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What is reflexology?

Reflexology is a complementary therapy that involves the application of pressure to the feet (and sometimes hands) in order to bring about a state of deep relaxation, stimulate the body's own healing power and restore a state of well-being and health.

How does it work?

Reflexology is based on the principle that there are points and areas on the feet and hands that correspond to all the body's major organs, glands and systems.

In a state of health, energy flows freely through channels in the body. However, stress from emotional issues, the environment, diet and lifestyle can result in congestion or blockages that may lead to discomfort or physical symptoms.

An important part of the treatment is to identify these blockages, which can be felt as deposits within the tissue. Gently loosening these as well as stimulating all the points and areas that correspond to the whole body helps to balance energy flow and stimulate healing. In this way, reflexology is a holistic therapy, treating the whole person and not just the symptoms.

What are its origins?

Historical evidence in the form of ancient texts, illustrations and artifacts show that foot and hand treatments have been used in many cultures, including China, India and Egypt, for thousands of years. For example, an Egyptian tomb drawing dating back to 2,330 BC shows a person being treated with hand massage and another with foot massage.

Reflexology in its current form had its beginnings in the early 20th century when Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat specialist noticed that applying pressure to one part of the body anaesthetized a corresponding area in a distant part. He put together his findings to develop Zone Therapy.

In the 1930s, Eunice Ingham, a physical therapist, took this work further. She realized that the feet were the most responsive areas for working on reflexes because of their great sensitivity. She mapped the whole body on the feet and dedicated many years to sharing her knowledge with other therapists. In 1960 Doreen Bayly, one of her students, introduced reflexology to England and its popularity has grown since.


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