A Chronology of Reflexology
Confused about reflexology and whether it could benefit you in any way? Wondering if this ancient healing practice can be the key to healing your mind and body? Well wonder no more! Certified Alternative Medicine Tutor Nada Rashed explores the history of reflexology, the impact that it may have on your body and how it actually works.
Apply Pressure like an Egyptian
Reflexology is an ancient healing science which dates back to the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. It has continued to develop over the centuries, with the help of doctors and healers across the world, to become the kind of practice that it is today.
The Human Map
Reflexology is based on the principle that a complete map of the human body exists on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. The map reflects all organs of the human body, from your head to your toe. The upper part of your foot, for instance, represents the upper part of your body which include the chest, the heart, the shoulders and partially the arms. As you go lower on your foot and hand, you also go to a lower corresponding area on your body.
Dr. William Fitzgerald is an American pioneer in the field of reflexology. Not only was he was an ear, nose and throat specialist, but he was also the first one to start making a connection between applying pressure to a painful area of the body and releasing pain from that very same area. This is essentially the same concept that reflexologists continue to follow today.
In Your Own Zone
Dr. Fitzgerald also discovered what is referred to as ‘zone therapy’, which divides the body into equal longitudinal zones. Dr. Joseph Riley, who worked with Dr. Fitzgerald, later added horizontal zones, across the hands and feet, to the longitudinal zones. This made it easier to determine the different individual reflexes according to the ‘Zone Theory’.
The difference between zone therapy and reflexology must be made clear though. Reflexology works on the zones of the body as well as the different reflexes representing the organs. It thus works to identify the sore areas which are out of balance. On the other hand, zone therapy works mainly on the zones to determine the areas which need to be worked on.
Eunice Ingham was one of the students of Dr. Riley’s zone therapy. She became the main pioneer of reflexology as it is known today. Ingham practiced on hundreds of cases before confirming that “reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body.” In her famous book, “Stories Feet Can Tell”, she recorded her cases and outlined the foot reflexes which are commonly used today. As a result of the wide range of beneficial knowledge which it contained, Ingham’s book was translated into seven different languages.
Press, Signal, Relieve
So how does reflexology actually work?
- During a normal session, the reflexologist applies pressure on the different points of your foot or hands which represent the different body organs.
- Through this pressure, and because of existing nerve endings on your feet and hands, the brain receives a signal.
- Upon receiving the signal, your brain begins releasing hormones such as cortisol and endorphins. The first is responsible for reducing the pain that you may be suffering from and the latter is in charge of making you feel ‘happier’ and less stressed, thus causing you to feel more relaxed after your session.