Reflexology Massage, How it Works, Impacts on Health & What a Session is Like

There is a common perception among people that reflexology is all about foot massages. To the non-experts, this is not surprising. If you observe the way reflexology is performed, you may see that it’s pretty similar to a foot massage.

This is why many people have trouble discerning between the two. However, the main difference is in the purpose. The purpose of a foot massage is to treat pain and discomfort in the foot.

On the other hand, reflexology is a comprehensive treatment that taps into the body’s energies and triggers its healing abilities. Through reflexology, your body’s circulation may improve which could enable it to counter tension, pain and also prevent illness and ailments.

However, unlike a foot massage, reflexology can be performed on different parts of the body. Reflexology sessions commonly target the ears and hands of the patients coming in for treatment in addition to their feet.

The interesting thing about reflexology is that most people have already experienced it in some way without even realizing that they were getting reflexology treatment. Reflexology has been around for a long time.

There is a common belief that pinching the webbing between your thumb and forefinger will cure headaches. This is based on the principles of reflexology, as farfetched as it may seem.

The Basic Philosophy of Reflexology Treatment

Reflexology has its origins in various ancient healing methods practiced in Asia for several millennia now. The basis for this treatment method is the ancient Oriental philosophy which preaches that the body’s energies have to be in harmony for its healing abilities to work.

The main purpose of reflexology is to balance the body’s energies. Under reflexology, there are certain ‘trigger points’ on the body to which pressure is applied to stimulate various nerves and systems.

If reflexology is performed in the correct way, it could help alleviate pain and discomfort while also releasing the stress accumulated in the body. Even the organ systems that are not connected to the hands and feet function may better after this.

In many ways, reflexology is similar to acupressure, given the fact that they both focus on the body’s trigger points and both have their roots in ancient Chinese healing methods. The concept of massage targeting certain pressure points in the body came about in Japan and Egypt, even though the origin for this is Chinese.

It was only in the 20th century that the concept of reflexology was introduced in the US. However, it took several decades for it to gain popularity. As of today, reflexology is more popular than it has ever been.

How Reflexology Works

Reflexology focuses on the feet in particular. The belief behind this is that there are certain pressure points in the foot which are directly linked to different body systems.

For instance, the wellbeing of the circulatory system or the nervous system can be influenced through reflexology. Moderate pressure is applied to the pressure points to enhance the patients’ health and wellbeing. Reflexologists are trained to apply the pressure in the correct manner, while also stimulating the movement of the foot.

As mentioned above, the principles of reflexology are based on the idea that there is natural energy within the body, known as Qi. This energy runs from top to bottom, from head to toe. Since the energy zones span your body structure, all the body’s systems can be accessed through them.

Making certain manipulations to the energy zones in the feet ensure that certain energies can be targeted. Reflexologists have a map that they use to determine where the pressure points are located.

This enables them to perform treatments in the correct way. They know exactly where to apply pressure on the hands or feet of the patient to access different energy zones.

Though this concept has been around for many centuries, it is still valid today. It is known that the hands and feet are where most of the nerve endings in the body are located. Applying pressure on the hands and feet could enable reflexologists to target specific energy zones within the body.

How It Impacts Health

There are many within the medical community who don’t accept reflexology as a genuine treatment method. They believe that reflexology does not provide any specific benefits, other than relieving pain in the feet and hands.

The muscles and nerves do get stimulated which improves the circulation in the hands and feet. But they are apprehensive as far as the use of reflexology to treat other health conditions is concerned. The fact that one does not need any training or expertise to perform reflexology is one more reason why reflexology isn’t accepted as a valid method for treatment.

That being said, there is considerable evidence to show that reflexology works and has proven to be effective for many centuries now. Some scientific research is still being carried out to determine the extent to which reflexology can influence a person’s health and wellbeing.

There are numerous ways in which reflexology is used for improving health and treating conditions, including:

  • Improving circulation within the body
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Releasing stress
  • Detoxification
  • Relieving pain caused by injury or any other medical condition
  • Alleviating symptoms of different diseases

That being said, reflexology isn’t a substitute for Western medicine.

Breakdown of a Reflexology Session

There is little difference between the environment in which reflexology sessions are carried out and traditional massages are given. There are special beds which are used to ensure the person receiving the treatment can be comfortable and feel relaxed throughout the session.

In some cases, the patient is required to undress and put on a robe. However, this is not always compulsory. A great deal of pressure may be applied to the feet to ensure the pressure points can be triggered. However, the sessions are usually painless.

There is no doubt that reflexology can be a genuine treatment for various health ailments. You can learn the techniques and methods used for reflexology and focus on providing reflexology treatment to the people who need it. There is great scope for reflexologists and thus this is an option that you should definitely consider if you’re thinking of specializing.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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