[/B] [/U] What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a technique of diagnosing and treating problems in the body by massaging certain parts of the body. It is a form of acupressure, but is performed more so on the feet, hands or ears.
Although not the most interesting thing, I think looking at the history of reflexology will allow one to come to better terms with it.
Reflexology’s history is not fully known, but it definitely has a long history starting in the far past. Most ancient cultures seem to have used a form of reflexology to balance the bodies’ energies and heal others. Some say it first originated in China around 3,000BC, others say it originated in ancient Egypt, around the same time. These two are the most common views although there are others such as being developed in ancient Peru by the Incas. The most known sample of reflexology is in Egypt in the form of artwork, created around 2,300BC.
However, like most things, over time it has changed and modern reflexology is unlike that which the ancient Egyptians or Chinese likely used. Modern reflexology is mainly based on work from two physicians called Dr. William Fitzgerald and Dr. Joe Riley who ‘tampered’ with the idea, and of a physiotherapist called Eunice Ingham who turned the ideas into a workable therapy. Since then it has continued to flourish and has now become a common form of therapy across the world, where it can be studied and an actual degree is required in some places to practice it.
Reflexology relies on the belief that the body is made up of ‘energy pathways’ called meridians. Now there are thought to be 12 main meridians (in the TCM) or 8 main meridians (in the Daoist belief). Truly I don’t think it matters too much, however I prefer the Daoist belief, however since this is more so a TCM ‘technique’ I think it will be more appropriate to use their ideas. Ok, so in Traditional Chinese Medicine there are 12 main meridians in the body (plus two ones corresponding to ‘unrecognized organs’, i.e. conception and governor vessel), these meridians all correspond to different organs and are named accordingly. They are as follows:Small Intestine
•Is a yang meridian.
•This meridian travels from the finger tip to the outside of arms and shoulders, heads towards the nose, then back and ends at the ear.
•The small intestine separates the impure and pure.
•This meridian is associated with the small intestine (big surprise, I’m sure!)Triple Heater
•Is a yang meridian.
•This meridian travels from the finger tip, up the outside of the arm, up the shoulder and neck and ends at the eye.
•The main function of this meridian is protection, it maintains harmony between the heart and lungs, stomach and spleen and bladder, kidney and liver as well as controls the immunity system and metabolism.Large Intestine
•Is a yang meridian.
•This meridian travels from the finger tip up the inside of the arm and shoulder up the middle of the neck and stops at the bottom, where the nose begins.
•This meridian’s main function is inducing vitality and elimination.
•It is associated with the bowels, skin, nose and sinuses.Urinary Bladder
•Is a yang meridian.
•This meridian travels from the outside of the foot, up the inner back of the leg and joins at the bottom of the spine where it goes into the body to connect to the kidneys and bladder, it also continues up the back, over the head and down the forehead and ends at the eyes.
•This meridians main function is purification.
•This meridian is associated with the urinary system, water metabolism, bones and teeth, ears and the spinal column.
•Is a yang meridian.
•This meridian travels on the outsides of the eyes and loops around the head a few times before descending down the back of the head and neck, and then travels down the sides of the body and ends at the 4th toe.
•This meridians main function is body movement and judgment.
•This meridian is associated with the gall bladder and eyes.Stomach
•Is a yang meridian.
•This meridian travels from below the eye, around the cheek and lower mouth, down the front of the body then passes through the diaphragm, enter the stomach and connects with the spleen, then down the leg to end at the second toe.
•This meridians main function is nourishment
•This meridian is associated with the stomach and upper digestive area, mouth and lips and breasts and ovaries.Lung
•Is a yin meridian.
•This meridian travels from the inner shoulder, down the inside of the arm and ends on the right side of the nail in the thumb.
•This meridians main function is vitality, in taking of energy and accepting new influences.
•This meridian is associated with the lungs, nose and skin.Pericardium
•Is a yin meridian.
•This meridian travels from the chest through the pericardium (little ‘bag’ which holds the heart) down the diaphragm to the abdomen. As well as traveling ‘externally’ from the chest, down the arm and finishes at the third finger.
