What is it?

Reflexology is a form of complementary medicine and involves a method of treatment using massage to reflex areas found in the feet and the hands. Most commonly, the feet are used as the areas to be treated.

It is said to have originated in China some 5000 years ago, when pressure therapy where used to correct energy fields in the body. It was not until around 1913 that the therapy was introduced to the west by an American ear, nose and throat consultant, Dr William Fitzgerald.

In the feet, there are reflex areas corresponding to all the parts of the body and these areas are arranged in such a way as to form a map of the body in the feet with the right foot corresponding to the right side of the body and the left foot to the left side of the body. Thus, it becomes possible to treat the whole body and the treat the body as a whole. This latter point is an important factor of a natural therapy and allows not only symptoms to be treated but also their causes.

It is thought that illness occurs when 'energy channels' in the body are blocked, causing damage to one area of another. Massage is aimed at destroying these blocks, allowing energy to flow freely again and so to heal the damage.

Reflexology does not claim to be a "cure all", but numerous different disorders seem to be responding well to this natural therapy. These disorders include such things as migraine, sinus problems, hormonal imbalances, breathing difficulties, digestive problems, circulatory problems, back problems, tension and stress.

What can you expect?

When first visiting a reflexologist, a detailed medical history will be taken. The "patient" will then be seated in a reclining chair and asked to remove shoes and socks.

The practitioner will initially examine the feet before commencing with the precise massage movement. The particular type of massage involved require the application of a firm pressure using the side and end of the thumb. In some instances, the fingers may also be employed.

All areas on both feet will be massaged. Areas corresponding to parts of the body which are out of balance will feel uncomfortable or tender when massaged and the degree of tenderness will indicate the degree of imbalance. The sensitivity of the feet varies from person to person and the trained practitioner will understand the correct pressure to apply and how to interpret the tenderness felt. The massage should not be uncomfortable, even to the most sensitive feet.

The full treatment can last up to an hour and at the end of the session, the feet should feel warm and the patient relaxed. The number of treatment sessions required will vary depending on the condition being treated.

Following treatment, it is sometime possible that the eliminating systems of the body become more active in order to rid the body of unwanted toxic matter. For example, treatment of a congested sinus may result in a cold; and constipation treatment can cause increased bowel movements. however, if treatment is correctly applied, these reactions should not be severe.

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