Reflexology is based on the principle that reflexes (points and areas) on the hands, feet and lower leg correspond to internal organs and other physical structures. A Reflexologist will stimulate specific places on the foot according to a “micro map of the body” to access the organs, muscles, bones, nerves, lymph nodes and glands of the body.

Origins of Reflexology

Reflexology dates back thousands of years and many cultures have contributed to the practice. The oldest evidence of reflexology is from Ancient Tomb drawings from 2500 BC depicting feet being held and massaged. Over time this practice spread to Greece, Arabia then onto Europe through the Roman Empire. Forms of Reflexology were also practiced in Ancient India by Buddhist monks who migrated to China and India.

Western reflexology emerged in the late 18th Century, with scientists proving the neurological relationship that exists between the skin and the internal organs and that the whole nervous system adjusts to a stimulus. Further work by Dr. William Fitzgerald created zone therapy, from that, in the 1930’s Eunice Ingham refined Dr. Fitzgerald’s work and developed what we know as ‘western reflexology’. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot mirrored congestion or tension in a related part of the body. Using this knowledge, she created the foot and hand maps that most reflexologist use today.

Reflexology in its current form is practiced worldwide. Its aim is to return the body to a state of internal and external balance. Reflexology has been known to assist in the relief of a wide range of health symptoms – everything from aching feet to headaches and helps to restore a sense of balance in mind, body and spirit.


foot reflexology

It is now estimated that 75% of ailments, injuries, aches and pains are present due to stress. Reflexology allows the body to release that stress enabling the body to repair and heal itself.

Reflexology is known to:

  • Relieve the effects of stress
  • Improve and supports the immune system
  • Increase circulation
  •  Clear the body of toxins
  • Relieve pain
  • Improve Digestion
  • Eliminate waste from the body
  • Promote relaxation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve and balances hormonal function
  • Relax tense muscles and ligaments
  • Improve nerve function
  • Improve sleep

The combination of relaxation and the physical changes during a treatment places reflexology as an effective treatment for stress related issues, sore muscles, headaches, sinus issues, digestive issues, depression, menstrual issues, injury recovery, pregnancy and many, many more illnesses and conditions.

Reflexology treats the whole person by bringing harmony to the physical, mental and emotional, it considers the whole person rather than just focusing on one illness. It can support people living with chronic conditions, as treatment for acute issues and as a prevention and maintenance program. Reflexology is very effective in supporting women and couples through the journey of fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. It is suitable for everyone, all ages, young or old.

Professional Reflexologists work holistically with their clients and aim to work alongside traditional western healthcare to promote better health for their clients. They do not claim to diagnose, cure or prescribe.

reflexology foot chart

(Great picture from here) When Reflexologists work on certain areas (the above showing a foot reflexology chart) it seems to increase:

  • Relaxation and tension relief
  • Helps the body to normalize itself naturally
  • Promotes general health and well-being

These are the main areas where Reflexology excels and actually has some evidence to back it up.

According to the MayoClinic, several studies funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health indicate that reflexology may:

  • reduce pain and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and enhance relaxation and sleep. Studies also show that reflexology may have benefits in palliative care of people with cancer.

However other possible facts have had little evidence to back them up (like diabetes and cancer treatments).

Reflexology and Massage?

Reflexology only focuses on the feet, hands and even face and ears in some cases where massage covers the whole body.

In reflexology you only need to remove your socks and shoes but in massage you have to remove all your clothes.

Reflexology can be done on anyone with mobility issues, the practitioner just needs access to the hands or feet. It can be done in a hospital setting, sitting down, standing up or lying down.

Reflexology is a holistic treatment working on and affecting every part of the body, organs, glands and muscles. The aim is to balance the body and improve functionality. It also has a huge impact on the emotional state of the body, helping release stuck energy and emotion.

Standard Remedial and Relaxation massage just focuses on releasing and relaxing fascia and muscle tissue.

From reflexology to something else, check out the healthcare page.

The medical information on the web site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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About Dominic Hough

Hi. I'm Dominic. I treat patients every day at a local clinic. I am a trained Chiropodist and I care about prevention. I designed the website to help readers understand treat and even prevent issues from happening to their feet.