Concepts of Reflexology
All the organs of our body communicate through biochemical reactions on neurological pathways, and these pathways have reflex areas all over the body, with nerve endings on the hands, feet and ears. There are different maps of this pathway followed by different systems – such as Su jok, G-Jo, Shiatsu, and hand, foot and ear reflexology. Slowing down of the biochemical reactions is the cause of many diseases. Simulation of the reflex areas, that is done through various techniques such as magneto therapy, laser therapy, acupressure and acupuncture, speeds up the biochemical reactions and thus, hastens healing and very often, cures the disease, too.
For instance, foot reflexology, that is based on the profound and distinct relationship between the body and its two feet, left food representing the left half of the body and the right, representing the right half of the body. Whenever there is a disorder in any part of the body, the corresponding reflex point on the foot becomes very tender. Pressure on this point, which can be quite painful, needs to be given methodically and gradually, the corresponding part of the body gets healed.
Further, the level of emotional well being is reflected clearly on the state of the foot. Most patients vouch for a better emotional state after undergoing reflexology sessions and quite often, there is a personality change, too.
History and the current scene
The idea behind reflexology is certainly not new. It seems many civilizations all over the world have recognized the basic principle of reflexology, though they may not have called it as such.
There is evidence of it being practised in India, China and Japan. Dr Dalal is, in fact, also researching on the origins on this technique and has found many indications that it travelled to China from India.
As early as 2330 B.C., Egyptian culture seems to have practiced it as murals of this period show. The American Indian and Mayan civilizations also seem to have practiced some form of pressure point healing and of course, acupressure and acupuncture too operate on the modern form, however, originated with the Zone Theory that came, strangely enough, from an allopathic surgeon.
Observing that the patients who applied pressure on some points seemed to be better at coping with pain than those who did not, Dr. William Fitzgerald, an ENT surgeon, formulated the Zone Theory in 1913. By putting pressure on various parts of the hands, fingers and feet, he noticed a numbing effect on certain other areas, and therefore used simple instruments like rubber bands, clothes pegs and combs that brought about this numbing effect, performing many simple operations with little or no anaesthesia. In this process, Dr. Fitzgerald also discovered that the application of pressure on the zones not only stopped patients from feeling the pain but often relieved the underlying cause as well. Fascinated with this theory, Dr. Shelby Riley started worked closely with him and developed the Zone Theory further, adding horizontal zones across the hands and feet, together with the longitudinal zones and thus determining individual reflexes according to the Zone Theory.
The next entrant was Eunice D. Ingham in the early 1930s, a physical therapist. She had the opportunity to treat hundreds of patients where each reflex point of contact had been carefully and thoughtfully checked and rechecked until with all confidence she was able to determine that the reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body. She authored the book "Stories The Feet Can Tell", which was translated in many languages and still plays an important role in reflexology being accepted and practiced all over the world.
1. A natural, holistic system
2. A preventive health measure
3. Has great diagnostic value
4. Addresses root cause and not just the symptoms. Is therefore, long lasting
5. It is simple and safe
6. Has no side-effects
7. Compatible with other systems
8. Provides relaxation
9. Improves blood circulation
10. Improves nerve supply
11. Can be an excellent first aid for emergencies
How does it work?
Although the relationship of the feet to the body is profound, the way the channels work are still being researched technically. The possible theories are –
Blood and supply theory - When the body becomes tense, they press on the arteries causing sluggishness in circulation. Toxins that should normally be excreted then get deposited in the hands and feet as crystals. This in turn blocks nerve impulses. Reflexology breaks down these crystals which go into the blood stream and then get excreted naturally, thereby relieving pain in the corresponding part of the body
Nerve simulation theory – Pressure on reflex areas transmits message to the brain which causes body to mobilize its repair forces
Lymph theory – Pressure on reflex points enhance the lymph vessels to restore chemical balance in the body.
Counter irritation theory – Human body has the ability to speed up repairs when it receives an insult or irritation to its equilibrium, which is provided by reflex irritation.
The pressing of reflex areas speeds the biochemical reactions in the neurological pathway and hastens healing.
What it is NOT
Reflexology is not massage and a ‘feel good’ therapy - One must be prepared to deal with the pain that occurs when the reflex points are pressed.
Though reflex points indicate ailing organs/ body parts, it does not provide complete diagnosis.
For serious ailments, reflexology alone is not enough. It can, however, continue to be used as an adjunct therapy
The results are not instant. Though some problems do disappear in one or two sittings, many sittings may be needed in certain cases.
It is not really useful when infection is the primary cause of the disease