Reflexology Healing – What Is It And How Does It Work??

Healing your body through reflexology.

Everyone loves a good foot rub, it helps to relax the body and the mind. Reflexology does this and so much more. Through targeted points in the feet, hands and ears, a reflexology massage stimulates circulation in specific areas of the body, relaxes specific muscles, and brings healing and pain relief.

Reflexology is based upon the idea that the feet are directly linked to other parts of the body through one of the ten energy zones. Each of these energy zones, and more specifically each of the body parts, muscles and organs, has a connected spot on the foot. When these spots are massaged, the corresponding part of the body receives the direct benefit as well.

A trained reflexologist knows the proper way to massage the feet to bring about relaxation and healing to the whole body. He or she can even pinpoint areas of pain or illness within your body through the initial foot massage technique and then target those areas of the foot to further contribute to overall wellness.

Reflexology Basics

The basics of reflexology are simple. Each foot and hand corresponds to the same side of the body. So if your back is hurting on the right side, there is a place in your right foot that corresponds to this location.

On the foot, the toe region is directly connected to the neck, sinuses, head and brain. Beneath the toe region are the corresponding points for all of the internal organs. The spine is represented by the inner edge of the feet and the lower extremities are clustered around the heel.

Reflexology is not magic

There is nothing magical about reflexology. In scientific terms, it is theorized that the pressure from the point specific massage simply sends signals along the nerve pathways which release chemicals or relax parts of the nervous system.

Each of these processes will result in relaxation and stress reduction, which in turn contributes to an overall sense of well-being, improves the body’s functions, and promotes healing.

It is possible to perform a version of reflexology at home. Using a hard rolling ball or a box of marbles, simply roll your foot around on them, exerting pressure on areas that are tender and making sure the entire foot is massaged at some point. Alternatively, you can massage one hand with the other whenever it is convenient, such as while waiting in traffic, standing in line or listening to a lecture.

Reflexology uses pressure points of the foot, hand or outer ears to relieve stress and tension in various parts of the body. It aides in relaxation, stimulation of bodily functions and helps to heal a variety of injuries.

Massage Tutorial: Reflexology basics, techniques, & routine

Want to incorporate some basic reflexology techniques into your massage routine? This is my approach, and it doesn't require any special knowledge of meridians, organs, etc. It's just a unique way of working with the foot for extended periods, providing a very different (and wonderful) foot massage experience.

The main technique used in reflexology (3:00) is a compress/slide tool that I've most often heard called the "inch-worm." As I demonstrate, it's important to keep your thumb reasonably close to the rest of your hand as you do this, allowing your thumb muscles to mostly act as stabilizers rather than prime movers. Apply pressure, straighten the thumb, then apply pressure again, allowing your thumb to inch its way up/across the foot as you do. Feel free to lighten up as you straighten your thumb joint to prevent thumb strain and pain under the thumbnail.

The basic reflexology routine (5:51) starts with strips up the foot, following lines from the heel to each toe. You'll then follow a grid across the metatarsophalangeal joints before working with each individual toe. Follow a line around the arches and heel of the foot, and then work with the dorsal surface, following 4 lines defined by the spaces between the toes. Finally, sink into the ankle as you bring it through a gentle circumduction.

As you sink into the arches and metatarsophalangeal joints, you'll feel an interesting landscape under your thumbs, with lots of "crunchies" and bumps. This is normal for the foot, and is particularly palpable when performing reflexology-style techniques. Exploring these can feel good for the client, but don't feel compelled to "break these up." These aren't knots or lactic acid, etc., but rather normal features of a foot that has been used for walking.

At all times, track your client's face and breathing, and stay in frequent communication to ensure that none of the techniques or areas are painful or unpleasant. While reflexology is naturally more intense than Swedish foot massage, it shouldn't be painful. Many clients will find themselves falling asleep during these treatments, and waking up feeling like a thousand bucks.

Remember, always listen to your body! Switch thumbs before fatigue sets in, and alter or discard any techniques that cause you pain or discomfort. Let me know if you have any trouble in the comments and we'll try to troubleshoot. I recommend starting by practicing on yourself and friends, and to take a workshop or long-form reflexology course if you find yourself interested in this modality! I recommend anything by Karen Ball, who taught me the basics more than a decade ago (my apologies to her for anything I've forgotten or changed!):

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