Reflexology is a natural therapy based on the discovery that there are points on the feet and hands that appear to correspond to organs, systems and structures within the entire body. This corresponding relationship is called a “reflex”. A reflex is when a stimulation at one point brings about a response in another point or area. In reflexology, by using specific pressure techniques to stimulate the points on the feet or hands, imbalances in the tissues, organs and systems of the body can be both detected and effectively treated to restore balance and well being.
It is important to be aware that REFLEXOLOGISTS are not trained to DIAGNOSE and treat a specific illness, we are trained to assess imbalances in the person and to treat by attempting to help the person’s own healing energy resolve these imbalances.
How it works.
Reflexology works with our bodies “energy”, therefore reflexology can be described as a form of energy medicine, very different to allopathic medicine. This flow of energy has not been accepted by conventional scientific medicine. It is both an ancient and modern concept. Most of our knowledge of these unconventional energy systems comes from the spiritual knowledge of the Far East and India.
This specialised energy system of the body absorbs and distributes life energy to our cells, tissues and organs via meridians. Meridians carry a type of environmental life energy called chi. According to theories of traditional Chinese medicine illness is mainly a result of an imbalance in the flow of chi energy to the organs of the body. Reflexology helps to rebalance the flow of life energy .
The western perspective of how reflexology works would state that “touch ” therapies may reduce the perception of pain, as the touch impulses reach the brain before those of pain. Alternatively reflexology may work by stimulating the release of endorphins and encephalins, the body’s natural pain relievers and mood enhancers. However the physiological effects of relaxation are the most obvious way in which reflexology works , the relaxation response counteracts the stress response, thus preventing or alleviating illnesses triggered by stress. It allows our bodies to revitalise, rejuvenate and find balance, a necessity for good health.
1. Reflexology can help to manage your stress levels.
Reflexology facilitates deep relaxation and as it has been estimated that 75% of disease is stress related, this is a major contribution to the return to health.
Relaxation stimulates the increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system and calms the sympathetic nervous system, which is active in times of stress. The stress response induced by heightened activity of the sympathetic nervous system switches off the hormonal systems regulating growth, reproduction, metabolism and immunity, in the short term this can be helpful, enabling us to divert our resources to dealing with the perceived threat, however longer term this can be very damaging allowing illnesses to develop. Facilitating the balance between our sympathetic nervous system -the stress response and the parasympathetic nervous system- the relaxation response, is of great importance to our health, this state of balance or”homeostasis” enhances the life span of our cells and slows the ageing process.
Parasympathetic activity enables the body to restore and rejuvenate itself and supports many vital functions important for our health and well being.
For example it facilitates-
– Digestion, bile production from the liver is increased, improving digestion, motility and tone of the smooth muscles of the stomach and intestines are increased thereby speeding up the passage of food and waste through the digestive tract.
-Circulation, it is important for blood to flow freely throughout the body, transporting oxygen and nutrients to all cells that make up the tissues of the body and removing waste products of metabolism and other toxins. The stress response can cause restriction of blood flow to certain areas and this can have a debilitating effect on some tissues and organs, by facilitating relaxation the circulation flows more naturally and easily.
–Detoxification, the body has an ability to cleanse itself via the kidney’s, skin, colon and lymphatic system. Toxins and waste matter can build up, particularly when the body is stressed. Relaxation can support these excretory systems allowing the body to function more efficiently.
2. Reflexology stimulates more than 7000 nerves in the feet, encouraging the opening and clearing of neural pathways.
3. The placebo effect -this is about the power of the mind to influence the body, it is an example of how our expectations and beliefs in a treatment can cause positive change in our physical bodies. We don’t understand how this happens but it is real and powerful. It operates in conventional medicine as well as complementary therapy. 30% of subjects given drug placebos in orthodox medical trials also improve within measurable parameters.
Our mind and emotions are intimately involved in any healing process and the importance of this is not to be ignored.
4. Reflexology restores mental alertness and improves attention span.
By calming the mind we are free to think clearly and may come up with some of our best ideas. It enables us to be more productive and creative.
5. Restores and rebalances our energy systems.
The body is normalised and energy flows. The body mind and spirit are brought back into balance.
6. Reflexology promotes our emotional vitality- a sense of positive energy, engagement in life and positive attitude.
Optimism protects us from illness.
7. Reflexology is preventative healthcare.
Having regular reflexology treatments empowers us to take control and responsibility for our wellbeing. We become more aware of our bodies and mind, and we begin to understand the communication between the two. It is important to take time out and show ourselves care and consideration. Stress inhibits our bodies on all levels, a nurturing treatment , bringing joy into your life, that changes your outlook can have a huge impact on your body’s biology and ultimately on your general health.
The Feet and how they mirror The Body.
Each foot represents half of the body, the left foot corresponding to the left side of the body and the right foot corresponding to the right side of the body. In one treatment session the entire foot and therefore body is worked on.
