Reflexology

History     What happens during a treatment     How reflexology may help

History

Massage to the feet as an aid to relaxation or a method of healing, has been used for many thousands of years. From ancient texts and illustrations, it has been found that the ancient Chinese, Indians and Egyptians all used some form of foot therapy.

In the early part of the 20th Century, Dr William Fitzgerald, an American ENT specialist, discovered that by pressing on one part of the body, another area would be anaesthetised. He later performed minor surgery using this technique. From what he understood by his research, he divided the body into 10 longitudinal zones, working on the principle that pressure on an area within a particular zone would have a direct influence on all the tissues and organs lying within that same zone. He drew an imaginary line up the centre of the body with five divisions to the left, and five to the right of this line. These divisions, or zones, are divided by each of the toes or fingers. For example if the big toe was zone one and we drew a line from there all the way up the body to the head, manipulation or pressure on the big toe and parts of the foot that lay within that vertical line, would affect all those areas that fell within zone one throughout the whole body.

One of Fitzgerald's colleagues Dr Edwin Bowers attempted to bring zone therapy to the attention of the medical profession and general public in 1915. After writing an article 'To stop that toothache, squeeze your toe' he and Fitzgerald published a book in 1917 'Zone Therapy'. Although many Doctors dismissed his writing, Dr Joseph Shelby Riley and his wife Elizabeth Ann Riley  became interested and with further research used his theory in their Chiropractic school in Washington DC. A physiotherapist in their school Eunice Ingham, also became intrigued and after further work and research, developed foot reflexology. Using Dr Fitzgerald's zones, Eunice Ingham charted the whole of the body onto the feet, mirroring or reflecting the anatomical positions of the organs and tissues onto the sole, top of the foot and ankle.

In the 1960's, Doreen Bayly, who had studied with Eunice Ingham in America, brought reflexology to Great Britain.

A reflexology treatment

Reflexology uses a combination of massage, with gentle working of specific points on the feet. The treatment begins with a short massage of the feet to relax and loosen any tightness and tension. This is followed by small movements over each foot using the thumbs and finger pads. Occasionally a slight tenderness may be felt on an area where there is a slight imbalance. By gently working this area any blockages should disperse to allow for a free flow of energy to resume.

What it may help with

It is considered that as much as 75% of illness is stress related. As reflexology is a deeply relaxing, balancing experience, this provides the optimum conditions for self healing. It may help with anxiety, tension, insomnia, digestive disturbances, fluid retention, sinus congestion, respiratory disorders, PMT and IBS.

It is not necessary for you to be feeling unwell to enjoy the benefits of reflexology. Whatever your condition you can expect to be left with a reassuring feeling of tranquility and well-being, making this treatment an uplifting experience for anyone.

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