If you're ill, how can the act of simply massaging the feet improve your health and make you feel better?
Long ago in our history, maybe as far back as four thousand years, people knew that massaging the feet had an effect on the body. Certainly, there is evidence from both ancient Egypt and from India and China that foot massage was used in those times as a treatment and cure.
These ancient people had no way of knowing how the processes worked and simply accepted the results that they saw and, if a particular treatment worked, they ensured that the practice became well known and well used.
With the benefit of those age-old customs it is now possible to, not only write down instructions for the practice of reflexology so these may be passed onto new practitioners, but to explain the probable mechanism by which it works.
In the same way that blood circulates around the body, so does energy but in this case the energy is called Chi (pronounce it 'chee'). Chi energy flows throughout the body in predefined pathways, running up and down the trunk, the arms, then up and down each leg and finally into the feet. It is the same energy that is used in acupuncture but for reflexology we look at the soles of the feet on which are 'reflex points' where a skilled reflexologist can sense and manipulate this energy.
Massaging the reflex points seems to give mobility to the chi energy and moves it around the body and in this way it can affect the body at a distance from the feet.
Particular areas on the feet control particular areas on the body and it is as if each foot has one complete half of the body mapped onto it so that the left half of the body is found on the left foot and the right half on the right. It is easy to see how reflexology can affect an organ or a part of the body far removed from the feet just by manipulating the appropriate reflex points on the feet. In this way reflexology is very much a similar practice, and uses similar methods, to both acupuncture and acupressure.
So what can be achieved by stimulating reflex points? The idea of balance in the body is an important concept and is easily understood. To work properly and to keep you healthy, your body needs to have the right balance of chemicals circulating within it and it needs to be able to maintain that balance.
When you are not in good health your body slips out of balance and you begin to feel ill. However, your body is programmed to try as hard as it can to restore the balance and this is the self-healing process that we are all familiar with.
Usually you slowly, but surely, begin to recover your health as the balance is restored. What was discovered all those years ago was that the recovery process was enhanced by stimulating the flow of chi energy around the body and it is easy now to see how this can be made to happen.
Reflexology, and may similar therapies, are an attempt to help the body to heal itself and they work by manipulating the flow of energy which removes blockages and restores balance and harmony.
So during an illness there is a constant struggle between the illness on the one hand and the natural tendency of the body to want to get better. In this way, reflexology assists recovery and can be used as a powerful aid to help conventional medicine achieve the same result.
However, the usefulness of reflexology treatment is wider even than this. There are many occasions when we feel down and 'out of sorts' yet would not describe ourselves as ill. This may be due to the effects of stress or something as unrelated as a very emotional period in our lives. However, the effect on the body is the same; it is similar to a minor illness and, in these circumstances, reflexology, like other similar therapies, will help by assisting the body to help itself and redress even small imbalances.
Reflexology is not a cure in the sense that it removes an illness but it is a very powerful way of assisting your body to cure itself and help itself back into balance and works all the way from the most major of illnesses to the most minor. The other thing worth knowing is that a reflexology treatment is one of the nicest things that you can have done to yourself, but that is maybe something that you will have to learn for yourself.
By Mike Taperell
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