Before modern medicine and state of the art hospitals, healing was often sought through methods that are unconventional by today's standards. One of those methods was foot reflexology, or zone therapy. While not officially named as such until the late 1800's and early 1900's, foot reflexology has been around for thousands of years. In the quest for alternative healing methods, many are turning to foot reflexology once again to secure the health and wellbeing that the ancients experienced through its practice.
The foot has pressure points that correspond to other parts of the body. In foot reflexology, pressure is applied to these specific pressure points using specific thumb, finger and hand techniques. Where the pressure is applied on the foot depends upon the part of the body one is seeking relief for.
As stated earlier, foot reflexology has been around for centuries. As early as 3000 B.C. the Chinese documented using reflexology in their healing practices. The Egyptians have documented these techniques as well, through engravings and paintings on tomb walls.
Modern reflexology practices are said to stem from the 1890's research of Sir Henry Head of London, while others credit Dr. William Fitzgerald who in 1917 wrote a book titled Zone Therapy. In this work, Dr. Fitzgerald shared what he had discovered in his practice. He learned that by putting pressure on the tips of each finger with clamps or rubber bands it resulted in an anesthetic affect on the patient's nerves. This allowed him to do minor surgery without the use of an anesthetic. He divided the body up into equal zones, and a problem area in a specific zone had a reflex in a corresponding zone of the foot.
In the 1930's a physical therapist named Eunice Ingham began to study and further develop foot refleology. Eunice is credited with creating the foot chart which maps the body for reflexology points, and is also hailed by some as the pioneer of modern reflexology.
Breaking down the process of foot reflexology gives better insight into how it functions in the healing process. Pressure is applied to the corresponding pressure sensors in each foot. When applied to the appropriate point, the pressure causes changes in the levels of bodily tension. Tension is believed to be responsible for the onset of 75% of diseases. Relieving that tension in specific parts of the body allows the blood and oxygen to flow freely to the targeted areas, bringing healing with it.
The benefits of foot reflexology are numerous. As previously noted, a major benefit is the reduction of stress in the body and the diseases that stress produces. Not only does in impact stress related diseases, it restores equilibrium and the natural balance of the body. It stimulates the flow of blood and lymph circulation which aids in the flushing of toxins out of the body.
Foot reflexology is often confused with foot massage. While the process may resemble massage, the technique is actually one of stimulating specific pressure points. Because it is different from massage technique, those who practice foot reflexology are exempt from the required "Massage Therapist" credentials. Even though there are no credential requirements for foot reflexologists, you can find practicing reflexologists that have been trained and certified in specific methods. Always do reasearch before selecting a practitioner.
If you are interested in doing your own foot reflexology, there are numerous resources available for individual study and training. Study can be done through distance learning or through one of many seminars that are offered throughout the country on a regular basis.
- Photo Credit www.reflexologyinstitute.com, www.flickr.com
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