…an Introduction to Reflexology

We get so many questions about what forms of massage and therapy to
use. Frankly, there are so many beneficial forms of natural therapy that it
would be impossible to spotlight all of them, though we will try in
upcoming eColumns.

However, since we have spent more than a half-century studying and
applying the therapy known as
reflexology, that is the perfect place to
In the 1930’s Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory, noting that congestion or
tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.  

Reflexology is based on the knowledge that the body is divided into 10 longitudinal zones—
five on each side of the body—and each organ or part of the body is represented on the
hands and feet;

A knowledgeable practitioner can diagnose abnormalities by feeling the hands or feet,
then massaging or pressing each area to stimulate the flow of energy, blood, nutrients and
nerve impulses to the corresponding body zone and thereby seek to relieve ailments in
that zone.

Today, while many people simply use reflexology as a way of relaxing the mind and body to
counteract stress, an increasing number of health care professionals have started to
recognize reflexology as a well established, respected and effective therapy.

How does reflexology help you?
We have found that just about anyone can benefit from regular therapy.

There are 7,200 nerve endings in each foot, which are tied directly through the spinal cord
and brain with all other areas of the body.

To use a modern analogy, your feet are a computer print-out of what is happening
throughout your body.

As such, your feet are a literal goldmine of opportunity to release stress and enhance

Reflexology can be used to help restore and maintain the body’s natural balance. This
gentle therapy encourages the body to work naturally to restore itself. As such, reflexology
is a complementary therapy, which works on the feet to help heal the whole person, not
just individualized symptoms.  

Through the years, we have seen reflexology to be helpful in relieving back pain,
migraines, arthritis, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, sports injuries, digestive
disorders and stress-related conditions.

Reflexology has also been shown to help cleanse the body of toxins, increase circulation,
assist in weight loss and improve the health of organs throughout the body.

Any reputable reflexologist, however, will not claim to cure, diagnose or prescribe, nor will
they tell you to avoid other health practitioners. As with any case of illness or bodily
disfunction, it is advisable and essential that a competent medical practitioner be consulted.

Reflexology is part of the entire wellness process, but it can be an extremely important part.

What happens when you go for treatment?
On your first visit, the reflexology practitioner will generally have a preliminary talk with you
to determine your present and past health and lifestyle.

You will be asked to sit back and relax. Clients
are never asked to disrobe, but only to expose
the feet. A practitioner will most likely sanitize
the feet before beginning. This is often followed
by application of oil or powder with some
relaxation techniques and then the reflexology

The reflexologist will then use his or her hands
to apply pressure to the feet. The application
and the effect of the therapy are unique to each

A professionally-trained reflexologist can detect
subtle changes in specific points on the feet.
Working on these points tends to affect the
corresponding organ or system of the body.

A treatment session usually lasts a half-hour,
though some practitioners prefer an hour. Your treatment will depend upon your body’s
needs and the practitioner’s preferred schedule.

In the beginning, you and your reflexologist may determine that you need more frequent
treatments, but we normally schedule our clients every two-, three- or four-weeks in order
to maintain health and well-being.

Is reflexology only used on the feet?
Hand reflexology is not as popular as foot reflexology but it also offers many healing
benefits against stress and tension.

Most trained reflexologists focus on the feet, but many sometimes stimulate the reflexes on
the hand that relate to all glands and organs of the body. This is done with special thumb
and finger techniques that can alleviate pain and calm the mind.

As with the feet, pressure is applied to specific pressure points that correspond to your
health problems. A powder or lotion may be used during the hand reflexology session.

How will you feel after a reflexology treatment?
Everyone responds differently. Most people note a sense of well-being and relaxation.
Some respond by feeling lethargic and tired. Some feel instantly reinvigorated. All of these
responses are perfectly normal, and each is part of the overall healing process.

What you feel, both during the treatment and afterward, is vital information that you should
give as feedback to the reflexologist. This data is quite helpful as it helps him or her to
know how your body is responding to treatment. This information also helps the
reflexologist to develop a treatment plan to be modified to your specific needs.

