Natural Healing: Reflexology

Practitioners of reflexology believe that there are reflexes in the feet and hands that are linked to the flow of energy throughout the body.

| March/April 2001

Eastern Indian, Chinese, and Egyptian peoples originated the ancient art of reflexology around 2500 b.c. In fact, Cleopatra was said to have often worked on Marc Anthony’s feet. In the early 1900s, reflexology was introduced to the West.

Reflexology is the direct mapping of zones in the hands and feet to corresponding body parts. How can there be a link between two seemingly unrelated parts of the body? Reflexologists believe it’s possible because the body is linked by energy flowing along meridians that create pathways. Martha Conner, a reflexologist at Shapes Day Spa in Alt, Illinois, explains. “As energy flows down a particular line, it stimulates everything in its path. When body parts are healthy, this energy goes unblocked,” she says. “When a damaged area of the body is touched by this energy, the energy is blocked in an attempt to heal the damaged site. Imagine the force of a stream blocked by a fallen tree or collection of rocks. The force of the stream will build up in that blocked area until it manages to squeeze through. Gradually the stream will clear the congested area until an open pathway is created.”

Although much of reflexology is still a mystery, practitioners believe that there are reflexes in the feet and hands that are linked to the flow of energy throughout the body. Specifically, when pressure is applied to a particular part of the hand or foot, it produces an effect in another part of the body.

“Sometimes a client will come to me with aching feet and really it’s a sinus disorder or a digestive ailment,” Conner says. “It’s amazing how many other maladies are uncovered because of a reflexology session. After the treatment, a client will typically call saying their sinuses are now cleared or they no longer have heartburn.”

Who gets reflexology? “About half of the caseload are folks who seek stress reduction,” says Valerie Voner, founder of the Northeast Institute of Reflexology in Onset, Massachusetts. “By reducing stress, you increase immune function.”

How do you know you’re getting a quality reflexology session? “Reflexing, or the movements involved with the modality, is done with the thumb and index fingers almost exclusively,” Voner says. “Typically a reflexologist will try to do both the hands and feet to hit the reflex spots twice. Above all, reflexology should never be painful.”

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