What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a gentle, non-invasive holistic therapy involving a specific pressure technique applied with the thumbs and fingers, NOT to be confused with massage, that works on precise “reflex” points on the feet or hands. It is based on the principle that these reflex points correspond to particular organs, glands and structures in the body – the “Anatomical Reflection Theory”.
In stimulating these reflex points we can bring about a state of deep relaxation and stimulate the body’s own healing process, enabling the person to achieve a more balanced state. As with all holistic therapies, reflexology is believed to influence the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual, helping them to cope better with everyday life.
The History of Reflexology
Reflexology is essentially a relatively modern therapy beginning with the development of “zone therapy” in the early 1900’s by Dr William Fitzgerald who noted that reflex areas in the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs within the same zone.
In the 1930’s Eunice Ingham further developed the zone theory into what we now term classical reflexology. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding area of the body.
Undoubtedly many of the ancient cultures such as the Eygptians, Indians and Chinese appear to have used some form of “foot therapy” possibly not dissimilar to modern reflexology, however its exact use and application is something we cannot be certain of.
Current Reflexology Practice
Reflexology as a therapy is changing and developing, the basic techniques of classical reflexology have over the years been added to and altered by individual practitioners who have experimented and found their own little “improvements”. This has, in turn, seen the development in the last two decades of new approaches to reflexology and a growing understanding of how this therapy may actually work. Many of these newer techniques are now taught at post graduate level and cover a wide variety of topics; e.g. maternity reflexology, light touch reflex therapy, vertical reflexology, facial reflexology…… the list is quite extensive.
As a therapy, reflexology still has a long way to go in convincing the medical profession of its efficacy. Unfortunately reflexology is extremely difficult to analyse using standard clinical research methodology; base lines, control groups, standardised methods and protocols. It would take considerable amounts of time and money to produce the quality of research that the medical world regards as acceptable and sadly we know that in the current financial climate this is simply not going to happen. Added to which there is a divide between the classical reflexologists and those using newer techniques and practicing with a more open minded view of the theories behind the “science” of reflexology.
For now we have to accept that there is currently very limited research available. However, there is growing anecdotal evidence from the increasing numbers of people who are using reflexology to address a range of ailments and who report significant benefits.
Having qualified in classical reflexology in 2001, I have since attended many post graduate training courses. From a personal perspective I found that the theories, ideology and methods of working used in Chi-Reflexology answered many of the questions I had about reflexology and consequently altered my approach to, and understanding of, holistic/complementary therapies in general. Studying Chi-Reflexology was effectively the spring-board that led me to develop a completely new approach to reflexology; Zu Qigong.
At Footpath Therapies I now practice a “fusion” of reflexology techniques i.e. Zu Qigong and Chi-Reflexology. Clients booking a reflexology treatment will receive a combination of these techniques appropriate to their specific needs. If you have previously had classical reflexology treatments then please be aware that this is likely to be a very different experience.