Do you long for a relaxing foot massage at the end of a long day? Do you find yourself massaging your own feet while you watch television? Finding it not enough still? Well why not step it up a notch with a foot reflexology session! Through this holistic practice we can treat the entire human body through just the pressure points in our feet.
What is Foot Reflexology?
Reflexology is a modern non-invasive complementary therapy that draws a history from ancient Indian, Chinese, and Egyptian practices such as acupuncture. Compared to regular therapeutic massage therapy, reflexology differs through its focus on specific points over general muscle areas. This allows it to more effectively clear blockages and act on specific targeted problems over a body massage’s more general benefits.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, our feet have a collection of reflex points that map to individual organs and structures throughout the body. For instance, the tip of the big toe on the left foot maps to the left hemisphere of the brain.
By applying pressure to these points, we can invigorate the body’s natural healing process and clear any blockages. Through a free flow of energy, we can help ourselves feel balanced and calm. And through frequent enough effective treatments, we can even find significant physical and emotional health benefits.
What are the Benefits of Reflexology?
In reflexology our feet can be manipulated to treat specific areas of the body or to improve general function. With experimental studies on foot reflexology finding positive results, we now also have access to a stronger understanding of its nuances and ability to improve our quality of life. These positive benefits include:
Stress and Anxiety Management
The effects of foot reflexology massages on anxiety and stress have long been tremendous. Subjectively, just act of reflexology can be soothing for many. Objectively, reflexology has been found to increase blood circulation. And by increasing blood flow our body can better de-stress and better manage our anxiety levels.
The effect of reflexology on pain in patients, both chronic and acute, has been consistently positive through most clinical trial studies. While the why hasn’t been conclusively found, the results alone speak for its effectiveness. With studies finding it to help alleviate pain in lung and breast cancer patients, recent kidney transplant patients, and soldiers with chronic pain.
Our diet and our colon play a pivotal part in our health. Reflexology helps heal our body from the inside, with very specific points lining up with our colon and stomach. The stomach point in particular can be found on the centre of our left foot. Keep in mind though that most positive results come from personal accounts. In fact most systematic reviews on stomach issues instead come up with mixed results, pointing to further research being needed.
Alleviating Migraines and headaches
Foot reflexology can also help plenty with pain in the head. A reflexologist might target two specific points to alleviate headaches. The first is the space between the big and second toes. The second points are near your smallest toes.
The sinus points are on the balls of the toes. By working it a few times over a reflexologist can clear up your sinuses.
Just for the women, reflexology can help relieve post menstrual syndrome cramps and symptoms. A bit under the inner ankle bone is a point that specifically helps improve lymphatic drainage, and in turn blood circulation, in our lower areas.
Alleviate Pregnancy Pains
Coupled with other complementary medicines, reflexology is a non-invasive therapy capable of providing multiple benefits to pregnant women. It can especially prove useful for primiparous women during the later terms of their pregnancy. With an extensive session you can expect to see reduced stress and anxiety levels, reduced cramp pain, prevention of blood pressure conditions, and even reduced duration of labour times.
Improved Sleep Quality
While reflexology in general improves sleep quality through improving energy levels, it also has a specific point that helps with insomnia. Located just in the sole of our feet above where they start to curve. Stimulating this point helps improve energy and induce sleep.
How long before you start seeing benefits?
While the effects of foot reflexology are unique to each person, consistently the effects are not immediate. Depending on how your body systems react these effects can be immediate, or they may take several sessions. Most people will usually start seeing positive results after 4-6 sessions though.
To ensure you get the maximum effectiveness of foot reflexology you should ensure that for the next 24 hours following your session you stay hydrated and relaxed with light meals only if possible. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine for this time.
What should I know before I Book a Session?
If you are booking your first foot reflexology massage, you might want to know what it entails. In which case, keep the following in mind:
A typical session is an hour long, but this varies depending on the technique and the recommendations of the practitioner.
It starts with a detailed discussion about your current state of health and lifestyle.
You are required to sit, recline, or lie down comfortably with a slightly raised head.
Your therapist studies and may manipulate your feet before commencing the treatment. This is to diagnose or test for any blockages or potential health conditions that they can treat.
They relax the feet with a massage and work on the reflex points by applying pressure through specific techniques on the various reflex zones.
After your session is over, you should drink some water and enjoy the state of calm relaxation for the rest of the day.
Some people may experience better sleep and a boosted appetite after a foot reflexology session. For some, you may feel thirsty more often or notice more mucus production after your treatment. The release of energy blockages and the detoxing of your body may take place in different ways.
The ideal number of sessions that you should take will be recommended by the therapist based on the state of your health and your response to the treatment. On an average you should expect to do five to six sessions before you will start seeing the effects of reflexology.
Is Foot Reflexology Safe?
Reflexology is completely safe for near everyone. It is a non-intrusive technique and relaxing form of alternative therapy that works at many levels while relaxing and restoring the mind.
If you’re uncomfortable with pain, then you can talk to your practitioner about the level of pressure or ask for changes during the session too. But if you are overly sensitive or ticklish, you may not enjoy a foot reflexology treatment.
However, despite its strengths foot reflexology is not for everyone. Particularly if you suffer from gout, a history of blood clots, or circulatory issues, then you should avoid this treatment. If you’re unsure, then you should make sure to consult your medical practitioner.
Do remember that this is an alternative form of medicine and should not be used in place of conventional medicine, prescriptions, or medical treatment. Never discontinue any specialized or palliative care on the advice of a reflexologist.
What are the different techniques of foot reflexology?
Over the decades, reflexology has continued to develop all over the world, with new and adapted forms of complementary treatment emerging. The three most recognized and widely practiced techniques are:
Practiced in several Asian countries, this technique aims for stimulation of the points instead of relaxation. It combines thumb-sliding with other pressure techniques using knuckles and thin wooden sticks, with firm pressure and fast, fluid motions.
In this technique, the practitioner uses thumb-walking or presses the reflex points with thumbs and other fingers, keeping an even pressure across the entire foot.
This is a blend of techniques that aims at aligning the energy systems of the body by stimulating the flow of vital energy (prana) through the energy centres in the foot.
Where to Start?
Convinced you want to try, but don’t know where to start? Well don’t worry, because Avaana has your back! With over 1000 practitioners to choose from across Australia, Avaana can help you find and compare your local reflexologist to ensure that you’re picking the right one for you. Found one, but still looking do more for your health? Avaana can help with that too, thanks to our vast collection of complementary and alternative medicine available. Book now and even get up to 20% off your first booking!
Be well, feel good, and smile a lot!