Can feet be to stress relief what eyes are to the soul?
Did you know that your feet reveal a lot about the health conditions afflicting your body?
It’s true—especially when you consult a reflexologist.
Your feet can tell this trained practitioner of an ancient version of massage therapy where your body needs healing, and may also be part of the cure.
Reflexology is one of thousands of natural alternatives that are thousands of years old. Like acupuncture, meditation, and many other integrative medical practices, it originated in Asia and many still practice it today.
The practice has been around for so long, that it even appears in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
That’s a good sign for those who seek natural alternatives for health and healing without surgery or powerful drugs.
How it works to identify and heal health problems
The underlying premise to this ancient therapy is that parts of our feet and hands connect and “communicate” with all our major organs and glands.
For example, too many stress hormones lead to several negative responses in your body. Muscles tighten up, and arteries and veins constrict.
Applying pressure to the corresponding part of your foot or hand can improve circulation in those tight spots. Nutrients, hormones, and other health-keeping compounds quickly can then flow freely and bring much-needed stress relief to those areas.
Sore or sensitive spots also speak volumes about the need for pain relief. They tell the massage therapist that a problem exists in the part of your body corresponding to those spots. When the masseuse puts pressure on those areas, the organs and glands respond. And in many cases, they begin to heal themselves.
What conditions can reflexology help?
As a treatment for an identified health problem, reflexology is used to treat (partial list):
- Ongoing (chronic) pain, especially cancer-related pain
- Chest pain (angina)
- Back pain
- Headache and muscle ache
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder
- Sinus conditions
- Multiple sclerosis
And ladies, reflexology can relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS and improve the flow of breast milk when you’re nursing.
On top of its wide array of therapeutic benefits, it’s also good for prevention and maintaining good health.
For instance, if you’re in good health, reflexology may help keep you in good health and feeling even more fine. Mental health studies strongly suggest that reflexology reduces anxiety and can even help fight off depression.
Reflexology is based on a concept virtually identical to that of widely practiced therapies like acupuncture, acupressure, and qi gong. It states that stress and disease cause constrictions in tissues. And these constrictions prevent or impede the flow of our natural, healing “bio-energy.”
Yet reflexology, like other alternative therapies before it, still has its critics. These tend to be scientists and physicians who want hard-core scientific data that prove the concept.
Who should go for reflexology?
Answer: Anyone and everyone, after consultation with your doctor.
The University of Portsmouth led the first scientific test of reflexology as a treatment for acute pain. The study found that reflexology reduced the pain of keeping one hand submerged in ice water (ouch) by 40 percent. It also helped subjects tolerate the pain for 45 percent longer than subjects not treated with reflexology. The research suggests that reflexology can be a welcome complementary practice in treating acute pain.
We would advise anyone with all types of pain to seriously consider reflexology for pain management. If you have headache, migraine, or any of the conditions listed above, consult your doctor about it.
Another first-time study observed women undergoing chemotherapy or hormonal therapy for advanced-stage breast cancer. To see whether reflexology complements standard cancer treatment, some were given reflexology treatments, others were not. The Michigan State University study found promising news for cancer patients. Those treated with reflexology managed pain-related symptoms and performed daily tasks better than those who weren’t.
Follow my lead
I have a reflexology massage twice a month with a board certified practitioner. The benefits to my overall health are invigorating. Each session leaves me feeling more energetic, fully functional, relaxed, alert, and raring to go.
Again, see your doctor first if you have any of the previously stated conditions.
Last Updated: May 21, 2020
Originally Published: June 26, 2015