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You've heard of foot reflexology but you don't know exactly what it is and how it works?
Well, the foot reflexology it is nothing more than a type of massage that involves applying a specific pressure to the feet, based on the thought that these parts of the body are connected to certain organs.
In short, reflexologists - that is, the experts who perform this treatment - believe that the application of a particular pressure to the feet can offer a number of health benefits.
But how does it work?
How does reflexology work?
There are several theories about how reflexology works.
For example, reflexology is based on the ancient Chinese belief in qi, or "life energy". According to this belief, qi flows through each person. When a person feels stressed, their body blocks qi, causing imbalances that can lead to illness. Reflexology aims to keep qi flowing through the body, keeping it balanced and free from disease.
In Chinese medicine, different parts of the body correspond to different pressure points on the body. Reflexologists use maps of these points in the feet, hands and ears to determine where to apply pressure, as it is believed that their touch can send energy until it reaches the area that needs healing.
However, this is not the only philosophy of thought that accompanies reflexology. For example, in the 1890s British scientists discovered that nerves connect the skin and internal organs, and they also discovered that the entire nervous system of the body tends to adapt to external factors, including touch.
In short, the touch of a reflexologist can help calm the central nervous system, promote relaxation and other benefits.
Read also: The benefits of the whirlpool
What are the potential benefits of reflexology?
Reflexology is related to many potential benefits, but only some of them have been evaluated in scientific studies.
In short, in this context, we must therefore move with particular caution. In fact, there is limited evidence that reflexology can help reduce stress and anxiety, reduce pain, improve mood and general well-being.
Some people also report that reflexology helped them to:
- strengthen their immune system,
- fight disease,
- overcome colds and bacterial infections,
- contain sinus problems,
- recover from back problems,
- correct hormonal imbalances,
- increase fertility,
- improve digestion,
- relieve the pain of arthritis,
- treat nerve problems and numbness from cancer drugs.
What does the research say?
In reality, as we have already pointed out in the last few lines, there aren't many studies on reflexology. And many experts consider those that exist to be of low quality. Therefore, it is good not to be under the illusion that reflexology can be decisive for various pathological conditions, while it is more possible that it can have some value as a complementary therapy to help reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life of some people.
As for scientific studies on reflexology against pain, in a 2011 study funded by the National Cancer Institute, experts studied how reflexology treatments on 240 women with advanced breast cancer actually achieved an improvement in the quality of life but without any pain relief.
Experts also looked into the effects of reflexology on pain in women with PMS, finding that those who received two months of reflexology treatment reported significantly fewer PMS symptoms than women who did not.
Evidently, larger, in-depth, and long-term studies are needed to fully understand whether or not reflexology helps reduce pain.
More positive are the effects of reflexology on anxiety. In a small 2000 study, researchers looked at the effects of a 30-minute reflexology treatment on people already being treated for breast or lung cancer. Those who received reflexology treatment reported lower levels of anxiety than those who did not receive any reflexology treatment.
In a slightly larger 2014 study, researchers gave people undergoing heart surgery a 20-minute foot reflexology treatment once a day for four days. Again the researchers found that those who received reflexology treatment reported significantly lower levels of anxiety than those who did not.
Is reflexology safe to try?
In general, reflexology is very safe, even for people living in serious health conditions. It is not invasive and it is comfortable to receive so… if you are interested it might be worth a try!
Of course, our suggestion is still to talk to your doctor first, especially if you have health problems such as circulatory problems in the feet, blood clots or inflammation of the leg veins, gout, foot ulcers, fungal infections, thyroid gland, epilepsy, low platelet counts, or other blood problems, which can make bruising and bleeding easier.
Finally, if you are pregnant, be sure to inform your reflexologist before the session, as some pressure points in the feet can induce contractions. If you are trying to use reflexology to induce labor, do it only with the doctor's approval.
We conclude by pointing out that some people also report having mild side effects after reflexology treatment, including lightheadedness and sensitivity. These are short-term side effects that tend to go away shortly after treatment.