Reflexology is believed to originate from ancient Egyptian practices, and has since evolved into the more structured treatment that is practised today. It is based on the principle that each system of the body has a corresponding point on the foot/ ankle area which is connected by an energetic pathway, in a similar manner to acupressure. This therapy is most commonly used on the feet, but can also be used on the hands or ears.
In reflexology the body is divided into ‘zones’ and ‘maps’ with each corresponding to different areas of the body, physical systems, or organs. There are 10 longitudinal zones: imagine a mid line down the centre of your body, from head to toe, with 5 equal energy lines down each side. These correlate with the feet and hands – so the energy lines follow the lines of each finger through to the wrist, or each toe toward the ankle. In addition there are also transverse (horizontal) zones, and foot maps which correspond to specific areas such as the liver, heart or lungs.
In a reflexology session, gentle pressure is applied systematically to areas of the feet, using the therapists’s hands. If there is an underlying problem in a specific area of the body, for example the stomach, this will often be felt in the corresponding area by the person receiving the treatment. The therapist can also detect ‘imbalances’ and release energetic blocks and tension. This restoration of energetic balance is a central feature of the therapy. Depleted ‘chi’ or ‘life force’ energy is believed to predispose to illness, whereas a healthy flow of the same energy creates vitality and well-being. In this way reflexology is similar to many Eastern models of mind-body health, which use a similar concept of energy flow.
Reflexology is performed fully clothed except for removal of socks and footwear. It is suitable for most people, unless they have a vascular or infectious condition affecting the feet. It is especially useful for people with mobility restrictions as it can be done seated in a chair if required.