Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition 2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Foot Reflexology has actually been documented in the west since 1890, when Sir Henry Head promoted foot reflexology in London, and made it to the United States with Dr. William Fitzgerald in the 1920’s under the guise of something called “zone therapy.” In India and China however, it is widely believed that foot reflexology has been practiced for over 5,000 years as a form of improving and maintaining health through massaging specific reflex zones on the feet. But why does foot reflexology work? What is foot reflexology really?
Why Does Foot Reflexology Work?
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, Foot Reflexology works on 4 different principles. These are Blood Circulation, Nerve and Humoral Regulation, Channels and Collaterals (i.e. energetic Meridian theory), and the Microcosm or map of the body on the feet. The theory behind these principles is as follows:
• Blood Circulation - foot reflexology increases blood circulation by breaking up deposits of toxins, such as uric acid, that accumulate due to gravity in the feet. Removing toxins and obstructions improves blood circulation.
• Nerve and Humoral Regulation - small bubbles, granules and nodules often appear in the feet over reflex zones where organs are not functioning optimally. Stimulating these areas of the feet creates a corresponding nerve and humoral response which regulates Qi and Blood in the affected organ.
• Channels and Collaterals - foot reflexology opens the 6 Leg Channels (Spleen, Liver, Kidney, Stomach, Bladder, Gallbladder) to improve Qi flow and improve health.
• Microcosm - the foot is a microcosm of the body where the reflex foot map corresponds to different body areas. By treating the different areas on the feet, you affect the body as a whole.
What Is Foot Reflexology Like?
Everyone’s experience of foot reflexology is different, but most people find it very relaxing. Regardless of what principle you are focusing on above, the reality is that foot reflexology involves foot massage on specific areas of the foot and at different depths and levels towards creating systemic change.
Yes - foot massage. The difference between basic foot massage and foot reflexology from an experiential point of view, is the focus on specific areas instead of a general foot massage covering the entire foot equally.
Certainly foot reflexology will still cover the whole foot, but there will be specific emphasis and depth changes in different areas based on your chief complaint. In some areas foot reflexology might feel light and gentle while in other areas it can feel deep and sensitive.
It is very important to be able to relax for the body energetically to receive treatment, however, so if you ever feel like the pressure is too deep during treatment you should always tell your practitioner. Curious why some areas feel more tender than others? Ask! The answer might be quite interesting.
Questions? Ask Rebecca!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.