Reflexology is based on the premise that there are zones and reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to all glands, organs, parts and systems of the body. Applying pressure to these reflex areas, using the thumb, finger and hand will result in the reduction of stress which promotes physiological changes in the body.
By stimulating the reflexes on the feet an involuntary response is elicited in organs and glands connected to these specific reflexes. this sets a chain reaction in motion which causes physiological changes to occur throughout the body systems. The desired objective of Reflexology is to restore homeostasis (balance) to the body in a gentle and non-invasive manner.
There is no consensus on how reflexology is supposed to work; a unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one's qi.
History of Reflexology
The most concrete evidence of the practice of reflexology in ancient culture was the discovery of this wall painting depicting the practice of hand and foot reflexology in the tomb of Ankhmahor (highest official after the Pharaoh) at Saqqara, which is also known as the physicians tomb. This Egyptian wall painting is dated at the 6th dynasty, about 2330 B.C.. Prior to this discovery it was widely believed that reflexology had ancient origins and frequent conjecture was made about its relationship to and development alongside the ancient Oriental practices of shiatsu and acupuncture. Similarly, North and South American Indian medicine men are believed to manipulate and stimulate the feet as a part of their healing practice.
In the western culture one of the earliest books to be written on reflexology was published in 1582 by two eminent European physicians, Dr. Adamus and Dr. A'tatis. A second book by a Dr. Bell was published shortly after this in Leipzig.
It was, however, a Dr. William H. Fitzgerald who advanced and developed the initial popular practice of reflexology in contemporary Western society. Dr. Fitzgerald studied at the University of Vermont and graduated in 1895. For two and a half years he practiced medicine in Boston City Hospital before transferring to the Central London Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, England. How Dr. Fitzgerald originated his research in this area remains a mystery. Conjecture has been made that he discovered his ideas in Europe and brought them to North America. Alternatively, it is suggested that, in his desire to develop a method of anesthesia and analgesia for minor surgery, he noted the instinctive tight gripping of a chair arm by patients in their response to pain, and began to explore that phenomenon. In 1913 he brought his initial findings to the attention of the medical profession while he was head of the Nose and Throat Department of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. He had discovered that pressure, when applied to certain points on the body could relieve pain and improve the functions of certain organs of the body. In his research Dr. Fitzgerald developed a new system of ten zones running from the top of the head to the tips of the toes and hands. Dr. Edwin Bowers, medical critic and writer, investigated Dr. Fitzgerald's claims, appeased his skepticism, and jointly authored with Dr. Fitzgerald the book "Zone Therapy" - the name by which reflexology was known until the early 1960's.
Benefits of Reflexology
Enhanced Blood Flow
Lessened Fatigue and Increased Energy Levels
Types of Reflexology
FOOT REFLEXOLOGY: Foot reflexology is a method of stimulating reflex areas of the feet that relax and rejuvenate each and every part of the body including the glands and organs.
HAND REFLEXOLOGY: Hand reflexology employs the same techniques as foot reflexology. In the past, it was used primarily when working on the hand was more convenient: i.e. if the feet were injured or amputated, or, as an alternative to working on the feet.
EAR REFLEXOLOGY: Ear reflexology is the most recent development in reflexology, and it has evolved out of "Auricular Therapy" or acupuncture of the ears. Ear reflexology refers to physical stimulation of the reflex areas of the ears without the use of needles. The techniques used in ear reflexology are different to those used with the feet and hands, primarily because of the different size of the ears.