An Introduction to reflexology

Reflexology is pain management and wellness therapy. It believes that pressure points on the hand feet and ear correspond to various organs of the body. Stimulation of these points brings relief, and, in some cases, the underlying cause of discomfort is also addressed.

This therapy is in use for a long time and is considered to be an economical, safe, and effective way to manage pain and other discomforts

This therapy was practiced in various parts of the world and is an alternative form of treatment.

History of reflexology

Anything old often has an obscure history. A Strong opinion suggests the practice of this therapy in China, India, and Egypt about 5000 years ago.

Cryptic hieroglyphics and painting in the caves and palaces indicate the existence of reflexology practice at those times.  Written evidence of “examining foot method” is found in the Yellow emperor’s classic of internal medicines written around 1000 BC in China.

The acupuncture therapy was practiced in china in 2500 BC, and that is believed to have a connection with the zone therapy of reflexology.

The North American Indian Tribes practiced primitive reflexology some hundreds of years ago.

Reflexology entered Europe when Marco Polo translated a Chinese massage book into Italian in 1300 AD.

Though it did not evince great interest, books on Zone Therapy were published in Europe in 1582. Dr. Adams and Dr. A Tatis had independently written on Zone therapy.

Mr. James A Garfield was the president of the USA in 1881, and he adopted reflexology to relieve pain.

Dr. William H FitzGerald is considered to the father of Modern Zone Therapy. He revived the ancient therapeutic knowledge and skill. Some believe that Dr. William FitzGerald, on his own, developed the zone therapy during his course as a medical practitioner and that it had no connection with the developments in Europe and Asia.

In the year 1917, Dr. William H FitzGerald published a book on Zone therapy. The idea of Zonal Analgesia came into being. The complete human body was divided into ten vertical zones, five on each side.

These vertical zones were mapped in the soles of the human feet with five zones marked in each sole. All the body parts are representatively located in one of these vertical zones.

Dr. Joe Shelby Riley assisted Dr. William in Zone Therapy, and in due course of time, he added eight horizontal rows to the ten vertical zones.

This continued interest and research in Zone therapy kept it alive. Dr. Eunice Ingram is considered the pioneer of Modern Reflexology.

She used to work with Dr.Joe Shelby Riley and took the good work ahead. She is credited with developing the foot maps and reflexology maps as it exists today.

In the year 1950, Dr. Paul Nogier identified the reflexology points in the ear.

Where in the body have reflexology points (hand, feet, ears)

According to the reflexology theory, the whole body and its organs are mapped on the soles, hands, and ear.

Various points are identified with the organs, and stimulation or massaging these points relaxes the organ, relieves the pain, and sets it right.

Some standard reflexological points are accepted by all practitioners. However, every therapist has his unique points, developed out of experience and trials.

The Foot reflexology chart

As can be seen in the foot chart, all body parts are located on the soles. The parts on the right side of the body are on the right sole, and the left ones are on the left sole. Few body parts like stomach, intestines, etc. are on both the soles

Both the soles put together represent the whole body with internal organs.

The location of various organs is shown in the chart. The stimulation point is left to the judgment and experience of the therapist. There are various opinions on the exact point locations.

For instance, to treat the problem of sciatica, the edge of the heel is stimulated or massaged. The sciatic nerve is represented in this part of the sole.

Similarly, for different problems, first, locate where the affected organ is represented on the sole. Then stimulate or massage the points.

Generally, finger and thumb are used for stimulation. Massage is done by the hand.  However, of late, some manual and electrical tools and devices are available to do the needful.

The hand reflexology chart

Just as in the foot chart, the hand chart also represents several body organs in the right and left palm. Interestingly, the back of the palm also carries some reflexology points.

Between the foot and hand chart, the foot chart carries more points and is more detailed.

The ear reflexology chart

Reflexology points are also located on the outer and inner ear lobes.  The ear points are generally used when a quick refreshing therapy is desired.  

For pain relief and treatment, the foot and hand points are stimulated. However, since it is not an exact science, a lot depends on the therapist and his style.

How can people benefit from reflexology?

As for any alternative therapy, the debate is always hot on the benefits of reflexology. Some believe it is just a placebo effect. But research and experience of lots of patients from all over the world indicate tangible benefits from reflexology.

This therapy has survived for thousands of years. This itself is enough to convince that there should be some benefits from reflexology.

The effectiveness of reflexology is attributed to one of the four theories. These theories try to explain the process, which makes reflexology beneficial.

  1. Central nervous system adaption theory
  2. Gate control theory
  3. Vital energy theory
  4. Zone theory

The benefits of reflexology can be summarized as:

  • It has a perceptible relaxation effect.
  • Pain is controlled.
  • It has an impact on the associated body organs
  • It helps in managing stress and anxiety
  • It relieves menstrual pains.
  • The blood circulation improves.
  • The detox process improves.
  • It improves cognitive abilities.
  • It boosts metabolism rates.
  • It improves the performance of the nervous system.

Reflexology has a strong and impressive past. As a therapy, it is safe with no side effects. The mainstream allopathic medication provides quick relief, but in the long run, it has many disastrous after and side effects.

Alternative therapy like reflexology should be tried, at least in case of non-critical illness.