A guide to techniques and benefits of reflexology

Reflexology is proven to promote good health. But how is it done? Why does it work? Here's a guide to the techniques and benefits of this ancient healing art.

A guide to techniques and benefits of reflexology

History of reflexology

Historical records suggest that reflexology was practiced by the ancient Egyptians and Chinese. In the 16th century, two European doctors became very interested in the method and published a book about it. They identified various organs of the body as they relate to pressure points.

In the 20th century, the medical claims of reflexology were documented by Eunice Ingham, an American physiotherapist. She wrote a popular book about reflexology that mapped the human body according to how organs are mirrored in the hands and feet. She then founded the International Institute of Reflexology that's still active today.


Reflexology is not a massage, but a therapeutic approach to healthcare. The main goal is to relieve pain by stimulating the reflex zones. These ten energy zones go from head to toe and each corresponds to a specific organ.

Zones are connected to reflex points located mainly on the soles of the feet, although sometimes on the hands or ears. As such, stimulating a reflex point provokes a reaction in the associated organ. In turn, this supports physiological function.For example, in the foot, the:

  • Tips of toes relate to the head
  • Centre of the sole is connected to the kidneys
  • Arch is connected to the pancreas
  • Area between the arch and heel relates to the intestines
  • Heel is connected to the lower back

Reflexology is comparable to Shiatsu massage and acupuncture.

How does it work?

  • A reflexologist uses his or her fingers and thumbs to apply direct pressure on the reflex points in order to engage specific organs.
  • Vital energy stimulated by those reflex points is carried throughout the body by means of energy channels called meridians. Another explanation suggests that pressure points and reflex zones send signals to the brain, which in turn releases endorphins to relieve pain and reduce stress.
  • Others believe that reflexology not only stimulates the nerve endings in the body, but also improves the circulation of the lymphatic system, as with traditional massage therapy.

Whatever the explanation may be, the goal is to help release tension, heal the body, diminish pain, restore balance and promote proper organ function.


Reflexology offers many benefits. These include:

  • Headache relief, relief of back pain and intestinal problems
  • Easing menstrual pain and potentially lessening the symptoms of multiple sclerosis
  • Helping treatment of mental disorders by releasing endorphins, which alleviates stress and anxiety

Another bonus of reflexology is that you can do it yourself at home, and often takes as little as 15 minutes to feel the positive effects.

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