•This meridians main function is circulation and metabolism.
•This meridian is associated with the pericardium, heart, arteries, vein and blood pressure.Heart
•Is a yin meridian.
•This meridian travels from the armpit, down the arm and ends at the pinky finger.
•This meridians main function is awareness and how we interpret our environment.
•This meridian is associated with the heart, tongue, sweat and the central nervous system.Spleen
•Is a yin meridian.
•This meridian travels from the tip of the big toe, up the leg and body then at the chest falls down into the lower armpit area.
•This meridians main function is nurturing, transportation/transformation of energy and reproduction cycles.
•This meridian is associated with digestion, appetite, menstrual cycle and blood control.Liver
•Is a yin meridian.
•This meridian travels from the big toe, up the top of the foot, up the shin area of the leg, then at the knee turns back up the inner leg, continues up the body, head outward towards the edge/beginning of the rib cage then turns back to the middle of the body, ends about halfway up the ribcage.
•This meridians main function is detoxification and harmonizing emotions.
•This meridian is associated with eyes, liver, storage and detoxification of blood and the muscular system.Kidney
•Is a yin meridian.
•This meridian travels from the underneath of the foot, around the ankle up the inner-back of the leg, then up the body, parallel to the conception vessel then near the beginning of the rib cage diverts away from it and finishes at the top of the ribs.
•This meridians main function is willpower and also governs reproduction.
•This meridian is associated with the kidneys, hormones, energy level, water metabolism, ears, bones and teeth and the lower back.
These meridians will be useful if one wants to move on from reflexology to full body acupressure or acupuncture etc. however most reflexologists do not seem to talk a lot about the meridians and instead use the term zones. The body is divided up into ten zones, five on either side of the spine. These cover the whole body and start/end at each finger or toe and relate more or less so to ten meridians of the body.
The energy within the meridians or zones should always be flowing to maintain health, any concentrations or imbalances in any part of the body cause problems (one reason why RadKi can be so devastating to a person’s energetic body, since it relies on concentrating energy and often just moving it about anywhere, even against the normal flow of energy). Different meridians have different ways which the energy should flow. Basically the energy flows from the outside of the feet and legs up the body and down the outside of the arms, while the inside of the arms energy flows up and then down the inside of the body. Anything against this flow slows down the energies speed and the slower it flows the less healthy you are likely to be. So since the body is divide up into zones it makes it easy to tell where to massage for a particular organ etc, for example if we wanted to massage the liver you could follow where it is in the body down to the sole of the foot and it ends up being in zones 5, 4 and 3 of the right foot, since it is a large organ etc.
Along with this, the various meridians also have times when they are more receptive and active, meaning working on those meridians at those times will usually be better, but of course for that you would have to wait all day and massage a different point ever couple of hours, surely not using time well, however I will display each one’s ‘time’ to make this article more complete.
•Liver = 1 a.m.-3 a.m.
•Lung = 3 a.m.-5 a.m.
•Large Intestine = 5 a.m.-7 a.m.
•Stomach = 7 a.m.-9 a.m.
•Spleen = 9 a.m.-11 a.m.
•Heart = 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
•Small Intestine = 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
•Urinary Bladder = 3 p.m.-5 p.m.
•Kidney = 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
•Pericardium = 7 p.m.-9 p.m.
•Triple Heater = 9 p.m.-11 p.m.
•Gall Bladder = 11 p.m.-1 a.m.
Another important basic to know is that the body is made up of polarities, like all things in this world. These polarities being electrical (positive) and magnetic (negative). The right side of the body is electrical and the left side magnetic, except for the top of the foot and back of the hand, then these are reversed. This is mainly looked at when giving the massage depending on what you want to achieve by the massage. Electrical is active and so has a stimulating effect. While magnetic is passive and has a calming, sedative effect. I’ll go over how this can be used in application after. Along with this, the right side of the body represents the past and the left side the future. Therefore, while giving a treatment one is supposedly meant to start with the right foot/hand etc, then move on to the left, since it is believed that many problems may come from traumatic experiences etc in the past and these should be dealt with before true healing can take place and a better future realised.
