Updated: Apr 26, 2022
Historically, reflexology has been around for a long time. Also known as 'zone therapy' the concept is derived from as far back as ancient Egypt, 2500 BC where scripts show hand and foot treatments being given to patients of the time as one of the first kinds of medicine.
In the 1900s, William Fitzgerald MD brought this therapy to America where he claimed that applying pressure had an anaesthetic effect on the body. There are 6 zones on the feet and hands that correspond to the body made sense by the below diagram. Whilst with any therapy, we cannot claim it can 'cure' or 'heal' medical conditions, people seek what is known as these alternative therapies when traditional and contemporary medicine has not benefitted them and they have nowhere else to turn to. Despite this, it is a fascinating therapy that provides relief and wellbeing to many and I thoroughly recommend trying it to find out for yourself.
So who can benefit from reflexology?
Reflexology can help to balance hormones that the body produces whether its during mensuration or menopause. Pressing around the ankle area is the zone for the reproductive organs and sexual system. Many seek more specialist reflexology to also help with fertility. I have been able to tell from my experience when someone is hormonal by feeling this area of the foot where there may be some mild swelling.
2. Diabetics/ Peripheral Neuropathy
This treatment is something that I use on many clients with diabetes or suffering nerve damage as a result of the condition. Those suffering with type 2 diabetes (the most common type) have a compromised circulation, especially in the feet. Research has shown it can improve balance and mobility. Those I have treated with peripheral neuropathy have given feedback that they felt elevated the following day and that it benefitted them after one session.
Massage in general supports the cardiovascular system - the power of touch is a big one here. By applying relaxing pressure, the body responds by lowering inflammation levels that occur (cells that are sent by the body as an immune response). Through this, it helps the promotion of circulation whereby the restriction of this through stress and age causes cardiovascular diseases. By improving the flow of circulation, you improve the flow of blood and its nutrients it carries around the body. Massage aids the decrease in heart rate and respiration. It's almost as though there are no downsides to reflexology!
This is an important one that I see many clients suffering with. A condition that affects around at least 30% of the UK population in the worst cases, reflexology can benefit these sufferers. This is because it can rebalance the body's natural system that has been disrupted for a number of reasons. Our state of 'homeostasis' whereby the body self regulates chemical outputs are resolved through the pressure points in reflexology that relate to our nervous system as a kind of 'reset'.
'A 2012 review of 40 studies of reflexology, acupressure and sleep found that using these therapies led to significant improvements to insomnia when combined with sleep hygiene practices, such as keeping a regular bedtime, eating well and exercising, avoiding excessive light exposure, and maintaining a quiet, dark, relaxing sleeping space free of electronics.'
Amongst the above, it is said that reflexology can benefit those with kidney stones and bladder issues. Migraine support is still on the table - as a sufferer myself I advise massage as part of your self care practice when it comes to management but I find it deeply relaxing and also energising the following day. Whilst reflexology may never been medically proven to completely stop symptoms, it and other forms of massage may help reduce the severity over time and even go as far as being a good preventative for diseases, helping immunity and prolonging good health.
Overall, anyone can benefit from reflexology treatments as with any massage that helps combat the effects of stress and anxiety from modern day living.