To best benefit from the ancient art of reflexology, it is important first to understand what it is. Reflexology is the use of pressure on certain points and in certain ways on the pressure points of the body. The focus of reflexology is generally the feet, although points on the hands and ears are also useful. There are many theories on why reflexology works, though the mechanisms are not well understood. One of the prominent theories is that it affects the qi. Qi is much like an invisible force field around the body that must flow correctly in order to be healthy and vital. The theory of reflexology and qi is that if a blockage occurs within the qi, a reflexologist can unblock this life force and thus cause healing. Another theory is that the correct use of the pressure points can enhance blood and lymph circulation as well as releasing endorphins (the body's natural painkillers) throughout the body, causing increased health and decreased pain. Research is ongoing into the exact workings of reflexology.
Reflexology has many widely available charts that can guide as to what part of the body is connected to what part of the foot. There are also certified reflexologists that can guide the use of this technique. Be aware that in the United States it only takes a six month course to claim reflexologist certification, while in Europe only degreed health care providers can become certified in reflexology. Finding a reputable and reliable reflexologist may take work, but is a good precaution to take. A number of techniques from pressure to massage to motion therapy can be used in conjunction with the reflexology charts. The therapy is more effective if done consistently, rather than once in a while.
Many benefits can be seen from using reflexology. Though it should only be used as a complement to modern medicine, not a replacement, it has many advantages. Some of the benefits that can be seen from using reflexology include a decrease in pain, improved blood flow, better blood pressure and cholesterol levels, postoperative recovery comfort, as a complement to treatments for cancer, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and easier delivery and recovery for pregnant women.
As with all natural remedies, be sure to discuss with your health care provider if reflexology is being used as a complement to a medical treatment. The foot pressure points have been linked to many different parts of the body and have been used to enhance the experience of people suffering from a wide variety of maladies. When reflexology is shown to be a good option, it is recommended that a reputable reflexologist is found and that questions are brought to them in relation to the health goals.