The energy body of a person usually shows all the problems that a person might physically have. Many illnesses that become apparent in the body are first apparent in the energy body of a person, sometimes quite a while before it actually manifests itself and becomes known to the individual. You can liken the energy body to a coat surrounding the physical body, as a needle comes into contact the first thing it pierces is the coat before it finally reaches the body. Due to this it is possible by using reflexology to determine any near illnesses that the patient might experience and to use the bodies natural healing powers to get rid of it before it has time to manifest itself.
Reflexology works by controlling the flow of energy in the zones. By firmly pressing a point, the energy is stimulated and directs itself to the area that the point corresponds too. Different types of pressure are believed to have different effects on the energy, like using different hands etc. Scientifically speaking, or so specialists say, reflexology is stimulating nerves in the body, some nerves which can be pretty long. Some end up at various organs etc, and so produce an effect when pressure is applied to them. Another belief by some practitioners is that the reflex points, when stimulated lead to a release of endorphins which is why the pain stops. However, I think it is more than a pain relief, but actually ‘cures’ the problem, rather than hide it from view.Uses of Reflexology
There are many uses for reflexology, it is mainly used for relieving pain and treating digestive problems, stress and tension, colds and flu’s, asthma, arthritis etc, etc. As said before it can also be used to predict illnesses that may arise and then prevent it from manifesting. However there are a few things which reflexology is believed to be inappropriate for, these are: diabetes, some heart disorders, thyroid gland disorders, inflammation of the veins. Some also believe it is not suitable for pregnant women to be given a reflexology treatment. Of course, reflexology will not get rid of a problem that requires surgery. Other than those few things, basically every other illness is believed to be able to be overcome by having reflexology, over certain amounts of time etc. Practical ApplicationPreparation
This is where the theory will be put in to use. I will say that although most forms of reflexology are similar in practice, some also have little variations or additions that fit the reflexologists well. I am no exception and before I start saying ‘how to’ give reflexology treatments, I will say that all I know is learned purely from reading and practice, I have not been directly taught applications of reflexology by any person, other than one of my friends mom’s who has showed me a bit, so I’d recommend not taking all this as the ‘only way’ since I learned all I know from one person, reading and practice. Now onto how I believe one should give a reflexology treatment.
The first thing I would recommend the practitioner do is to find a soft brush, if you can and use it to scrub the soles of your feet and palms of your hands, quite vigorously until they turn bright red, do this daily. This does two things, the first of these being lightly stimulating all of the reflexes on your hands and feet, obviously something quite healthful to the body if done frequently enough. The second thing, which is actually the main focus for this is that it removes dead skin cells off the surface of the palms and soles. The soles of the feet and palms of the hand have some important energy centres in them, the soles usually take in energy and the hands release energy. By scrubbing your soles and palms you allow this energy to be taken in/given out much more easily, along with this the pores are able to breath, which means less stress on the lungs and kidneys etc. Since they remove waste as well in the process. This is not so much a reflexology technique as it is a way to get a better, more healthful energy flow through the body, call it a preventive medicine if you will. Someone with ‘higher energy levels’ is much more likely to give a good treatment than one with lower.
Another good thing that I think should be done daily, which only takes about 1-2 minutes is stimulating reflexes that are on your head. There are a lot of reflexes on your head, due to the ‘fact’ that all the zones end at the head. There are basically four ways that one can stimulate the reflexes on their head.
1.This is merely massaging all of the head with a gentle, circular motion, you should press past the skin and to the bone and do it over the whole head, this way takes longer than the other, faster versions.
2.The way is the way I most enjoy, it is simply putting your hand into a fist or use your fingers and gently, but quickly tapping all over the head for about 1 minute or so.
3.This way is also quite a good way, you grab handfuls of hair and lightly pull them.
4.This way is something a lot of people *should* do daily, brushing your hair. Although when brushing you should press just hard enough so that it is felt on your skull.
