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Updated on September 20, 2009

Reflexology Basics

Hand Reflexology can assist with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
Hand Reflexology can assist with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
Reflexology Foot Map
Reflexology Foot Map
Most Reflexology Techniques are performed on the feet due to their accessability
Most Reflexology Techniques are performed on the feet due to their accessability


Reflexology is the physical application of pressure to the feet or hand through specific thumb, finger and hand techniques, based on the system of zones and reflex areas that correspond to every organ of the body. Oil or lotion is not traditionally used during reflexology treatment sessions.


Reflexology is believed to work within the nervous system, using the same pressure sensors in the feet and hands that are also a part of the body's reflexive response to the "fight or flight" reaction to danger. When the brain is alerted that danger is present, the feet become ready to flee and the hands become prepared to fight, communicating with the body's internal organs that an emergency has arrived. The well known adrenal surge that enables people to do tasks that would be otherwise impossible, is brought about by this sudden reaction to fear and stress. Reflexology taps into this reflex network, creating an exercise of pressure sensors, that also effects the internal organs to which they correspond.


According to Reflexologists, Barbara and Kevin Kunz, a reflexology chart or map reflects every part of the body in the feet and hands, and serves as a map to target technique application to particular health goals. On the chart shown above, the left foot or hand reflects the left side of the body, while the right foot or hand reflects the right side. The reflex area of the spine runs down the insides of the foot and hand with the reflex areas of the arm and shoulder reflected towards the outside of the feet or hands. Kunz and Kunz hold that the toes and fingers mirror the head and neck as well as those body parts they encase. They also state that the ball of the foot mirrors the chest and upper back as well as the heart and lungs.

The waistline of the body is represented at the base of the long bones of the foot, about halfway down the foot, and the body parts above the waistline correspond to the area above this line. Those body parts below the waistline are mirrored below it. Likewise, internal organs lying above the waistline are represented by reflex areas above this line, while those below the waist correspond to reflex areas below it. While reflexology is typically performed using the feet, the hands also have reflex areas that represent every part of the body.


Reflexology is best known for its ability to relieve stress, and it is believed that this ability also leads to the reduction of many other problematic symptoms. While a reflexology session does create pleasant physical sensations, it is not merely a foot massage. The feet and hands set the tension level for other parts of the body, and also interrupt stress signals, resetting homeostasisis, or the body's balancing system.

Reflexology is believed to bring about the following benefits:

  • Relaxation
  • Pain reduction
  • Rejuvenation of tired feet
  • Amelioration of symptoms for health concerns
  • Improved blood flow
  • Positive effect of blood pressure and cholesterol levels as measured through ECG, EEG, and FMRI.
  • Aids in recovery after surgery, and assists in pain reduction.
  • Enhances the medical care related to phantom limb pain, hemodialysis treatments, and cancer.
  • Adjunct treatment to mental health related problems, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and drug addiction.
  • Assists with the pain, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety related to the care of cancer patients.
  • Reflexology can assist with the birth process through assisting with delivery, and post-partum recovery.


To obtain the full benefits from reflexology, it must be consistent, and many recommend daily applications morning, noon and at night.  Obviously, most of us are unable to have a reflexologist perform the techniques that often, so it is recommended that you visit your reflexologist as often as possible, and also receive instructions from him or her, on how to apply some of the techniques yourself, or have family members perform them for you.  According to the experts, reflexology techniques can often be applied while you are engaged in other activities, at your desk, or waiting in line at the grocery store.  The important aspect of reflexology is that you be consistent with your appointments, as well as with your own application of the techniques. 


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    • profile image

      guruofreflexology 5 years ago

      Reflexology is a new way to cure problems of the body. But it has nothing to do with palmistry and other arts of such kind.

      Some posts will provide a lot of good information about what is reflexology. People should take this seriously in order to understand it.

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Thanks, Sun-Girl. Glad you enjoyed it. (:v

    • Sun-Girl profile image

      Sun-Girl 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Great lecture you did in here which i was greatly informed and educated.At least i now know the meaning of reflexology.

    • profile image

      karrthik Ramje 7 years ago

      in regards to the above article i agree with this points as a practisin reflexologist from Chennai/Tamil Nadu /in INDIA this has been working out with a lot patients i have worked on inclusive diabetes. it helps reduce the sugar levels on multiple sessions my mail id:,

      web paage:

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Yes, 2 pats, I am definitely hooked on a good foot massage or reflexology treatment. I hated it when our reflexologist left Curves and I could no longer get them for free. Thanks for responding to my site. (:v

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      We did a course on reflexology a couple of years ago. It was very interesting, and we both enjoyed volunteering to have our feet massaged. Both of us find reflexology very relaxing, and believe it helps us to sleep better.