The art of reflexology has been around for thousands of years. It's believed to have originated with the ancient Egyptians as well as the Chinese. Energy is thought to move through the body - as it moves through other living organisms – in channels. These channels are called meridians. Every part of the foot can be separated into zones that reflect a part of the body or meridian.
The concept behind reflexology is that pressure is placed in a certain section of the foot, and in turn, that corresponds with a certain area of the body. For example, a spot on the top of the foot will provide relief from pain in the head and promote restorative sleep.
If the foot receives a complete, thorough massage, it's as if the entire body received the massage as well (read more about the benefits of full body massages here). It's surprisingly easy to do foot reflexology at home and your whole body will thank you for it.
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Practitioners of reflexology believe that pain in the body is actually energy that is being blocked from flowing through the meridians properly. When energy flow is limited, the person's chi, as it's called, results in negative energy stagnating in the body. Negative energy is thought to result in pain in the corresponding areas as well as disease and certain health conditions.
With over 7,000 nerve endings in the feet connected to the entire body through the nervous system, it's not so impossible to understand how a foot massage can be so beneficial to the wellness of the entire body.
When the meridians are clear and unblocked, a person's positive chi can flow freely, and there's a harmony that allows the mind and the body to work efficiently. This means that the person's mind and body are experiencing no pain, anxiety, depression or fatigue. When the balance is disturbed, the body and mind aren't existing in pain free harmony together.
Pain relief can be achieved by bringing the mind and body back in balance with each other. Tension and stress can be very real blockages to pain relief, so relaxation is one of the keys to pain reduction (1).
Stress reduction (2) is what most people associate with a foot massage. While it's meant to relieve sore feet for the most part, many people ask their significant other for a massage because they're stressed. After a hard day at work, a foot massage is incredibly therapeutic.
Reflexology isn't only a massage with fingers, it's a specific sequence of finger and thumb walking over the zones of the foot. The reflexologist will also use the entire hand to knead the zones of the foot. It should never be painful or uncomfortable except if there are tender parts of the foot.
There's a certain level of warmth after a foot massage where reflexology was used.
Aside from the obvious emotional impact of being less stressed and more relaxed, the massage increases circulation through the entire body. It also can impact the digestive system (3), which also removes toxins from the body. This leaves the person with the need to pee after a session as well as a huge thirst as the waste of toxins is removed from the body.
Technicians experienced in reflexology recommend that before and after a session, you refrain from consuming alcohol.
Important: Those who have diabetes or a pacemaker might need to rethink a reflexology session since it can have an impact on the body's organs.
The Foot Massage: Reflexology in Action
Finally, this is where you'll learn how to give yourself a reflexology massage in the comfort of your own home. You'll need a comfortable chair where you'll be able to cross one leg over the other to access the bottom of your foot.
If you're comfortable on the floor, you might want to use a soft towel to rest your foot. It will depend on your flexibility level. Make sure you're not slouched or feeling any pain during the massage. Also, consider using a foot massage oil.
Once you've found an easy position, you can begin. Here's an acupressure foot chart which you'll need to locate the pressure points on your foot.
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Step 1: With a look at the foot massage reflexology chart, you'll need to identify what area of the body you'd like to focus your attention. If you have migraines, identify where you'll need to press to access the zone that corresponds to the head. If you have neck pain, that's the area you should pinpoint. It'll show you exactly where to press for the results you want.
Step 2: Press the thumb into the spot you've identified. You shouldn't be digging hard enough for actual pain. Press deeply and knead the area on one foot before switching to the other foot. Take on the next pressure point until you've targeted all the points to be treated.
While it's recommended that you perform this massage each day, there will come a time when the pressure points have become overstimulated. You'll have to avoid massaging those areas for a few days to give them a break. After a few days, you can focus on the zones again.
The image below explains the main benefits of reflexology.
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