What Is Reflexology? Top 8 Benefits Of Reflexology

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Mmm, there’s nothing more relaxing than a massage. It’s a great way to relax and unwind from life’s stresses. But sometimes we’re suffering from more than just regular aches and pains. And that’s when a simple massage just won’t do.

When you’re suffering from things like intense back pain or sinusitis, can reflexology help? What’s the scientific backing behind this form of treatment? Keep on reading to find out.

What Is Reflexology Massage? Does Reflexology Work?

Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to the hands and feet in order to alleviate pain and relieve stresses in the body. The idea behind reflexology is that there are certain ‘reflex areas’ in the hands and feet which are energetically linked to certain organs and body parts via energy channels in the body.

It’s believed that by applying pressure to these reflex areas, a reflexologist can remove energy blockages to encourage health in the blocked areas. For example, according to reflexology, the tips of the toes are related to the head. It holds that the heart and chest are linked to the ball of the foot; the liver, pancreas, and kidneys are connected to the arch of the foot; and the lower back and intestines are related to the heel.

Practices similar to reflexology have been around since the days of ancient Egypt and China. William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, alongside Edwin F. Bowers, introduced modern reflexology to the United States in 1913. Eunice D. Ingham, a nurse and physical therapist, later revised the technique in the 1930s and 1940s. She held that the hands and feet were sensitive areas, and she really developed the ‘zone area’ reflexology that we practice today.

Just how effective is reflexology? There are some people who swear by it. Others are more skeptical. The truth of the matter is that while reflexology has helped people, the evidence is basically anecdotal. There simply isn’t enough clinical evidence out there to say that reflexology is scientifically proven to work. Yet there have been some small trials which found that reflexology can help relieve pain, improve circulation and encourage relaxation. Overall, it’s hard to say if reflexology can really help cure your physical ailments. But it is generally low-risk, which is why many people opt to try it.

Top 8 Benefits Of Reflexology

1. Reflexology For Headaches 

Woman with eyes closed holding forehead.

Woman with headache.

If you’re suffering from headaches, you might want to give reflexology a try. According to reflexology each part of the body is linked to another area, and the head is connected to a person’s toes. To help with headaches, a reflexologist can stimulate the head’s nerve endings in the toes. This will help release blocked energy, boost circulation, and relax muscles.

The big toe is the first step in treating headaches. Typically, you can find sore areas on the toes or the base of the toes where they connect with the rest of the foot.

Immediately under the big toe is the neck reflex. Under the small toe is the shoulder reflex. And on top of the foot, in between the big toe and the toe next to it, is an area that’s especially relevant for those seeking reflexology for migraines. Reflexology can help relieve symptoms of migraines in the short term, but it might even be able to help rid a person of migraines completely.

2.  Face Reflexology Explained

Certain individuals performing face reflexology focus on the appearance effects of the technique (a reflexology version of a facelift), while others focus on internal problems such as sinusitis, circulation problems, organ dysfunction, and cancer.

The face has a whopping 15 points that connect to other areas in your body! The chin connects to the kidney and the bladder. The bottom lip connects to the intestines, while the upper lip is linked to the stomach. Above the lip relates to the spleen, and the tip of the nose is linked to the heart. The sides of the nose are connected to the lungs, and the ears to the kidneys. Eyebrows are also related to the kidneys as well as the liver, while the upper corners of the forehead correspond to the gall bladder.

After facial reflexology, some people report improvements in insomnia. It can also help bond facial skin and muscles and improve facial tone.

3. Baby Reflexology

Close up of baby feet.

Newborn baby feet.

While many medical treatments aren’t appropriate for young children, reflexology is actually quite popular in the baby community. When we think that babies are just babbling nonsense, they’re really trying to ask us to schedule them a reflexology appointment…

Okay okay, jokes aside, reflexology is actually a generally safe way to help relieve pain in babies. Many parents will even naturally massage their children’s feet or hands when the babies are in distress. This calms them by feeling their parent’s soothing touch, but the other layer of this is the reflexology benefits this action produces.

The arches in babies’ feet are undeveloped, and their skin and bones are softer than that of adults. Therefore, applying low pressure to certain areas of the feet can quickly release blockages in the rest of the body. This can help to relieve stomach pains or constipation.

If your baby was born with the help of forceps or ventouse, reflexology can once again come in handy. These birthing processes can cause pressure on the bones of the skull, and the bones might become slightly misaligned. In these cases, reflexology can help as an easy way to correct the alignment.

4.  Reflexology For Constipation

It should be noted that reflexology should never take the place of regular medicine, but it can be used in addition to or as an immediate treatment if you are stuck without another option. That being said, some people find reflexology very helpful in relieving constipation.

