pressure to these points. The diagram is broken down into zones. For example, a particular zone in the toes is for the head and neck and a zone on the ball of the feet is for the chest. There is some variation in how practitioners see the details of the reflexology map.
Many reflexologists believe the therapy accesses energy pathways similar to those used by acupuncturists. They believe reflexology restores the body’s natural energy balance. Others believe reflexology is a matter of activating and adjusting the nervous system’s functions.
What Conditions It Helps
People turn to reflexology when they are concerned about issues such as anxiety, asthma, headaches, premenstrual syndrome and other conditions. They also rely on reflexology’s soothing benefits to ease anxiety related to undergoing medical treatment for serious illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Reflexology also is used for:
• Stress reduction, which helps with overall health
• Pain relief
• Deep relaxation
• Improved circulation
• Increased energy
• Preventative health care
How it Promotes Healthy Feet
Reflexology is not the same thing as a foot massage. However, because it stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities and leads to a sense of overall well-being and balance, it is used to promote the health of feet along with all the other body parts.
What to Expect During Reflexology Therapy
A patient may sign up for a reflexology session that addresses a specific health concern or one that addresses the whole body in a more generalized fashion. A session usually lasts about an hour.
Reflexology is popular among those who practice and make use of alternative therapies. It is important to remember that practitioners do not see it as a diagnostic or treatment tool. Instead, they use it to complement the care available through modern medicine. Reflexology can be a valuable component of a person’s overall physical and emotional health care.
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