When should you avoid reflexology?
As with any physical treatment, there are certain conditions that a qualified practitioner
may avoid or delay. Generally, for example, you should avoid therapy if you have recent or
healing fractures, unhealed wounds, or active gout.

Other conditions that may cause concern or specialized treatment include severe
circulation problems in the legs or feet, heart disease, cancer, gallstones or kidney stones
and (though this won’t affect most people who read pregnancy.

If you have concerns, discuss your specific situations with both your health practitioner and
reflexologist to determine whether you should proceed.

How can you find a trained reflexologist?
There are several networks of reflexologists available online or through reflexology
schools, but a couple of good places to start your search, wherever you live, is by asking
around at area health food stores or wholeness practitioners (chiropractors, massage
therapists, nutritionists or homeopathic physicians).

Many neighborhood health or vitamin shops provide a bulletin board as an information

Word of mouth is always the best.

A special note: Most massage therapists (and even many physical therapists) receive
some training in reflexology, so when you ask about reflexology, they will usually say that
they can do it if preferred. That statement is true, but technically it also true that a
specialist in any field often provides more specialized and generally more effective

Our recommendation is that if you want a great massage, go to a trained masseuse, but if
you want a reflexology treatment, seek help from a qualified reflexologist who specializes in
that therapy.

Can I do reflexology to myself or loved ones?
Certainly! There are many books and DVDs available to help you learn more about the

Whether or not you avail yourself of a qualified reflexologist’s therapy, you can learn
excellent techniques for yourself through very simple trial-and-error attempts.

For starters, simply get a golf ball, place it on the floor, then roll your foot over the ball,
taking care to work especially on the areas that hurt the most. You can do this anytime—in
your office, watching television, before going to bed or whenever the mood strikes.

Just as simply, take some time everyday to rub and massage your feet. Better yet, rub
your mate’s feet, then sit back while he or she reciprocates.

Many people like to use a specially-made reflexologist tool that allows you to work on
specific areas of the foot, but you can also use the eraser end of a pencil or anything
similar in size or shape.

Sales of foot reflexology equipment, such as rollers, are also increasing rapidly as people
learn more about the beneficial effects from self-therapy.

Reflexology and You
Approximately 75% of today’s diseases are related to stress and tension. Anything you can
do to reduce stress can be a lifesaver. Beyond that, you may find that working on your feet
can play a vital role in helping your body heal itself as greater balance is achieved
throughout your body.

Consider the wonderful world of reflexology—a true, safe, effective and natural alternative
in your overall pursuit of wellness!
What is reflexology?
Let us give the thumbnail version first: Reflexology
is the safe, natural treatment of massaging your
feet and hands in order to help your body to
release health and wellness throughout your
entire system. Reflexologists apply pressure using
their thumbs and fingers on "reflex zones" found
on the feet and hands which correspond to the
different parts of the body.

Now for the longer version: Reflexology is a
widespread practice in Asia, where foot
reflexology is quite popular. While the art of
reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and
China, it wasn’t until 1913 that Dr. William
Fitzgerald introduced this therapy to the West as
“zone therapy.” He noted that reflex areas on the
feet and hands were linked to other areas and
organs of the body within the same zone. Dr.
Fitzgerald (1872-1942) said, “Reflexology is the
application of specific pressures to reflex points in
the hands and feet.”
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Harold and Mary
Allebach have been
wellness practitioners
for over half a century.
Harold, now in his late
seventies, is a certified
reflexologist. Mary
specializes in nutrition
and health education.

Both exercise daily, work
full-time in their healthcare
practice, sing in their
church choir each week,
travel, keep up with two
grown girls and a growing
number of grandchildren
and great-grandchildren,
meanwhile maintaining a
level of vim and vigor that
causes people wherever
they go to ask, “Where do
you get all this energy?”

SeniorZest™, an
exclusive eColumn of,
features information,
interviews and
encouragement to help
you live life to the fullest,
regardless of your age!
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