All of these techniques do different things to the body, although some more similar, 1, 2 and 4 are the most similar. Those three for the most part increase/speed up the flow of energy throughout that part of the body being stimulated. While the 3rd way enlivens the glands and organs in the body more thoroughly.
Do 1 or 2 of these everyday along with the scrubbing and you will over time develop a healthy body and plenty of energy (If you do not do too many other things that are detrimental to this process). I recommend always doing the 3rd one with one of the others.
Along with being used on yourself these could also, perhaps more so the head ‘massage’ be done on a patient at the beginning of the treatment.Massaging Techniques
The first thing one should know when doing reflexology is that you are not working on the skin in the massage, but more so pressing into the bone area, to achieve maximum stimulation of the reflexes. So the pressure should not be light and ticklish but actually quite firm, but relaxing at the same time. Only through practice will one find this right amount of pressure and it varies from person to person.
There are a few different massage ‘techniques’ that I use when giving a treatment, I will give some of them here.
1. Pivoting: The most basic technique is to use your thumb and press onto the reflex/area you want to stimulate, while keeping the pressure even move it in slow circles.
2. The thumb can be rocked, from the tip to the first knuckle below the nail, this is also a form of pivoting and is often used with the above technique. Both the 1st and 2nd technique are useful to relieve pain and tension from an area.
3. Stroking: This is basically stroking an area with two thumbs, causing some light friction, it is often used over the whole sole of the feet and stimulates blood circulation and relaxes, this is usually the first technique used on the whole foot before more direct stimulation.
4.Kneading: This is when one balls the hand into a fist and uses the second joint knuckles of the fingers to apply pressure to the foot. While applying the pressure move the knuckles side to side etc, like you were kneading some dough.
5. Basic Pressure: This is just applying pressure with the thumb tip to a point on the body, for a small amount of time, then it is usually released and repeated several times, depending on why one is using it. If one were doing zone treatment (which will be the first ‘kind’ of treatment I will go over) it would be referred to as finger walking.
The knuckle of the middle or index finger can easily be exchanged for the thumb in the above techniques, although thumb is more preferable the knuckle does its job quite well and is often used if your thumb becomes tired, which after 30 mins plus is quite liable to happen.Identifying Problem Areas
I find strong energetic problems in the bodies of most people, is actually quite common. They are actually quite easy to find, more so if you try looking for some on your own body, in my experience the feet seem to show them better. To go about finding any problem spots all one has to do is use their thumb and gently press all over the foot, looking for any areas that feel different to others, often they may be softer compared to others or quite numb. If doing this on yourself it is even easier because a light pain may become apparent varying depending on the intensity of the problem.Beginning Treatment
All treatments should begin with a fast rubbing of the area being treated, feet for example. Rub with either the hand, or a brush. What this does is, like said before open the pores etc, but it also allows the blood circulation in the foot to increase, as well as the energy, meaning that the treatment will be more effective.
You may also like to start with the basic head techniques given before.
The person receiving the treatment should be as relaxed as possible.Zone Treatment
Zone treatment is the basic overall treatment, this is usually done the first time a person is given a reflexology treatment. It works all the zones equally and while doing so the reflexologists may find any problem areas that may need attention after the zone treatment, or at another session. It is a very simple technique and usually only involves the 5th technique I provided, finger walking.
The first thing is that one should know why the patient (or themselves) wants to have a treatment. Do they/you just want to relax a bit, or do they want to stimulate their energies to achieve better health. If the main concern is relaxation then one should use the left hand when massaging, being as it is magnetic and causes calmness and relaxation, if one wants to stimulate their energies then one should use their right hand being as it is electrical and has stimulating properties.
