Reflexology is a complementary health therapy that applies pressure to specific points on the feet (called reflexes) to detect imbalances, release blockages and alleviate symptoms elsewhere in the body. It is based on the theory that your feet represent a map of your body, and when the reflex points on the foot are massaged they can bring about a positive effect in the corresponding part of the body. The theory is supported by studies in Japan which showed that working on a specific reflex point on the foot increased blood flow to the corresponding area of the brain. (1,2)
Reflexology therapy is a form of healing dating back thousands of years to Ancient Egypt, India and China. It was introduced to the West by Dr William Fitzgerald who developed ‘Zone therapy’. He believed that reflex areas on the feet were linked to other areas of the body within the same zone. In the 1930s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body
What are the benefits of Reflexology?
Reflexology practitioners believe that stimulating the reflex points on the feet can trigger the body’s own natural healing process and restore balance in the body. The treatment works very much on an individual basis and is a holistic treatment which takes account of both physical and emotional issues. Most people who have experienced reflexology agree that it is a very relaxing therapy.
Reflexology has been known to help:
- headaches and sinus congestion
- pain and stiffness in the neck and back
- common pregnancy symptoms such as fluid retention
- relieve tension and aid relaxation
- improve mood and well-being.
Surveys carried out by The British Reflexology Association has also shown benefits to those with symptoms of stress, insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome.
While this is positive research, as yet, there is not a large enough body of evidence to make clinical claims of effectiveness.
Who can Reflexology help?
Anyone can benefit. Reflexology is suitable for all ages, including children and the elderly.
What should I expect from my first Reflexology appointment?
Giuliana Newman is a fully qualified reflexologist, treating at The Forge Clinic, Richmond. She will conduct a medical history and ask you about any issues you would like help with. You will recline on a treatment bed fully clothed, apart from your shoes and socks. The treatment involves precise, pressure techniques applied to both feet. Areas of the feet may feel a little tender when massaged, which indicates the degree of imbalance in the body. Generally, though, the experience should be relaxing. If you fall asleep, you will still receive the benefits. It is normally a dry treatment with oil applied at the end for a soothing foot massage.
This Reflexology treatment can also be accompanied with general massage in our Combination Massage Package which involves 30 minutes of massage on the back/neck/ shoulders followed by 30 minutes of Reflexology on the feet.
How many sessions will I need?
There are no recommended number of treatment sessions. Some patients see results after one or two sessions. Others choose to come regularly for preventive care, relaxation and overall wellbeing.
If you have any queries regarding Reflexology or are unsure if it is suitable for you please do not hesitate to get in touch with our reception team and we will be happy to help.
Please note that our treatments do not replace medical advice and treatment. If you have any concerns, please see your GP first.
(1) Somatotopical relationships between cortical activity and reflex areas in reflexology: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Nakamaru T, Miura N, Fukushima A, Kawashima R. Neurosci Lett. 2008 Dec 19;448(1):6-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2008.10.022.
(2) Activity in the primary somatosensory cortex induced by reflexological stimulation is unaffected by pseudo-information: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Miura N, Akitsuki Y, Sekiguchi A, Kawashima Complement Altern Med. 2013 May 27;13:114.