Is Foot Reflexology Real?
Category: Massage Posted: 05 Aug 2018
Posted: 05 Aug 2018
The Internet is awash with claims for and against the principles of reflexology and whether or not it works. Reflexologists look up at the soles of your feet. The rest of us look down. Perhaps everyone is looking at reflexology the wrong way around?
After all, we are talking simply about massaging feet. Surely that should not cause a huge debate? Having said that, the reflexology foot map shown above looks pretty complicated. Read on to explore a little deeper.
(See also: Foot reflexology's closely related sister treatment, hand reflexology)
What is reflexology?
Reflexologists believe applying pressure to certain parts of your feet can have beneficial healing effects in other parts of your body. The foot reflexology map above shows which body parts and organs are believed to be connected, via invisible energy channels, to certain pressure points on the feet.
Got a blocked nose? Try pressing the middle of your right foot’s big toe.
Suffering from a weakened libido? Get some pinpoint pressure on to your heels and the belief is that you could be active again in that department very soon!
If all that sounds too good to be true, consider this: we just don’t know the truth! And nor does anyone else. As we said at the top there are quite literally thousands of theories, supported by millions of people, for and against these beliefs.
So what does science say?
There has been lots of reflexology research but no conclusive scientific evidence presented either anatomically or physiologically to verify that energy lines actually connect the various parts of your body to the soles of your feet.
However, there is also no scientific evidence which has disproven the theories.
So what does this all mean? Throughout the history of the human race, we have repeatedly seen things proven that we did not previously understand or believe. So we say, let's keep an open mind and enjoy foot rubs regardless.
Reflexology and Chi (or Qi)
The belief that our bodies are a network of vital energy flows which work best when clear is entwined with the long-standing Chinese tradition of Chi. These principles are also used in many other Asian treatment styles from Shiatsu to the whole Ayruveda medicinal system.
More recently, studies on the Neuromatrix theory of pain have asserted that indeed the brain may not only respond with a feeling of pain to physical tissue damage but also to negative emotional factors. This suggests that external factors such as stress or mood can cause your brain to respond with a feeling of pain.
Reflexology, Shiatsu, and acupressure and acupunture treatments in general, may therefore be reducing the pain you feel in the parts of your body that were not even touched simply by reducing overall stress and anxiety.
A Simple Foot Massage
So back to the original question, is reflexology real or not?
Whichever way you are inclined to feel about the underlying beliefs of foot reflexology, it is hard to argue with one thing: having your feet massaged feels good!
Science is not always the answer to everything and sometimes it helps to stand back (or sit back if you’re receiving reflexology right now!) and look at the bigger picture. If something feels good, then that will most likely reduce your stress levels. And it is scientifically proven that reducing stress is good for your health. Some people love certain parts of reflexology and dislike others. For example, targeted pressure applied to the middle of the heel of each foot is popular ... look at the reflexology foot chart above and you’ll see maybe why that’s no surprise! On the other hand, many people find the technique of pinching the area in-between the toes, which is supposedly good for relieving tired eyes, quite uncomfortable. As always, feel free to speak up and ask your massage therapist to adapt her treatment if anything feels painful or you just don't like it.
We think that every 90 minute full-body massage should include a good foot massage, lasting around 5 - 10 minutes. Whether that means including targeted zone therapy based on the beliefs of reflexology to help alleviate issues in other parts of your body or not, is completely up to you. What it does mean is that your feet should feel more relaxed, you should feel happier and lighter and all that together will have a positive holistic effect on your wellness.
You can download a foot reflexology chart by clicking the image below. If you would like to publish the chart on your own website or use it publicly elsewhere, please ensure that an accreditation to The Massage Rooms is included and the chart not amended in any way from the version we have made available for download.