Once you have chosen what the reason is for the treatment you can begin. Using the hand corresponding to what wants to be done start pinching the top of the big toe on the right foot, or the thumb of the right hand, if working with the hands (remember that the right side of the body should always be treated first, as it relates to the past). This is using a variation often called the C-clamp, as your thumb and finger form a C shape, the finger supports the toe while the thumb applies the pressure. Hold this pressure for about 30 seconds then release it. Now move down the middle of the toe repeating over all areas of the big toe, holding for about 30 seconds then releasing pressure. Maximum attention should be paid to the big toe, I consider it very important in reflexology, as it is where the pituitary, pineal, medulla and hypothalamus are located. Once the big toe is treated move downwards following the 1st zone, use the free hand to support the back of the foot and use the thumb (or knuckle) of the selected hand to apply light pressure. Continue to move down the zone using this 30 second pressure, then release. When you finally arrive at the end of the heel, use the C-clamp in the ‘skin’ area between the big toe and the second toe, again for 30 seconds. Then go to the beginning of the second toe, using the C-clamp, pinch the top of that toe as well and continue downwards. Continue this on the whole of the right foot and then left foot.
While doing the treatment make a note (mental or written) about any areas which feel different to others, or which the patient says hurt. Some like to make the treatment more overall by first using their right hand and then re doing the treatment with their left hand. If one were to do this one would start with the right hand then work the right foot to left foot, then repeat with the left hand. This would firstly stimulate the energies of the patient and then relax them. Others may want to relax the patient first then stimulate the energies, while some others may want to knead the foot at the end of the treatment. All personal choice.
The above treatment should take around 30 minutes-1 hour, if you stick with the 30 seconds and cover every part of the sole on both feet.
I would recommend trying to perform this on yourself at least twice a month, preferably once a week if able to.Reflex Treatment
Treating the reflexes is the most common treatment, being as most patients do go to see a reflexologist to help deal with a certain problem. From the name it is easy to tell what this treatment is. It is basically stimulating specific reflexes on the foot/hand etc, to help relieve a certain problem. There are many reflex point charts on the internet or in books that one can easily find, some have slight variations, however most have the points in around the same area. In my experience I have found that some people do indeed have some differences in where the reflexes seem to be, the one I’ve found best suited, at least for my body is one from a book I read when I first became interested in reflexology, the chart for the hands and feet are provided below. (This chart is not the one I commonly use, I decided, due to some problems I will not scan it and put it up etc. )
When one has chosen what problem one wants to heal, you can look at the above chart (or another that may suit you better) and see what reflex points would most likely be suitable for your problem, if you have a stomach ache, massage the stomach reflex etc.
There are a few reflex points that I believe are very important to massage daily as well as on all patients who come to you, even if they do not actually have ‘much to do’ with the actual problem. These reflex points are:
•First and foremost the endocrine glands (pituitary, pineal, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas and testes/ovaries.) As a note the adrenal gland should not be stimulated too much, for reasons most should know as well as that it is very close to the kidney reflexes and so you may accidentally over-stimulate the kidneys.
•And finally the spinal reflex, obviously the spine being (according to me) one of the most important structures in the body, controlling most of our nervous system, holding us up and being the place where the 7 main charkas are located.Sample Treatment
I will now present a sample treatment, so one may see how one may go about actually giving one for a specific problem etc.
Now let’s say that someone is complaining about breathing problems recently, there are a few things that one should do.
•First and foremost you should ask more precisely what the problem is, where is it, are the sinuses blocked, are you having heart palpitations, etc. etc. All this sets up to make sure one can more properly deal with the problem.
•It is also helpful to know the diet of the patient as well as various medical problems they may have.
•Once one has analyzed exactly what the problem is and how they plan to fix it, they should lie the patient down so that they are comfortable, preferably on a couch, bed etc, perhaps with pillows etc. The whole treatment should be relaxing, I’ve heard of people having patients go to sleep while they massage, this could be due to great relaxation or maybe just due to getting bored of lying down for an hour or so. Personally I haven’t had this experience with anyone so far.
•One may rub their hands together, putting right on left, then rubbing clockwise for 36 times, repeat with left on top of the right hand. This brings energy to the hands to allow healthy energy to flow into the patient (such as why it is important to maintain healthy energy, one does not want to give ‘dirty’ energies to another)
•Once the patient is comfortable one should start rubbing the sole of the foot (assuming your working on the feet) vigorously (though not too much that it causes pain) this allows energy and circulation of blood in that area to increase, preparing for the treatment.
