Reflexology is a massage-based treatment that stems from the ancient idea that the foot is connected to all the organs in the body through energy channels. Much like acupuncture, reflexology believes that congestion in the body’s energy lines is what causes certain kinds of pain. Applying pressure and massaging nerve endings in the foot can signal parts of the body.
Although its origins are uncertain, the practice of reflexology as it is used today began in the 1930s. Reflexology has been shown to relieve a myriad of illnesses, including headaches, fatigue, sinusitis, thyroid imbalances, sleep disorders, asthma, digestive problems, pregnancy pains, arthritis and bronchitis. Reflexology is also used to improve circulation and stimulate a sense of well-being and relaxation.
Several studies and cases have also shown the effectiveness of reflexology in more severe medical problems. For example, several studies by oncology journals have found that cancer patients treated with reflexology experienced less anxiety and pain, as well as increased feelings of relaxation, comfort and well-being. Also, reflexology used on an Irish woman suffering from Crohn’s disease has proved highly beneficial in improving her daily life with the digestive disease.
Reflexology has been successfully used to relieve chronic pain and stiffness in the lower back caused by sciatica, sports injuries, exercise or improper posture. Additionally, pain or discomfort during treatment may help the therapist determine an underlying problem with no other present symptoms.
As with all treatments, there are certain precautions. Stay hydrated and wait one hour after a meal before having reflexology treatments. Women who are pregnant or menstruating should not undergo reflexology. As always, consult your physician before beginning a reflexology treatment plan.