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Reflexology: A Gentle Natural Healing Method

Updated on October 12, 2015

Reflexology for You: A Natural Healing Art

I had the delightful experience of receiving a foot reflexology session from a friend of mine while she was working toward her certification as a reflexologist. I came away from the session with a strong sense of physical and mental well-being. I highly recommend experiencing a reflexology session for yourself!

Reflexology is a complementary natural healing method that involves applying pressure to "reflex zones" on the feet, hands, and even the ears. These reflex zones are thought to correspond to other parts of the body.

The Reflexology Association of Canada defines reflexology as:

"A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears and their referral areas within zone related areas, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes without the use of tools, creams or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body."

You can also learn enough reflexology to treat yourself, or friends and loved ones for common, minor health problems. Reflexology is a good way to promote self-healing.

Early form of reflexology
Early form of reflexology | Source

A Short History of Reflexology

The practice of reflexology, or something very similar, is probably ancient.

The wall painting shown above was found in an Egyptian tomb called "the Physicians Tomb", and it suggests that the people in the painting are practicing an early version of reflexology. The painting dates back to 2330 B.C. The hieroglyphics read -- "Do not let it be painful" says one of the patients and "I do as you please" says one of the practitioners.

There is also evidence of something like reflexology being used in China perhaps as long ago as 4000 B.C., and Native North Americans using a similar method for hundreds of years. (Although none of this should be surprising, in my opinion, since I'm guessing that therapeutic hand and foot massages have always been around in most cultures!)

Around 1900, Dr. William Fitzgerald discovered that when he applied pressure on certain areas of the feet or the hands, corresponding parts of the body were anesthetized. From this information, he divided the body into 10 "zones" running from the top of the head through the tips of the toes, and through the tips of the fingers. If you divide each foot into five areas, starting at each toe and going all the way up through the body, you get these zones. To see a map of the zones on the feet and the rest of the body read The History of Reflexology

A few years later after working with these zones, Eunice Ingham developed a more elaborate map of the feet that corresponded to the rest of the body. In reflexology "The feet are the mirror of the body". (Or the hands or ears, but Eunice felt that working with the feet was more effective.) This is the basis of "modern" reflexology.

A Reflexology Foot Chart

Reflexology Foot Chart
Reflexology Foot Chart | Source

Reflexology self-treatment

Learn to alleviate common ailments

I am a person who likes to take charge of my own health -- I've always been that way! So I've been pleased to discover that there are a number of resources that can help teach people how to use reflexology for common health problems.

Reflexology self-care is for relatively minor health problems only! If I had a serious illness, I would seek professional help from a certified reflexologist along with appropriate medical treatments. Any ethical reflexologist will tell you that this method is not meant to be a substitute for appropriate medical treatment, but that it can assist the body's natural healing mechanisms.

Many of our medical problems originate from tension and stress. In general, reflexology isn't intended to "cure" diseases or ailments, but is mostly used as a relaxation tool. It's a good method of finding where more tension is held in our body. If certain areas of the foot (or hand) are sore or tense, this may indicate that the corresponding parts of the body are stressed. Applying pressure and massage to these "tender" areas of the feet or hands can help to relax the reflexes that are connected to other parts of the body. This promotes the natural healing process.

Benefits of reflexology treatment include improving lymphatic drainage and circulation, relaxing the muscles, and stimulating nerve connections. This results in an overall feeling of well-being which helps to promote healing.

Free Online Reflexology Foot and Hand Maps

The most helpful and interesting source I've found online for this beneficial and gentle self-treatment is the Free interactive reflexology maps page, which includes maps of the feet and the hands.

When you go to the page, roll your cursor over the different segments of the feet (or the hands on the hands map) and it will light up the different areas of the body that these segments correspond to.

Reflexology books - by Barbara and Kevin Kunz

Of course there are many good books about reflexology. Since Barbara and Kevin Kunz have provided their wonderful online interactive reflexology maps free of charge (see the link in the previous paragraph), I'm including a couple of their books here (from Amazon).

"Introduction to Reflexology" YouTube video

The first two minutes of this video gives some of the theoretical background of reflexology, and the rest shows and explains some of the technique.

Other useful reflexology tools - Handy reflexology charts

These are useful reflexology references for self-treatment or treating your family and friends. There are even reflexology socks, with the foot map printed on the sock for direct reference!

Good reflexology demonstration - Foot massage

Informative, professional demonstration of reflexology techniques for the feet. It looks delightful, doesn't it?

Have you tried reflexology? - What did you think?

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    • StephenAZ profile image

      StephenAZ 4 years ago

      Nice lens! I have been a massage therapist since 1990 and received certificate in reflexology in 2000. I like that people are realizing reflexology is not a "foot rub" or "foot massage". Like your lens and links showed, there are distinct areas, zones and points that need to be addressed in different ways. Thanks for sharing this info with everyone!

    • CanHealthInsure profile image

      CanHealthInsure 5 years ago

      This is a good lens

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Yes I have given and received reflexology and I do find it very beneficial.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I'm a professional reflexologist, and I think the best way to help yourself with reflexology is to use hand reflexology, which is pretty easy to learn. :) Blessed!

