While commonly misunderstood as a sort of foot massage, reflexology is actually are far more detailed, natural therapy that is designed to improve the way a body functions. It is based upon the idea that nerve endings in the hands and feet are related to the rest of the body. For example, the base of the little toe is related to the ear and the ball of the foot is related to the lung. Application of the correct amount of pressure on these nerve endings brings about an improved state of functioning and health. Reflexology in some form or another has actually been used for thousands of years as a holistic way to treat everything from stress and low energy to pain, depression, poor circulation, and many other physical discomforts. You may have heard of it, but may wonder what exactly it is or what it can do for you.
What is Reflexology
Reflexology massage, more commonly known as reflexology, involves applying pressure to specific points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face, and ears that correspond with various organs, glands, and other body parts. It is not intended to replace traditional health care, but it can be a highly beneficial complementary therapy. It was first introduced to the West by Dr. William Fitzgerald, who called it “Zone Therapy." Dr. Fitzgerald believed that there was a link between reflex areas on the hands and feet and other organs and parts of the body. Eunice Ingham took this idea further by suggesting that congestion or tension in the feet indicates that there is congestion or tension in the corresponding body part.
Just a few of the many benefits of reflexology include:
- Improved nerve functioning. One of the natural effects of aging is reduced nerve functioning due to a decreased sensitivity in nerve endings. Reflexology has the potential to stimulate greater than seven thousand different nerve endings, allowing them to react and function better. Since neural pathways tend to operate much like muscles, stimulating them can help to keep them operational and can improve physical function and flexibility.
- Boosted energy levels. Since reflexology can stimulate and align the function of the organ and muscle systems in the body, it can help to increase metabolism and energy creation.
- Increased circulation. With the opening of neural pathways and the relaxation of muscle tension, reflexology can allow for increased circulation. This is turn means that more blood and oxygen is reaching different areas of the body more efficiently, allowing for more optimal organ function as well as faster healing and regrowth of damaged cells in the body.
- Better relaxation. More optimal neural function means that the body is better able to relax and reach a healthy state of calm. This is why reflexology is often recommended when an individual is suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorders, as it can help restore normal Circadian rhythms.
- Toxin elimination. Where urinary tract and bladder function is improved there is far better and more efficient toxin elimination. Reflexology has proven useful in improving urinary tract and bladder function, which can also help to protect it from the illnesses and diseases that sometimes afflict these areas.
- Headache reduction. Due to its ability to reduce muscle tension, reflexology is very helpful in reducing the incidence of migraines and other tension-type headaches. In fact, one of the main reasons that people seek out reflexology is to resolve headache frequency.
- Improved healing time. With increased neural activity and blood circulation along with a more efficient metabolism, cells are able to regrow faster and wounds to heal quickly.
- Eased labor and recovery for pregnant women. Studies have indicated that when pregnant women receive reflexology, they tend to experience smoother labors and faster recoveries, largely due to the improved nerve function, blood circulation, and metabolism.
- And much more.
Reflexology is different from other forms of massage therapy in that only the shoes and socks are removed and no lotions or oils will be used. You will either sit or recline, whichever position is most comfortable. Based on the information that you have provided to the therapist regarding present concerns, they will apply pressure to specific parts of your hands and feet. This pressure is often applied by the thumb or finger in patterns that help to stretch and stimulate the points being contacted. The reflexology session is gentle and relaxing, and many individuals note that they can actually sense beneficial changes occurring in their body.
While reflexology is broadly viewed as safe, there are some conditions for which it is not recommended. This can include the presence of open sores, burns, wounds, gout, and infections on the hands or feet as well as some other medical conditions. It is advised that anyone suffering from acute or chronic health conditions get doctor approval before receiving any sort of massage therapy, including reflexology.
For more information about the wonderful benefits of reflexology and to schedule your reflexology appointment, contact Botanica Spa today.