Does Reflexology Really Work?

Reflexology: is it the latest in a seemingly relentless onslaught of popular wellness trends, or is there some truth to its claims? While scientific studies that could show us how effective reflexology is are scarce at best, those who swear by this special kind of foot massage seem to be convinced. 

Studies show that reflexology has the ability to decrease systolic blood pressure. Additionally, it has been known to help manage symptoms of asthma, anxiety, headaches, migraines, PMS, and even a stuffy nose. By accessing specific pressure points in the feet, other areas of the body can reap the benefits. 

Reflexology is also known as "Zone Therapy," and it isn't as simple as you might think.

What is Reflexology?reflexology foot massage

Reflexology uses specific pressure points on the feet (as well as the hands and ears) to "help you feel better," according to WebMD. The theory is this:

Easing stress by stimulating certain pressure points can help the rest of your body work better.

You may already be familiar with the color-coded chart that defines each of these pressure points. There are points related to everything from your skin to your kidneys; from your head to, well, your feet.

What are the three types of reflexology?

Reflexology is typically practiced using access points in the feet; however, you can also enjoy the benefits of reflexology on your hands and ears. 

  • Reflexology of the hands has been linked to a stronger connection between the mind and the body, making it ideal for reflexology for pain relief.
  • Accessing pressure points on the ears is also referred to as auriculotherapy, and has an astounding effect on your nerves.

hand reflexologyWhat Illnesses Does Reflexology Treat?

It's important to remember that reflexology is not meant as a way of diagnosing any illness or disease, nor is it optimal as your only treatment method depending on your condition. Rather, reflexology can be used to accompany other treatment methods. A wonderful example of this combination of treatments is seen with chemotherapy. A patient may need to undergo chemo in order to treat cancer, and reflexology can be used to ease the side effects of chemo drugs, such as an upset stomach or headache. 

Other examples of conditions that may benefit from reflexology include:

  • Kidney and liver issues
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as colitis, IBS, and Crohn's disease
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Menstruation or pregnancy symptoms
  • Trouble concentrating

While reflexology isn't enough to cure any disease, it can be exceedingly beneficial in making your symptoms more manageable. Now, I can't leave out the fact that even if reflexology was purely a placebo effect and didn't actually relieve any symptoms, there is nothing better than a good foot massage. When your feet hurt, you hurt all over. That said, paying a little more attention to your feet can help you feel better overall.

Foot Reflexology ChartHow to Do Reflexology on Yourself: A Step-by-Step Guide

Get into a comfortable position. You may want to try getting into bed and doing your reflexology before you go to sleep. A comfy spot on the floor or couch works, too.

  1. Start with lotion. Use any non-greasy lotion, and massage it into your feet by kneading with your thumbs. Focus on the soles of your feet.
  2. Once the lotion is rubbed in and your feet are moisturized, cross one foot over your knee and hold it at the ankle. With your other hand, place your thumb on the sole of your foot.
  3. Work your thumb from the base of the heel up to the toe, repeating this for all five toes.
  4. With your reflexology chart handy, Press the desired reflex points with the side of your thumb or the tip of your forefinger. Try to keep contact between your hand and your foot, running your thumb to each desired point. 
  5. Finish with "breeze-strokes" by lightly running your fingertips across your entire foot. A feather-light touch is best, as this will soothe your nerves.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 on your other foot.

How often should I do reflexology therapy?

The frequency of your reflexology self-treatments is solely dependent on you, but it is typically recommended every other week or once a month. 

Is there anyone who shouldn't do reflexology?

Reflexology is relatively harmless. Still, those with low blood pressure or iron may want to skip it, as some people report feeling so relaxed afterward that they became light-headed. Additionally, those with open sores on their feet should avoid reflexology so as to not introduce any unnecessary bacteria to their wound. If you suffer from plantar warts or athlete's foot, be sure to stop if the therapy becomes painful and thoroughly wash your hands immediately after to avoid spreading infection.

If you're thinking of trying reflexology or another massage method to treat your foot pain, check out our same-day laser pain appointments. Get relief today with the power of your body's own natural healing processes. When holistic and at-home treatments aren't enough to get you back on your feet, our customized comprehensive treatment plans can help you get there. Freeland Foot and Ankle provides top-notch care in a convenient and central location in Mid-Michigan. Give us a call or text at 989-695-6788 if you're ready to say goodbye to heel pain without surgery.

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