Reflexology is an alternative form of medicine. This approach consists in applying pressure to specific points to address a wide range of symptoms and conditions. This treatment is becoming more popular as scientific findings are supporting the many health benefits associated with reflexology.
The Origins Of Reflexology
This alternative medicine can be traced back to 1,000 BC. Chinese medicine texts talk about a connection between pressure points on patients’ feet and their life force.
This technique was brought back to Europe during the 14th century and may have been used by doctors. It gained legitimacy during the 1970s in the U.S. as scientists studied it. Additional pressure points were found in the ears and hands.
Reflexology is somewhat similar to other alternative forms of medicine such as Chinese massage therapy, tui na, Reiki, or even acupuncture. These techniques consist in activating specific points to manipulated internal energy flows.
There is scientific evidence that supports the benefits of reflexology, and it is becoming a common addition to treatment plans for cancer patients. People are also often turning to this form of therapy to deal with chronic pain, stress, and other conditions.
How Does Reflexology Work?
There are pressure points located on the feet, hands, and ears that are connected to other body parts. Activating these pressure points relieves pain in specific organs and areas.
These pressure points are known as reflex points and are slightly different from the points used in other forms of alternative medicine such as acupuncture or Reiki. Pressure is applied is the form of a massage while other therapies use different techniques to activate pressure points.
You can find out more about these reflex points by looking at a reflexology massage chart.
There are pressure points on the feet, the hands, and the ears. It is usually best to schedule an appointment with a specialized therapist since finding the exact reflex points to alleviate your symptoms can be difficult at first.
Therapists will typically massage the reflex points, but some might use rubber balls to apply pressure, rubber bands, or even wooden sticks.
The Science Behind Reflexology
How does therapy reflexology work? Scientists believe that the reflex points are actually endings for peripheral nerves.
Applying pressure on these peripheral nerves by massaging them triggers a positive response. These nerves send a signal to the brain, which reacts by releasing endorphins. This is why patients often report being in a better mood after receiving a treatment, and why reflexology is such an efficient treatment against chronic pain and stress.
Stimulating peripheral nerve endings is also beneficial for the nervous system and for circulation. This is why receiving frequent reflexology treatments is good for your overall health and will make you less likely to experience chronic pain or to become sick in the future.
Some people believe that reflexology works by manipulating energy flows throughout the body. This is an idea that comes from traditional Chinese medicine. These vital energy flows can get stuck, which results in stress, pain, and illnesses. The key to unlocking these energy flows is to activate specific points.
Letting this vital energy flow freely through your body results in you feeling happier and improves your overall health and energy levels. This could be why people often report feeling better after receiving a reflexology treatment.
The Main Reflex Points
There are hundreds of reflex points on the feet, hands, and ears. It takes years to learn them all and to gain enough experience to determine which ones should be activated to treat specific symptoms. Here are the main reflex points to help you get started with reflexology massages.
Feet Reflex Points
The reflex points on feet are more sensitive than the ones on your hands or ears. This is why patients are usually more responsive when these points are targeted.
Here are a few examples:
- You can address sinus problems by targeting the bottom of the four smaller toes.
- The flat portion under your big toe is connected to your pituitary gland.
- Massage the neck of your big toe to help with neck pain.
- There are different reflex points on the inner arch of your foot for your solar plexus, stomach, and pancreas.
- As you go further inside of the foot, you will find reflex points for your bladder and heart.
- The outer arch of your foot has reflex points for your spleen and your digestive system.
Hand Reflex Points
There are a few reflex points located on your hands that can help with relieving anxiety. This is a helpful trick to help you deal with stressful situations, but remember that the reflex points on your hands probably won’t be as efficient as the ones on your feet:
- There are reflex points for your brain on your fingertips.
- Massage your phalanges to relieve stress and anxiety.
- There are different points inside of your palms for your lungs, heart, and chest.
- The lower portion of your palm has a reflex point for your stomach.
Ear Reflex Points
There are several reflex points in your ears, but therapists rarely use them since they are small and close together. It takes years of practice to figure out where each of these tiny reflex points is.
You might find that massaging your ears helps with some symptoms you are experiencing. Here are a few tips to help you get started with targeting these reflex points:
- Your earlobes have reflex points that should help with headaches and heart problems.
- Target the area just above your earlobes along the outline of your ear for sinus problems.
- Trace the outline of your ear further up a little more, and you will find a reflex point that is level with your antihelix. This should help with joint pain.
- There is another reflex point level with your anti-helical fold for internal organs.
- You will find another reflex point just above the level of the anti-helical fold for shoulder pain.
Finding these reflex points will become easier as you get some practice. Print a reflexology chart and try to massage different reflex points in function of the symptoms you are experiencing. Pay attention to the results you get to determine if you are targeting the right reflex points.
What Is Reflexology Used For?
This alternative form of medicine is becoming a more common treatment option for psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and even depression. It also helps with insomnia and with overall mood.
These massages are also beneficial for patients who have to deal with chronic pain. Reflexology to feet pain usually yields excellent results, but this is a treatment you should consider if you are dealing with chronic back pain.
Asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are other conditions where symptoms can be alleviated by targeting reflex points.
Cancer patients who have to undergo chemotherapy treatments often have to deal with nausea as a side effect. Their treatment plan sometimes includes reflexology to help with nausea and manage other symptoms.
Who Should Avoid Reflexology?
Because reflexology improves circulation, it can be dangerous if you have blood clots. Receiving a reflexology treatment could accidentally cause a blood clot to move near to an organ.
If you have issues with your feet, such as gout or injuries, it is best to avoid this treatment. You should also know that some organs shouldn’t be stimulated while you are pregnant. However, a trained professional will know which reflex points to avoid during your pregnancy.
Should You Try Reflexology Yourself Or See A Professional?
The great thing about reflexology is that you can learn where reflex points are and practice this technique yourself. You only have to apply pressure on these points and can target multiple points with a massage.
You can use a chart to figure out where a specific reflex point is and try reflexology to target a specific symptom. This is something you can do as needed, and finding the right reflex points and targeting them becomes easier as you become more comfortable.
You can even shop for special gloves or socks where the different reflex points are marked. This is something you should consider doing if you want to be able to target a specific reflex point to alleviate pain or help treat a health condition.
However, you should consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist who specialized in reflexology if you need help with a health problem like chronic pain since several reflex points might need attention. You will get results right away, and the therapist you see will show you where your reflex points are.
In fact, receiving regular treatments could help you manage symptoms if you suffer from a chronic illness or if you need help with stress or insomnia.
Reflexology is an alternative form of medicine that consists in targeting reflex points in your feet, hands, and ears. It is used to treat a wide range of conditions and the great thing about reflexology is that you can practice is yourself at home once you learn where your reflex points are. Look for a chart so you can get started!