WHAT IS REFLEXOLOGY
(Answers from Brent A. Bauer, M.D.)
Reflexology is the application of pressure to areas on the feet, hands and ears. Reflexology is generally relaxing and may be an effective way to alleviate stress.
The theory behind reflexology is that these areas correspond to organs and systems of the body. Proponents believe that pressure applied to these areas affects the organs and benefits the person's health.
Reflexologists use foot charts to guide them as they apply pressure to specific areas. Sometimes these practitioners use items, such as rubber balls, rubber bands and sticks of wood, (or crystals) to assist in their work. Practitioners of reflexology include chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists, among others.
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.
THEORY OF REFLEXOLOGY
Feet are understood to serve as mini-maps of the human body. The neurological theory behind reflexology states that reflex areas in the hands/feet correspond to all the glands, organs and musculoskeletal systems in the human body.
Wearing shoes all day combined with stress, illness, lack of hydration and inactivity can cause muscle tissue to weaken, and blood flow to stagnate. This blood stagnation culminates in waste matter collecting in the feet. This waste matter forms crystalline deposits formed by urate crystals and calcium deposits at key nerve endings located in the feet. Reflexology practitioners call these deposits grainy or sandy structures.
What do the presence of urate crystals and calcium deposits indicate? Just as a river that is clogged with sand and silt fails to flow and feed its many tributaries, the health and balance of your body and its organs are dependent on the nourishment provided by healthy circulation. Lack of the smooth flow of energy due to poor lifestyle habits, trauma, or genetics can result in urate crystals and calcium deposits accumulating at the neurological endings found in the foot. Thus, soreness in the reflex zones of the feet is understood to reflect imbalance in the corresponding organ, gland or structure of the body.
GOAL OF REFLEXOLOGY
Foot reflexology works to dredge your energetic river. By applying pressure to specific neurological reflex zones of the foot using your hands (or preferably someone elses!). Reflexology can flush away the calcium deposits or urate crystals that collect around the foot's nerve endings and cause pain. This pain is not diagnostic of disease; rather, the symptoms of pain are our allies to signal well-being imbalances and the potential for disease development .
Author: Elizabeth Marazita, LAc, Professor of Foot Reflexology & Qi Gong, The University of Washington, Nursing School & Bastyr University, CAM program