How Does Foot Reflexology Help?

A therapeutic Foot Reflexology massage helps the body and mind in a number of ways.

#1. Significantly reduces stress and tension held in the body, and calms the mind.

#2. Improves circulation throughout the body systems, aids digestion and elimination, and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells.

#3. Promotes balanced function and normalization of the Central Nervous System and Endocrine System.

#4. It feels darn good.

The two primary affects of a foot reflexology session are relief of tension and stress from the body and a resulting improvement of circulation throughout the body system. Better circulation provides more oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells, improving vitality, muscle, tissue and organ function.

Deep relaxation allows better circulation of blood through veins and arteries, lymph fluid through glands, and aids fluid regulation. Normalizing heart rate and improving kidney function helps regulate blood pressure. During a session, people often notice that their stomach is gurgling which is usually peristalsis occurring in the small intestine, aiding digestion and movement of food.

Based in the principles of acupuncture, stimulation of nerve endings creates an ‘electrical’ charge to target areas and surroundings – opening blockages in energy meridians due to stress, trauma or injury; revitalizing nerve response-ability, and equalizing under-functioning or over-stimulated organs and Endocrine glands. Lymphatic drainage techniques reduce excess water retention and help detoxify the body. Immune system function is strengthened.

Specialized thumb and finger techniques help to break up inorganic mineral deposits (calcium, uric acid crystals etc.) that collect in the feet (and hands) because of gravity, because of the small bones and narrow tissue areas, and circulatory pattern of blood returning to the heart.

These deposits can be felt under the skin as ‘salt’ crystals or as tiny hard pebbles and can press on nerve endings, creating referred pain in corresponding areas and impeding circulation. For example, most people who suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain will have numerous crystal deposits in the area between the bones of the fourth and small toe.

The feet work very hard throughout a person’s lifetime. Sometimes, one of the 26 bones can be displaced during sports activity, stubbing a toe,  stepping on uneven ground, or wearing ill-fitting shoes. This can cause not only pain in the foot but also referred pain if a nerve is pinched. Your body will compensate a favored foot by altering your gait which can cause misalignment in other areas like ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, spine shoulders and neck. I am amazed how often a bone gets ‘re-placed’ during a session that resolves seemingly unrelated issues.

The mind and body do not function separately.

Our states of mind have a direct influence on our physical health – when we are depressed, our energy bunches up into a knot. When we experience stress of any kind whether from an enjoyable source or, more commonly, from sources that seem difficult or unpleasant, muscles and tissue of the  body contract in avoidance or as a protective measure. Hormones are released which cause physical changes in the body. If hormone function is imbalanced, organs, muscles and moods are affected, leading to agitation, anxiety, aggression, nervousness, fatigue, loss of vitality and joy in being alive.

Reflexology, by stimulating the Endocrine System and reducing stress, stimulates calmness and well-being in the mind, reducing confusion and anxiety. People may find it easier to focus and concentrate.

The spine and brain link to all body parts and systems through nerves, an electrical ‘wiring’ that makes everything run smoothly through a signalling process. This process is exquisitely designed to maintain balance in all functions of the body. ‘Balance’ in this instance is not like a 50/50% ratio. Release and inhibition of secretions in organs and glands occurs in response to constantly changing conditions. The conditions that cause change happen inside the body (like digestive processes) or respond to external influences, like sounds, smells, touch, and what we see.
We don’t control this activity by decision, it all happens naturally. This process is called homeostasis and it is present in all living things from cells to the universe. The quality of our thoughts can influence this balancing activity.
How we experience and interpret what we see, and what happens to us, determines the quality of our thoughts. Becoming aware of the thoughts that are in our minds is one of the purposes of ‘mindfulness’. Persistent negative thoughts, conscious or subconscious, result in negative emotions which release hormones related to fear. As with any repetitive learning or activity, thoughts can become ‘second nature’ or habitual unless they are consciously interrupted and ‘re-trained’. Stress and blockages in energy pathways can reinforce negative thoughts and emotions which, in turn, toxify tissues and organs. Foot Reflexology massage affords a deep level of relaxation that increases well-being and supports beneficial hormone stimulation, interrupting patterns that can lead to depression and illness.