The following are the various organs and systems of the body that are stimulated in a treatment, where they are located on the feet and their function.
A gland located at the base of the brain, it directly secretes hormones or controls the secretion of many hormones from other glands. It affects growth, sexual development, sleep pattern, fluid retention, lactation, energy levels. It’s reflex point is the center of the big toe of both feet.
The pineal is a small gland, located in the brain , it can be considered to be the hub of hormones and emotions. It is important as a regulator of the immune system and other associated body systems. In ancient texts it is considered to be the location of the third eye, our intuitive gland. It responds to levels of daylight perceived through the eye with release of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin has been shown to boost and modulate immunity, digestive functions, endocrine system, sleep patterns, plus reduce stress. Melatonin levels are highest at night when it is dark and lowest at noon. Balanced melatonin levels in the blood help to enhance sleep patterns. Recent evidence suggests that melatonin plays a role in free radical scavenging and may protect cell membranes more effectively than vitamin E. Melatonin is a age reversing hormone due to its versatile anti oxidant activity. The pineal is also involved with immunity due to the far reaching detrimental effects lack of sleep can have on our immune systems , particularly in reducing the number of natural killer cells – white blood cells, that have a role in anti viral activity and the cessation of tumour formation. It’s reflex point is on the inner side and top of the big toe on both feet.
The hypothalamus is situated immediately above the pituitary gland in the brain. It is linked to the pituitary by blood vessels and nerve fibers and controls the output of hormones from the pituitary. It’s functions include control of: Body temperature, hunger and appetite, water balance, sleeping and waking mechanism- it is part of the autonomic nervous system. It’s reflex point is below that of the pineal.
The thyroid gland is situated in the neck. It produces 3 main hormones thyroxine, triiodothyronine and calcitonin. Thyroxine and triiodothyronine are essential for normal growth and development, of the skeleton and nervous system. Most other organs and systems are also influenced by thyroid hormones – the heart, skeletal muscles, skin, digestive and reproductive systems, the effects of this only become evident when there is under or over activity of the thyroid gland. Calcitonin is involved in the balance of calcium in the body, particularly important in childhood. The thyroid reflex area is at the base of the big toe.
There are 4 parathyroid glands, situated around the thyroid. The parathyroid glands release parathormone, increasing the calcium levels of the blood. This is needed for muscle contraction, blood clotting, nerve impulse transmission.
Liver. The liver is the largest gland and organ in the body, located beneath the diaphragm, mostly on the right side. It is an extremely active organ. The liver processes all the nutrients from the blood, storing fats, sugars and proteins until the body needs them. It detoxifies the blood and manufactures bile for fat digestion. Gallbladder Embedded in the liver, the gallbladder stores bile, which breaks down fats , aiding digestion.
Stomach. The stomach is mainly located on the left side of the body, it churns food and begins protein breakdown.
Pancreas. The pancreas is behind the stomach, mostly on the left side of the body. The pancreas has a dual function it controls blood glucose levels and releases pancreatic juice that digests carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
The spleen is on the left side of the body, under the diaphragm and behind the stomach.The spleen produces antibodies to attack viruses and other agents of infection. As blood flows through the spleen worn out red and white blood cells , parasites and bacteria are destroyed.
The hormones released by the adrenals are essential for life. Cortisol- regulating metabolism and our response to stress, suppression of immune response. Aldosterone- regulating blood volume/pressure. Adrenaline and noradrenalin – responsible for preparing the body for stressful situations – “the fight or flight” response- increased heart rate, diverting blood to essential organs including the heart, brain and muscles.
Filter toxins from the blood, regulate retention of important minerals and water. Small Intestine The small intestine secretes some digestive juices and absorbs digested foods, water, vitamins and minerals.
The colon absorbs water and eliminates mucus and waste material.
The ovaries lie to the right and left of the uterus and produce ova and female hormones- oestrogen and progesterone , which are responsible for female sexual development . Their reflex points are located on both feet on the outside of the ankles.
These are 2 glands in the scrotum that produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone. Their reflex points are located on both feet on the outside of the ankles.
This gland surrounds the neck of the bladder in the male and secretes the fluid part of the semen. Reflex points are located on both feet on the inside of the ankles.
Located in the mid pelvic area, the uterus contains and nourishes the fetus during pregnancy. Reflex points are located on both feet on the inside of the ankles.
When you look down at your feet you will notice that the inside of each foot is curved and that these curves correspond to those of your spine.
The lymphatic system works in conjunction with the blood’s circulatory system, but it has its own network of vessels. It absorbs fat from the digestive system, helps to regulate body fluid and provides the body with its natural defences against disease. As the lymphatic system is distributed throughout the body, we do not need to isolate specific areas of the feet. The whole lymphatic system is treated as we work on the feet.