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Reflexology: A History and Usage Guide

by Adam Howarth, Editor

Reflexology: A History and Usage Guide is by our holistic therapist Emma Sims

One of the most popular holistic therapies that I offer, alongside aromatherapy massage and reiki, is reflexology, a form of massage for the feet.

What Is Reflexology?

We often take our feet for granted. They carry us repeatedly from A to B and back again and we don’t give them a second thought or thank you. After a relaxing reflexology treatment, many people report that their feet feel like they have air-cushioned soles! Not to mention the potential health benefits from supporting the immunity, nerve function, digestion, circulation, pain relief, stress reduction, relaxation and more.

There is evidence that reflexology goes back to Egyptian times as cave paintings depict people massaging the feet. Who doesn’t love a foot rub? Those with tickly feet!

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I can count on one foot, however, the number of people who haven’t been able to go ahead with a treatment. This reluctance is because reflexology is a focused firm massage which some people can’t tolerate.

How Did Reflexology Start

Modern reflexology began with Dr William Fitzgerald in America. He was an ear nose and throat specialist who found that pressure, when applied to zones of the feet, exerted an analgesic, pain-relieving effect. Additionally, physical therapist, Eunice Ingham, worked with Fitzgerald to create “foot maps” showing which areas of the feet relate to the body.

Doreen Bayley introduced reflexology to the UK in the 1960s. Since then, its popularity has grown as people experience the benefits not just on a physical level, but also on a mental and emotional level. Reflexology demonstrated its marvels to me at college when it helped my first client with their bad back, just working with the feet. I found reflexology helped to support me when I gave up smoking as well as other benefits.

How Does It Work?  

Stimulating pressure points on the feet, hands, or ear can help the body’s vital force or energy flow. Accordingly, each part of the hand or foot links to various body parts or organs in the body. Blockages in our energy or “zones” can indicate imbalances and may appear as “crunchy crystals” in the feet and hands.

We do not use reflexology diagnostically. That is for GPs, and most practitioners work in a complementary way to allopathic care. A client who has health conditions, such as epilepsy, diabetes or a stroke, may require a letter from a GP so do mention this when booking in with a reflexologist.

The number of treatments needed varies and no results are guaranteed. Acute conditions such as a bad back may respond to one or two reflexology treatments, others that are chronic like fatigue may need a course of regular treatment.

Like many therapists, during lockdowns, I’ve had to adapt my work. I began running workshops on hand reflexology and one-to-one sessions online. I saw people were relaxing and enjoying the benefits. It was great to see people feeling more relaxed and, subsequently, more energized. A real silver lining at this time.

Emma is a complementary holistic therapist, intuitive practitioner and Reiki teacher with 20+ years’ experience in this field. She has a clinic at the Community Resource Centre in Gwersyllt.

Emma Sims has written a book about self-care available through Motiv8.Me. Obtain more details from emmasims.co.uk.

We hope you enjoyed reading our article about “Reflexology: A History And Usage Guide”. Please see our other articles on well-being.

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