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What is Reflexology?


What is reflexology?

Reflexology is a holistic therapy.  It is the application of pressure to areas on the feet, hands and ears.  The theory behind reflexology is that specific areas on the feet correspond to certain organs and systems of the body.  The pressure applied affects organs and in turn can be beneficial to your health.

Reflexologist, Rosanna Bickerton BSc (Hons) FMAR MDYTA says that the aim of reflexology is to “create homeostasis, which means that the organs in the body are all working together and at their best.”

For example, it is believed that:

  •     The tips of the toes reflect the head;
  •     The ball of the foot affects the heart and chest;
  •     The arch of the foot affects the liver, pancreas and kidney;
  •     The heel affects the low back and intestines.

The history of reflexology

Reflexology is in part due to the work of Ivan Pavlov.  Pavlov’s reflex system research concluded that there is an involuntary response from organ systems to external stimulation such as stress or pain.  Dr Henry Head followed up on this theory and proved that there is a neurological relationship that exists between the skin and the internal organs.

Further work was done other researchers and reflexology began to hold a reputable status for being a beneficial therapy. 

Is reflexology for everyone?

It is very much up to the reflexologist when working on a client to show discretion when it comes to your condition.  It is therefore important that you disclose any medical issues that you may have or any medications that you are currently taking.

When it comes to pregnancy, research shows that as long as care is taken not to work too deeply or not to use too much pressure, reflexology during pregnancy can be beneficial1.  It is however, important that you consult your physician if you are pregnant.

People get reflexology for a number of reasons.  Some of these reasons are highlighted below:

  •     Stress and stress related conditions;
  •     Digestive issues;
  •     Arthritis;
  •     Insomnia;
  •     Sports injuries;
  •     Hormonal imbalances;
  •     Menstrual disorders;
  •     Back pain.

Most people will find reflexology quite relaxing – it should not be painful.  Should you feel any discomfort, tell the reflexologist.


    Oxford Handbook of Midwifery edited by Janet Medforth, Sue Battersby, Maggie Evans, Beverley Marsh, Angela Walker p.131


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  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)