What is Reflexology?
The Science and Art of Reflexology
First references to the science of reflexology were made around 2,500 BC seen in Egyptian Papyrus documents depicting treatment on feet and hands. Further stone carvings and studies showed that these ancient Egyptians understood the body as an integrated system, the feet being the ‘microscopic map of the body’. It is possible to detect the health and wellbeing of major body organs, glands, bones, teeth, gums, muscles and nervous system from this body map. Reflexology is a natural, non-invasive therapy which can be used as a one-off treatment of a specific condition and also an ongoing health maintenance programme helping to keep the body in balance and so an excellent preventative medical treatment.
So how does it work (the science)
Known in the early 1900’s as ‘Zone Therapy’ by Dr William Fitzgerald, and later Eunice Ingham in the 1930’s, the basic premise is that there are zones on different parts of the body that correspond to other parts of the body, finely detailed in the feet and hands. By stimulating specific points, known as reflex points, carefully using firm finger and thumb pressure (acupressure), this restores balance in the body.
Reflexology is today widely acknowledged by the public in the UK and is recognised by the NHS, GP's and hospices as a viable non intrusive complementary health therapy.
Over 75% of health problems can be linked to stress and nerve tension. Stress is manufactured in the body and not absorbed from outside. Long term exposure to high pressure lifestyles can result in fatigue and depression. This combined with poor diet can create deep stress patterns and, often as a result, ill-health and low energy. As we manufacture stress, so can we reduce stress with the help of a skilled well trained reflexologist.
The reflexologist applies pressure to the reflex points (effectively nerve endings) to break down
blockages and congestion and increase circulation. From this external stimulus, the impulse
causes a response from the organ to increase protoplasm activities and normalise its function.
It activates our bodies’ nuclear cells, organs and body systems, fully develops the bodies self-
healing powers and maintains optimum health. In short, this helps encourages the body’s
neutral structure to achieve balance (known as homeostasis) in all its systems.
It is both a science and an art, a science because it is based on physiological and neurological
study and an art because much depends on how skilfully the therapists apply their knowledge.
Reflexology is suitable for people of all ages, from babies to the elderly, for pregnant women
and those undergoing chemotherapy.
Deep relaxation – a major benefit
An increasing number of people are suffering stress-related diseases such as high blood pressure, stomach pains, heart disease and digestive complaints. Prolonged stress becomes very debilitating and as the nervous system becomes depleted, the immune system becomes eroded and a whole host of immune deficient illnesses may present themselves such as ME which are now becoming more prevalent. Abnormal tension and bad posture creates a tightening of muscles especially in the spine and neck, plus long hours in front of computers, tablets and screens, car journeys, in addition to which excessive caffeine and alcohol only adds to more stress, we then see signs in terms of pain, fatigue and illness.
Relaxation can be termed as a luxury and we often see it in terms of holidays, TV and films; the reality is that our bodies, minds and emotions are working day to day to cope and need support and a way to unwind. Sometimes, when lives have been pushed too far and fast, or when a major stressful life event happens, we need help to unwind our system. Reflexology can do just that. It can induce a trance-like state of relaxation as the manipulation of the reflex points stimulates the parasympathetic (nervous system) response in the body to release (energy) blockages in the body and so a physiological change called relaxation – the feeling you have as you ‘come down step-by-step’ allowing yourself to come ‘off-guard/alert’, similar to that moment when you allow yourself to fall asleep, akin to a hypnotic trance-like state, which then allows the body to restore and reset. Yet, it is relaxation that comes from a very specific treatment addressing all parts of the body including major organs and that is why it is so effective.
Treatment with a really good reflexologist is an experience not to be missed.
So how is Reflexology an art?
The art of reflexology lies within the skill and sensitivity of the practitioner. Being able to feel the quality of each reflex point with a subtle but firm pressure, is a great skill that takes years to perfect. It also takes great stamina, sensitivity and care.
The benefits of relaxing in this way, and working through all the points in a careful and skilful manner, is so very different from other forms of treatment such as massage as it works in a very specific way identifying the quality of each point and a sense of how it is connecting with the correlating parts of the body.
It is amazing how the therapist can even feel tired eyes, sore teeth, upset stomachs and the condition of the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys and other parts of the body.
Would you trust many people to feel your kidneys? Well you might through the reflex points on your feet!