    • profile image

      reflexologytoptips 5 years ago

      Love it - having been a therapist for many years I am a great advocate of it

    • profile image

      lovemicheala 5 years ago

      I haven't tried it before, but really pleased I can learn for myself. Thanks for sharing, enjoyable and interesting lens!

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      My former husband and myself taught ourselves how to do it from reading books. I totally believe in it. It really works. I used to have severe hayfever and a reflexology treatment was the only thing that would stop an attack. Sadly, I can't find anyone who knows how to give a good treatment and it is really hard to give yourself one, although it can be done.

    • profile image

      bine58 6 years ago

      Enjoyed your lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I would love to take a class on reflexology, thanks for sharing!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I was just thinking that I so needed a foot massage bath. I was going to have one yesterday and didn't get around to it so tonight is the night. Thank you so much for the reminder of how important it is.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 6 years ago from Michigan

      An excellent lens with lots of very useful information which could help a lot of people! Love those interactive maps!

    • makeupbrush profile image

      makeupbrush 6 years ago

      I am looking into reflexology as a way to maintain balance since my health is going downhill lately. Loved the information presented here!

    • profile image

      MemoryMistress 6 years ago

      I have not tried reflexology yet, and I can't wait to learn more about it! This is a great lens, I really like the demonstrations and most of all, the hieroglyphics from Egypt. Thank you.

    • spiritualll profile image

      spiritualll 6 years ago

      I am going to create another lens where I will post many interpreted dreams so that everyone be able to fight his or her anti-conscience and develop all his four psychological functions:feelings,thoughts sensations and intuitions... we need all development because huuman race is quite primitive.

      I will tell also almost everything I have learned from my mentor about the meaning of all religions.

      By the way:very nice lens! Reflexology is my favourite alternative medicine after dreamtherapy.

    • Gerald McConway profile image

      Gerald McConway 6 years ago

      Great information. Reflexology is extremely beneficial and something everyone can benefit from. I have used it to help with tendinitis and it has worked wonders for me.

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • semas profile image

      semas 7 years ago

      Yes!Foot Reflexology is part of a yoga method I follow and it is truly helpful.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 7 years ago

      Ahh spa...I'd go for a reflexology treatment any day. Appreciated all your great info and spark to learn more so that I can treat my hubby to a beneficial foot rub (perhaps he will reciprocate). When my boys were little I used to pay them a quarter for a five minute foot rub ( was 30 or more because they could not tell time yet :) and it was always the perfect end to a full day on my feet.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 7 years ago

      I love those interactive charts of corresponding organs for the feet and hands. Reflexology and accupressure are used all the time in our house- in my opinion families could do a lot more for each other just by rubbing one another's hands and feet.. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yes, I have used reflexology for years. I really does help.

      Great information and idea for a lens topic!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have tried learning the basics before and I enjoyed it very much but I just did not pursue it. I do enjoy a foot massage once in a while. Liked reading the history here.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very cool! This explains why a good foot massage makes the whole body feel good. I've always wanted to learn reflexology. Thank you for sharing such great resources and information!

    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      @RedSportNiac: Thanks! Even if you don't have the time to understand it, just a good thorough foot rub does wonders too, in my opinion :-)

    • profile image

      charity7 7 years ago

      I loved this lens! I always wanted to now what reflexology was all about.

    • profile image

      RedSportNiac 7 years ago

      I am interested with reflexology but just don't have the time to understand it. Anyhow well done with this lens.

    • Kyecerulian profile image

      Kyecerulian 7 years ago

      Very helpful! The included map explains why I always like foot rubs in specific place. Thanks!

    • corinnemwestphal profile image

      corinnemwestphal 7 years ago

      I'm a big fan of relexology. Really enjoyed this lens! Thanks for all the good info.

    • profile image

      grannysage 7 years ago

      My previous husband and I taught ourselves reflexology. We used it a lot, for havyfever attacks, headaches, and to relax our children. We also learned acupressure which came really in handy when I was in labor. I got one of those acupressure foot massagers when I worked at Walmart and my feet hurt all the time. That would be a good thing to ad to your Amazon modules. It certainly kept me walking.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Reflexology treatments are lovely - but don't forget to drink lots of water afterwards! I did a course in complementary therapies and the best bit was we got to practise on each other. The reflexology massage gave me a lovely floaty relaxed feeling. Great lens here! 5*

    • profile image

      hNizam 8 years ago

      I think this is a first lens produce about " reflexology " . Great idea and good information . 5* for you ....

    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 8 years ago from U.S.

      @norma-holt: The massage machine sounds absolutely wonderful! Thanks so much for the blessing!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 8 years ago

      Wonderful report on this ancient art of healing. Yes, I have tried it and have recently bought a massage machine to give myself acupuncture, massage and other treatments, Great lens, blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust


    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 8 years ago from U.S.

      @myraggededge: Thanks so much for the blessing! I do indeed feel the tickle on my toes :-)

    • profile image

      myraggededge 8 years ago

      I certainly have tried it. I qualified with the International Institution of Reflexology several years ago but don't use it as much as I should. This is a great lens on the subject and I hope you make more of them. Feel that tickle on your toes? That's the soft brushing of an Angel's wing. Blessed :-)