Reflexology is a powerful holistic complimentary therapy (when the treatment is holistic the whole body is treated rather than just a specific symptom or area of the body). It enables the body to function correctly by stimulating a system of specific pressure points on the feet or hands, where all of the nerve endings of the central nervous system including the internal organs and structures are mapped in miniature.
Via these nerve endings a professional reflexologist is able to stimulate any area of the body and maintain a balance between all of the body's various systems. Establishing this balance enables the body to function correctly, promoting healing to eliminate illness and disease. This leads to greatly increased energy levels and a feeling of physical and mental well-being. Reflexology is quickly gaining popularity and recognition as a valuable therapy that is able to treat many common medical conditions. This may because research into pressure techniques such as reflexology, acupuncture, and acupressure is at last unlocking the secrets of how these therapies work, which adds to their credibility with conventional medical practitioners. Although this does not mean that reflexology has not been used with great success for many thousands of years by different civilizations from all over the world. In fact, the results speak for themselves. There are so many well-documented case studies that the effectiveness of the therapy cannot be disputed.
Exactly How Does Reflexology Work?
For many years it has been accepted that reflexology works, but it has not been understood exactly how. New research into pressure point techniques revealed some amazing reactions within the body. Research done in Canada and the United States has found that pressure point techniques stimulate signals along the nerves, which run throughout the entire body.
All parts of the body both external and internal are connected to the nervous system. Reflexology stimulates nerve signals (often referred to as 'energy' in traditional eastern therapies) to travel through to the central nervous system, into the limbic portion of the brain which is an automatic regulatory centre for the body's internal structure, organs and systems. This part of the brain recognizes these stimulating signals and sends out healing responses, which regulate the body processes to ensure correct functioning in the required areas though it is not yet fully understood how this happens or why.
What Happens During A Reflexology Treatment?
The reflexologist will take an initial consultation to ensure there are no contra-indications to treatment and to ascertain the patient's general health and medical history. On starting treatment (which lasts about 1 hour), the patient will remove only their shoes and socks and lay face up on the treatment bed. The treatments are extremely relaxing, enjoyable and non-invasive as the patient remains fully clothed.
The reflexologist will stimulate the whole body via the reflex zones in the form of a massage incorporating many different individual pressure points. Even the internal organs and structures are treated (this is why the patient often feels like they have had a deep full body massage). The massage techniques aid relaxation and help to break down toxins which have accumulated within the body, and naturally settle at the lowest point- the feet. In some cases these toxins actually form into crystals, which can be felt under the skin (like grains of sugar). These form a physical blockage in the reflex zone that impedes function in the related body part. By the end of the treatment, the reflexologist will be able to recognize which areas of the body are not functioning properly by the way the reflex zones react to the treatment. The reflex zones that are sensitive are often referred to as 'energy blockages' (again in the eastern tradition), indicating poor function in the relating area.
In eastern medicine it is thought that blocked energy is the cause of many illnesses and diseases. These blockages can result from many different factors. They may be physical, due to injury, operations, medication or drugs, lifestyle etc. Or even result from mental and emotional factors such as stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
This is where the skill of the individual reflexologist will come into play in designing a course of treatment to meet the requirements of the individual, depending on the presenting condition (symptom or illness) and how the individual's body reacts to the treatment.
The treatments are given over a period of several weeks, so that the body has time to adjust, eliminate toxins, restore correct function and rebalance its systems. Giving too much stimulation too quickly can make the patient feel a little unwell and is therefore counter-productive. During this time the therapist and patient will also work together on basic lifestyle, and diet changes which can also add to the effectiveness of the treatment.
By the end of the course of treatments the patients body should be functioning correctly again, with all of its energetic systems balanced in relation to each other. The patient should feel energetic and healthy again. These effects are long lasting, and provided the patient remains in health there is no need for any more treatments to be given, although some patients do find it beneficial to have a treatment every month or two to boost their energy, for relaxation and to ensure that the body stays balanced.