•Then one should go on to treat, now one should go on to treat the ‘most important points, in my view’ first of all. These points can be massaged using basic pressure, which should be applied for about 5-10 secs, released then repeated for a total of 3 times. The top of the big toe should be firmly pinched to activate the brain reflex and the knuckle can be moved slowly up the spine reflex.
•Once that is done the body is ready for the actual treatment of the problem.
-Lets say that after asking for more details we find that the patient’s sinuses are having problems, often becoming blocked, the patient has a history of heart palpitations and when breathing pain is apparent in the left lung.
•So the first thing (after doing all the above) we should do is open the sinuses, since that is the beginning of where the problem is. Now the sinus reflexes are located at the tip of each toe (apart from big), we want to open them, this requires a more active role so we shall use our right hand.
•Form the ‘c-clamp’ with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand and firmly squeeze the tips of each of the toes, starting with the right foot, from the little toe.
•Hold the squeeze on each reflex for about 10 seconds, then release for a few seconds and apply pressure again. One would repeat from about 3-10 times depending on the seriousness of the problem.
•After the sinus reflex points have been appropriately massaged we can move on to the lung problem….since it is basically painful we shall for this one use our left hand instead of our right, it being magnetic and sedative.
•Now since it is the left lung having problems we will work on the left foot. Find the lung reflex and lightly place pressure on it with your left thumb for a period of ten seconds repeating (again like before) a few times depending on seriousness. It is likely that the patient may say it is painful, lighten the pressure a bit and keep working with it, gradually applying more pressure as it becomes less tender/pain lessens. After a good repetitions you can move on (it doesn’t matter if the pain hasn’t subsided in the foot yet)
•Now we shall do some basic pivoting on the lung reflex with the thumb, make slow circles on the reflex, applying a good amount of pressure and gradually working it, as pain lessens etc. This activates small ‘waves’ of energy to pass down the reflex towards the lungs, giving healing energy etc. Stop when you feel it has been done long enough.
•Next one will apply gentle strokes with the left hand thumb to the reflex point, creating a light friction. What this does is allows the lungs to relax, like a massage done on the shoulders often has the relaxing feel, relieving tension etc, so this too will do the same for the left lung.
•Many reflexologists will only work with the area where the problem is, in this case, the left lung. However I would in this case also massage the right lung reflex in a similar manner, due to trying to maintain a balance in the body, since imbalances do tend to lead to health problems etc.
•After that we can move on to the heart reflex, again trying to relax it so we use the left hand, and in this case can basically repeat the above examples again, instead though on the heart reflex.
•Now the problem should have been efficiently treated, although something like this may require more than one treatment.
•The end of the treatment should end with brisk rubbing of the feet.
•It is to be advised to the person receiving the treatment, to not eat for about 2 hours afterwards if possible and that they should go and lay in a warm bath, drink a few glasses of pure water. This is all to help with the removing of toxins from the body.Common Occurrences & Problems
After the treatment the patient may feel queasy, may have a headache, often need to go to the bathroom, in rare cases may even vomit (although vomiting I have not had any experience with). These are nothing to be overly alarmed about, reflexology helps the bodies natural healing powers, it aids the body in removing toxins from itself, of course these toxins have to have a way to get out, which is why someone may go to the bathroom a lot, or get a headache while the toxins try to ‘find’ an escape path etc. This is why I said the patient should have a warm bath, drink water etc. One should only be alarmed if the problem continues for more than a day or two. In some cases such as these it may be likely that one over stimulated a certain reflex.
However reflexology is in most cases very safe and I have had no problems with it yet, over-stimulating a reflex is usually not too much of a problem and should heal itself out after a few days. One thing I will say is if after stimulating a reflex point for a while the pain does not lessen but increases, STOP, you may cause more problems then you fix.
*~*Before the light, comes the dark*~*
(This article is created by me, Kiwi Kid, and thanks goes out to Darkduck for overlooking it.