Now that I have completed the in-class portion of the Reflexology course at ConEd Institute, I have many patients, family members, and friends asking me “What the #$%& is Reflexology?!?” That is a fair question. As a Massage Therapist, I forget that alternative or complementary (non-Western) methods of healing are not very well understood by the general population. Reflexology is not new. In fact, from ancient texts, and illustrations, we know that early Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Russian, and Egyptian people worked on the feet to promote good health. But the theory that Reflexology is based on, is not totally explainable by science, and that makes some people very weary of this type of therapy.
What is the theory? Reflexology is based on zone theory which states that there are energy zones that run through the body and corresponding reflex areas on the feet. This theory has been tested and shown to be valid by medical doctors and physiotherapists who demonstrated that a pain stimulus could be taken away in a patients face by applying pressure to the corresponding reflex point. The problem is that the actual physical mechanism that controls the zones in the body and the feet is still not fully understood.
The best theory is one that focuses on stress and the “fight or flight” response and the body’s need for homeostasis. In simple terms- our body always strives for balance but our stressful world throws this all out of whack and our body ends up running on adrenaline. Stress throws everything off balance- insulin, cortisol, oxygen, etc. Reflexology induces deep relaxation, allows the nervous system to calm down, circulation to flow more smoothly, which in turn allows oxygen to reach all cells, and that allows healing to take place. The zone theory is simply showing that applying pressure to the reflex zone, will clear energy blockages, and allow the energy to flow into the part of the body that needs healing.
Reflexology is not Massage Therapy. Reflexology is not a medical treatment, nor can it diagnose a medical problem. Reflexology will open up energy pathways and allow the subtle energy that accompanies neurological and circulatory function to do its work. This allows the natural internal healing mechanisms of the body to do their own work. Reflexology does not cure; the body cures itself.
Amanda Cooke RMT