What is Reflexology?
Reflexologists believe that the universe is held together by a specific type of energy and that this energy (much like electricity) flows through our bodies just as the blood and lymph fluids do. The energy pathways have “off-on” switches throughout the circuitry. Most of these switches (reflex points) are located in the extremities, feet/ankles and hands/wrists, but there are switches throughout the body. When disease, illness or such things as stress are present in our bodies, a switch can be turned off so the vital energy doesn't flow to a specific point in our body. By massaging these ref;ex points those switches can be turned back on.
Reflexology requires no training or expensive equipment. You don't even need the help of another person to use reflexology on yourself. It is the safest self healing technique known and can be used on babies, the elderly and infirm as well as relatively healthy children and adults. Use reflexology to eliminate those nagging little health concerns like headaches, cold symptoms, stomach discomfort etc. as well as improve natural immunity to diseases and help the body recover from serious health issues.
History of Reflexology
Reflexology is such an ancient practice that it’s hard to track its exact origin. The oldest known written record was found in Egypt in the tomb of Ankhamor dating back to 2330 BC. Symbols denoting the reflex points are thought to have been placed on the feet of ancient statues of Buddha in India and China.
A limited form of reflexology was introduced to the United States in 1917 by William H. Fitzgerald, MD, who described ten vertical zones running the length of the body. He found that pressing points in the feet corresponding to these vertical lines could help alleviate pain after surgery. This work was expanded by Dr. Shelby Riley who added horizontal zone lines and mapped the reflex points on the feet to correspond with these zones. Physiotherapist Eunice Ingham, who worked with Dr. Riley, developed the foot reflexology chart that is still being used today.
Study of reflex points has continued and expanded in the Western hemisphere through the years. Many people have had a part in developing what is known in the Western hemisphere as Body Reflexology.
Mildred Carter has been my most influential guide in the study of reflexology. Although Eunice Ingham's book was the text book for my Reflexology class, I've found Mildred Carter's “Body Reflexology” a much more in-depth study and a much gentler method.
This book has numerous charts of reflex points throughout the body along with detailed instructions on how to work these points for various afflictions. The book also details reflexology for babies and small children plus a section on keeping your skin healthy and some “face lift” techniques.
Your Personal Experience
Reflexology is easy to perform on yourself, especially hand reflexology. It's safe and easy for any age and even for the infirm.
If you've used reflexology please take our poll to tell us about your experience
My first understanding of reflexology came from a friend who introduced me to Mildred Carter's “Hand Reflexology” which he recommended for my 86 year old father who was a double amputee and who had several other health issues. We studied the book together and I soon learned through putting it into practice that I could increase my energy, relieve my headaches, manage sciatica nerve pain and much more. My father was somewhat skeptical at first because he said he didn't believe in it. The friend assured him that belief wasn't a factor. It was all physical and the book explained the “science” behind it.
Years later I began my studies in Alternative Medicine. Herbology and Reflexology were my major areas of focus. My text book was “Stories the Feet Can Tell Through Reflexology” by Eunice Ingham. I found the charts very helpful, but the method was harsh and some her stories seemed to border on torture. Well not really that bad, but I believed you don't have to be hurt to be healed, so I preferred Mildred Carter's methods.
Later I found “Healing for the Age of Enlightenment” by Stanley Burroughs. In this book there is a chapter on Vita Flex, which was an early form of reflexology. It uses the “tap and roll” method. Tap the pad of your fingers on the reflex point and roll your fingers up to the tips and quickly lift them from the flesh. I've found this method very effective and gentle on tender spots.
Spiked Reflexology Ball
I've found a spiked hard rubber ball to be an invaluable aid in reflexology. I never use this on a client as too much pressure can be painful and I can't feel what they feel. Instead I show them how to use it and allow them to roll it around in their hands, put their fingers on spikes and squeeze or roll it on the bottoms of their feet. The little spikes easily stimulate hard to reach spots and offer relief for muscle aches as well as being effective in pressing reflex points. Never use this or any other instrument on the spine or other bone. There are many reflex points along the spine and you can have someone roll the ball along the sides of the spine to stimulate these points, but using it on the spine can cause damage.
Although no equipment is necessary to get the maximum benefit from reflexology there are some things available that will make treating yourself easier. You can use a coarse toothed comb to press along the spine reflex in your hand to relieve back aches and some headaches. There are clips available to put on the ends of your fingers for prolonged pressure on sinus points (Don't use clothes pins! They are much too strong and will cut off the circulation). And of course the spiked reflexology ball mentioned above.
- Reflexology is a gentle way to self healing
- It is safe and effective for all ages
- It can help you stay healthy or improve your health during an illness
- No equipment is necessary. You have self healing abilities at the tips of your fingers-literally
Jennie Hennesay (author) from Lubbock TX on December 26, 2015:
Thanks for your input, Marisa Wright. The thing I find inconvenient about massage therapy and acpuncture is that even if a treatment is successful, its effects aren't lasting until your body rebalances itself. With reflexology. you can keep up the effects on your own.
Kate Swanson from Sydney on December 26, 2015:
I've had reflexology before. I had tried acupuncture for referred pain from a neck injury and it was useless, so I didn't have high hopes for reflexology -but it was amazingly effective! I'd never thought of self-treatment though.
Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 15, 2015:
Alise- Evon on November 04, 2014:
Nice informative hub, Beaddoodler. I found a spotless hardcover copy of the Mildred Carter book you reference for $1 at a thrift store a few years ago, claimed it for myself, and have used it sometimes since. I was not aware of the use of the spiked rubber balls for reflexology- thanks for the suggestion.
It's very interesting how the human body functions and all the ways we have of helping ourselves improve our health.