Use the Thumb Walking technique in order to activate the reflexes in the bowels and the intestines. The idea is just that have your thumb move by itself along your foot by bending and unbending it. If you Thumb Walk one way and then the other way across the part of your foot which connects to your small intestines, it should help ease your symptoms. Start with your right foot and then move to the left one. Then Thumb Walk across your foot horizontally to the middle of the foot. Then repeat the process across the part of the foot which corresponds to the large intestines. You can do the patterns 5 times in order to achieve optimal results.

5. Reflexology For Sinus

Side view of woman with curly hair calm and deep breathing.

Woman breathing deeply.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the tissue lining of the sinuses. And while it can result in super uncomfortable symptoms, reflexology might be able to help. The reflexology points for sinuses are at the back of your toes and the tips of your fingers (except for your thumbs).

The main part of your body connected to the reflexology point of the sinuses is the top and bottom of your big toes. Hold your toe with your forefinger and start rubbing it with your thumb in soft, circular motions. Do this on your right foot for a minute and then your left foot for a minute, and then repeat once.

Hand reflexology can also have your sinuses feeling better. For instance, if you place pressure on the joint between your thumb and your index finger for 2 minutes, you can minimize nasal pain. And putting pressure on the back of your wrist, an area known as the inner gate, can help relieve sinus issues. Lastly, putting pressure on the space right behind your nails can also help you.

6. Reflexology To Induce Labor

When it feels like you’ve been pregnant for 7 years and you’re trying to figure out what to do, you might want to turn to reflexology. One technique is applying pressure to the toe pads, which connect to the pituitary gland. The pressure should last for 2-3 minutes, first on the right side and then on the left side. What does this do? It helps induce uterine contractions. This is because the pituitary gland releases oxytocin, the hormone that induces labor. If you feel the baby moving a lot during the treatment, or even start experiencing some contractions, this is normal.

The spleen is also related to inducing labor. Its corresponding part is on the inner leg, about 3-4 fingers above your ankle. Applying pressure here can help bring on labor contractions.

7. Reflexology Foot Pain Relief 

Close up of bare feet on beach.

Bare feet.

If you’re on your feet a lot throughout the day, chances are that you know the struggles of foot pain. And while we’ve discussed a lot of pressure points on your foot that can help other parts of your body, can something be done for the foot itself?

Indeed, reflexology can also help you have happy feet. It’s especially popular among people who participate in sports such as golf or running. It can help the body heal more quickly, while the relaxing nature of reflexology can also help a person unwind and feel better. Foot reflexology is particularly helpful for treating pain and tiredness in the legs.

8. Reflexology For Back Pain

Never fear, reflexology is here to help you handle your back pain! It’s been shown to help minimize back pain and reduce it from severe to mild.

If you’re suffering from lower back pain, apply pressure to the soles of your feet, the area around your heel and ankle, and the inner edge of each of your feet (which is the reflex point for your spine). Upper back pain is connected to the reflex points of your shoulders and upper back. These are connected to the soles of your feet and also the tops, right under the base of your toes. Massaging the lower arch-edge part of your foot for a few minutes can help with general back pain.

The reflexes for your sciatic nerve start right behind your ankle and then go up for a bit. When irritated, this nerve can cause intense pain. Gently pressing on the area which corresponds to the sciatic nerve and sliding your fingers can boost blood flow to the area. Therefore, doing this for a few minutes daily can prevent unwanted pain.

Is Reflexology Safe?

Overall, reflexology is a low-risk treatment option. While science has still not definitively concluded whether it is effective or not, it is generally safe enough that most people are willing to give it a shot.

Yet there are certain precautions you should take before beginning reflexology. And of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting with any type of treatment. If you’ve had a recent foot or hand injury such as a fracture and are still recovering, you should of course stay away from performing reflexology on those areas. Women who are pregnant should make sure to tell their reflexologist about this, as it will affect the areas that the reflexologist works on. And if you’re suffering from thrombosis or an embolism, you should avoid reflexology. This is because reflexology works to improve circulation, which could make a blood clot move in a dangerous way.

Conclusion

I personally haven’t used reflexology yet- luckily I haven’t begun suffering from any intense pains thus far. But based on all of the info that’s out there, I would definitely be willing to give reflexology a try.

I appreciate that it’s low risk and is essentiallya more sophisticated massage. I feel that the soothing effects of the treatment alone would be enough to help me somewhat. Plus, it is pretty cool to think about the different parts of your body and how they’re all connected, so I would definitely be willing to see if reflexology would work on me.

There are plenty of people out there who swear by it. Others are still unsure, saying that not enough studies have been done to prove its efficacy. But I also don’t think anyone has proven that it doesn’t work, so you should consider giving it a try. After all, if you can find an easy and non-invasive way to treat some of your major issues, why not go for it?