What Is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a science that investigates nerve reflex response.

The body is a mass of cells that have collected to form bones, tissue, blood and lymph, all contained in a ‘bag’ of skin that holds the mass together and protects what’s inside. The mass functions by a jointly regulated operation of constant electrical-chemical exchanges between the Central Nervous System (nerves originating in the brain and spine) and the Endocrine System (glands).

The response of nerves and glands is like when a conductor of an orchestra playing improvisational music manages to create a harmonious, balanced sound because all the players are totally genius musical prodigies in their souls. They don’t know what will happen next, but they respond to the conductors’ random movements in a way that is basically perfect.

This describes the body in a state of good health.

If someone pokes the outside of the skin ‘bag’ at any point the nerve endings located at this point respond by relaying information to the spine and brain. Reflexology studies the ‘electrical’ paths that are connected to the point of contact and measures changes that occur throughout the body in response to pressure. The Endocrine glands release appropriate hormones in response to signals from the brain.

This is like observing the orchestra, when the conductor waves his hands, even though only certain instruments are played, sound waves are created that everybody hears.
Stress, injury, diet, and environmental influences can make certain orchestra members deaf to the sounds of their colleagues or blind to the instructions of the conductor so that they miss their cues and throw the sound out of balance and harmony. The flow of the music is interrupted or blocked.

This describes the body when it is not in optimal health.

The use of pressure point massage on hands, feet and other parts of the body to maintain health, prevent illness, and heal the body has been practiced in cultures for centuries. The earliest recorded evidence of this (hieroglyphics from a physicians’ tomb in Egypt) is from 2330 BC.

Western scientists have been studying the paths and functions of nerves since the late 1800s which has led to present-day neurological science.
What has been proven beyond doubt is that pressure applied to the skin causes a nerve response that causes physiological changes in the body. Some of these changes have been measured in temperature, moisture levels, circulation, relaxation and contraction of muscle and tissue, and cellular activity. I hope that soon, the effects of Reflexology will be studied using fMRI’s or other brain response measuring instruments, if it is not already being done.

Foot Reflexology is the practice of massaging and applying pressure to specific points on the feet using specialized thumb, finger and hand techniques. There are 7,200 nerve endings in each foot. When pressure is applied, a reflex response occurs that reverberates throughout the body and influences circulation, muscles, nerves, tissue, gland and organ function.

Why I Chose to Learn Reflexology

The first time I had a foot reflexology session, I had never felt more deeply relaxed when it was finished. A chronic pain in my neck disappeared.

I was able to observe what happened to others over a six-months period who were receiving weekly sessions for a wide variety of issues. Some were seriously ill and had been given up on by their doctors; some had nagging ailments, chronic pain and fatigue; some were overweight or dissatisfied with their health, relationships, jobs and lives.

After about six months, many who had been seriously ill had returned to a state of health and well-being that enabled them to enjoy an improved quality of life.

One man’s feet had been so painful that walking was difficult and the therapist was scarcely able to touch them in the first session. Sensitivity  decreased with each visit and he was able to walk normally. His overall state of health had also improved and he had more vitality.

I was surprised to see a husband and wife who had both been generally unhappy, lethargic and heading for divorce, burst exuberantly into the office looking trim and five years younger; the stress lines, paleness and sadness gone from their faces, heading off to vacation together.

I was deeply impressed by the overall beneficial effects that Foot Reflexology yielded for people from all walks of life and determined then that I would like to provide a service like that – one that positively affected physical and mental health in the context of an enjoyable experience.

In 2010, legislators separated Reflexology from massage therapy licensing. I  became certified in the Ingham Method after completing training with the International Institute of Reflexology, was then certified by the American Reflexology Certification Board and obtained a license to practice in the State of New Hampshire.

During the learning process and since being licensed, I have performed well over 750 hours of Foot Reflexology. I continue to investigate other teachings and expand my understanding of the body, the mind, and the relationships of elements that exist in how we function as individuals and as human beings.
My confidence in the effectiveness of Foot Reflexology not only for problems with the feet but as a curative, preventative and maintenance method for better health has grown over time after experiencing consistently beneficial results with the people who have come for sessions.