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What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a type of treatment in which pressure is applied to specific small areas of the skin, mainly the hands and feet. It is a noninvasive, natural therapy that includes a deeply relaxed state, which alleviates tension, mild anxiety and depression from everyday living. A further effect is that it triggers the body’s own inner healing processes. It therefore relieves naturally many medical conditions over a period of time to achieve positive and lasting health benefits. The combination of treatment and relaxation creates a powerful tool and, if used together with skills in counseling and nutritional advice, it provides a total holistic health program.

Reflexology is a therapy in which pressure is applied to reflex points on the hands, feet, and also the ears. It is based on the principle that these reflex points are related to the internal organs and glands, and are laid out in the same arrangement as that in the physical body, forming a “map,” or microcosm, of it. Pressure or palpation on a reflex point can therefore affect these structures. This treatment helps to stimulate the normal function of the organ involved (for instance, secretion of a hormone or digestive enzyme), and thus aids self-healing, bringing about physical and mental well-being.


Reflexology divides up the foot and hand into four transverse sections. 

  • The first transverse zone: Stretching from the tips to the bases of the toes and fingers, relating to the neck area and above and being bounded by a line known as the cervical line.
  • The second transverse zone: lying below the first one, encompassing the ball of the foot and the padded area beneath the fingers, and is related to the organs of the thoracic cavity and bounded by a line known as the diaphragm line.
  • The third transverse zone: Relating to the abdominal cavity, reaching to, on the foot, a line drawn from the bulge on the outside edge of the foot (anatomically, this is the fifth metatarsal or foot bone notch), and , on the hands, a line from the base of the web between the thumb and index finger; this is called the waistline.
  • The fourth transverse zone:  Measured from this line down to, on the foot, the bulge found on the side of the ankle, and on the hand, a line running around the wrist at the level of the base of the fleshy part of the thumb, this the pelvic line.

The Body Systems and The Reflex Points

The body systems do not function in isolation, but are interdependent and also rely on the finely tuned balance of every organ within that system. Each of the body systems is represented on particular areas of the foot and hand. In general, however, as you go down the body there is a progression of reflex areas from the tips of the digests to the heel of the foot or base of the hand, so the brain and head reflex areas are found around the digits, the chest and thorax areas at the front of the foot and hand, the abdominal regions in the middle, and the reproductive organs of the lower trunk and the pelvis at the rear of the foot and the base of the hand.

reflex points

Reflexology was developed to work on these zonal energy pathways. In recent years, reflexologists have also begun to incorporate the acupressure techniques of “Traditional Chinese Medicine (Known as T.C.M.) into their treatment. Although reflexology is based on the theory of zones rather than on the meridian theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, reflexology treatment does also contact many of the known acupuncture points. Both treatments are based on the principle that specific points can be manipulated to bring about a therapeutic effect in other areas of the body.

How Does Reflexology Work?

By applying palpation or alternating pressure on reflex points, a reflexologist first detects areas of imbalance and congestion within the body systems, and then aims to restore the body’s natural equilibrium and encourage the body to heal itself at its own pace.

Any physical therapy involves stimulation to the touch-sensitive sensory cells on the surface of the skin, called receptor cells. Stimulation of the reflex points on the skin sends messages from these cells through nerve pathways to the control centers inside the body, which send other messages back to the effector (muscles or internal organs ) (as shown in the below picture). In a reflex pathway, the message follows a relatively simple circuit, in which the spinal and lower, primitive brain centers receive the message and send out a directive for the response required straight back to the muscles or internal organ. The higher conscious control centers in the brain are not always involved.

How does Reflexology work


The benefits of Reflexology are:

Reflexology for common problems:

There are a variety of common conditions for which reflexology will provide specific relief. According to Chinese philosophy, the emotions play a very important role in the maintenance of health and prevention of illness. T.C.M. contends that the emotions are linked to the five solid (Yin) organs of the body known as the Zang (comprising the Lungs, Heart, Spleen, Liver and Kidneys), which are thought to be linked to all the fundamental substances of the body and how they are regulated, stored, and manufactured. If the emotions become unbalanced over a period of time, the physical body will degenerate accordingly.

There are many different categories of disease: viral, bacterial, parasitic, and autoimmune disorders, the latter occurring when the body loses its ability to protect itself because it does not recognize its own antibodies, and this results in inflammation and destruction of tissues. For all these problems, the practice of Reflexology offers a holistic approach, whereby the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional states are all taken into account before treatment starts. Reflexologists will assess all the common problems contributing to a patient’s ill-health. By working and stimulating the reflex that corresponds to the presenting problem, pain relief is often felt, even though the reflex may be far from the particular organ or body part in question. By working the reflexes, endorphins will be released, bringing a balance of inner life forces and encouraging the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

Musculoskeletal Problems

Reflexology is a powerful pain remover in both muscular and skeletal conditions. Toxic build-up may cause rheumatic ache and pains, but this, too, can be helped greatly by reflexology. Other problems that can be helped include fibromyalgia, repetitive strain injury, and frozen shoulder.

Nervous Problems

Disorders connected to the nervous system include painful conditions such as sciatica (radiating lower back pain) and neuralgia (nerve pain), stress related conditions including insomnia, nervous delibity, and depression. The natural treatment of Reflexology will work on the chemistry of the nervous system, which in time may cause a normalizing of both enzyme and endocrine function.


Stress is defined as any stimulus or factor that threatens the health of the body or has an adverse effect on its functioning. Reflexology cannot remove the stress, but it can help the stress responses that may arise. It is relaxing, giving an inner tranquility, which helps you to cope better with stressful situation. It also helps many of the physical symptoms that may have arisen, balancing the whole biological system on which our health depends.