Over the last few decades we have seen more and more Chinese massage storefronts in major cities with reflexology on their menu. We see a lot of these stores that have advertised on their windows “reflexology and foot detox” packages to improve health and wellness. Many people that pass by these storefronts and see the advertising on the windows have no idea what exactly reflexology is and don’t even know how it relates to the feet. However, many people have sworn how a weekly foot reflexology session has remarkably improved their health and lives.
Mary, one of my patients found herself laid over in an airport for three hours with a terrible migraine. She was on her way to a very important business meeting and the stress was overwhelming. She was desperate as the Advil she took did not get rid of her migraine. Then she passed a massage stall with a sign that read Reflexology.” She remembered I had once told her I was studying it, so she felt she would give it a try. She discovered that just by slowing down and allowing herself to feel her own body and catch her breath the migraine became less overwhelming. She felt more peaceful and the migraine miraculously disappeared. She told me the story when she seen me for her visit in the office and was very appreciative that I told her about reflexology and its benefits. But was it really a miracle, or is there a science behind reflexology?
Reflexology as we know it today is based on an ancient form of therapy that focused on the hands and feet. A “reflex” is an involuntary response to a stimulus, and the word itself derives from the word “reflection.” Like a mirror that reflects our image back to us, the specific reflex points of the feet mirror various parts of the body. While reflexology is not entirely the same as TCM from which the practice probably derived, it is still based on the same principles of holistic healing system that recognize the connection between the feet and the entire human system: body, mind, and spirit.
Reflexology can reduce stress (the probable cause of so many illnesses in today’s world), it relaxes the body and mind, improves nerve function, and helps in the body’s detoxification process. By intentionally massaging the correct areas of the feet, we can stimulate over 14,000 nerve endings that help open the neural pathways throughout the body. Reflexology also improves vascular and lymph circulation that carries toxins out through the bloodstream and brings in oxygen and nutrients to our cells, keeping us more energized, more attentive, and strong. The increased energy flow from foot reflexology also enhances our emotional well-being, which is very much why many people of all ages are flocking to yoga and meditation classes these days.
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