Foot Reflexology works on the principle that there are points on the foot that correspond to every part, gland, and organ in the body. By applying pressure to these points, tension is relieved in a corresponding body part and the body can return to its normal balanced state. The body is seen as a whole integrated connective system similar to the Chinese tradition which sees the body as a network of energy channels. For an interesting website on Chinese medicine, click here.
Some form of this practice has apparently been used from ancient times and in different cultures. The modern revival of reflexology in the west began in the 1920s with the work of American physicians W. Fitzgerald and J.S. Riley. Building on their work, Eunice D. Ingham developed it into a therapy (the Ingham Method) and through her efforts it began to be practiced widely. Brief histories of the topic are given in articles from the International Institute of Reflexology
and on several other websites.
Many countries have national associations that organize activities and set standards of practice. The International Council of Reflexologists
attempts to bring together practitioners from different countries and lists many organizations on its website. At least three countries (China, Denmark and the United Kingdom) recognize reflexology in their national health care systems.
Much of the evidence regarding the effectiveness of this practice is anecdotal but some experimental data are becoming available. Abstracts of research papers can be found, for example, on the website of the Pacific Institute of Reflexology.
A typical treatment session lasts 45 to 60 minutes. The client relaxes while the practitioner takes a history, cleans the feet, warms them up and then applies pressure to the reflex points in a systematic way. To find a reflexologist, or to learn how to become a practitioner, contact your local or national association. Courses in reflexology practice and teaching, with certification through the Reflexology Association of Canada,
are given in Canada and internationally by Wellness Training Services.
The concept of walking on a pebbly surface as a healthful activity has been known for a long time. "Cobblestone paths" exist in public parks in many parts of the world. Examples of these are found in China
and the state of Washington, USA.
Devices such as the mat described on this website do not fully replace a treatment by a qualified practitioner but they have the advantage that they are always available for a self-administered foot massage. These mats are designed to apply pressure to the reflex points as well as to give a general massage to the muscles on the bottoms of the feet.
Reflexologists do not diagnose, prescribe or treat specific conditions. Always consult your medical professional for health related problems.