Reflexology» Find a therapist dealing with Reflexology
Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to and massaging certain areas of the feet. The aim is to encourage a healing effect on other areas of the body, including organs, glands and muscles, and improve general health and wellbeing. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘zone therapy’.
It is based on the principle that certain areas of the feet, called reflexes, are linked to and correspond to other areas on the body. The arrangement of the reflexes has a direct relationship to the area of the body which they affect. For example, the right side of the foot corresponds to the right side of the body, the tips of the toes correspond to the head, the heart and chest are around the ball of the foot, the liver, pancreas and kidney are in the arch of the foot and the lower back and intestines are towards the heel.
Pressure is applied to certain reflexes to heal certain areas of the body, a particular illness or condition, stress, improve overall health, and help promote the body’s own natural healing process. Reflexology helps the body’s natural energy to flow better, identifying and removing any ‘blockages’.
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Reflexology is around five thousand years old, and is believed to have been originally practised by the Chinese and Egyptians. Modern day reflexology was pioneered by Dr William H. Fitzgerald, and Eunice Ingham, who used the ideas of Zone Therapy. This developed the idea of other areas of the body being connected to the feet, eventually mapping out the whole body onto the feet.
Dr William H Fitzgerald divided the body into ‘zones’, and matched up the zones to the reflexes.
In Great Britain, Reflexology was developed and introduced by Doreen Bayly in the early 1960s.
What can reflexology help with?
Reflexology can primarily help with reducing stress associated with various problems, as well as improving the body’s natural energy flow, and healing process.
Reflexology can also be used to help with post-operative recovery or palliative care. For example, some cancer patients may find that the relaxation aspect of the therapy helps with anxiety relief.
What to expect?
Reflexology sessions are fairly straightforward and an uncomplicated process. On your first session you will discuss your medical history with the practitioner first, to establish any underlying health problems and what you wish to gain from the sessions.
You will then be seated in a reclining chair and asked to remove your shoes and socks. The practitioner will then make an initial examination of the feet before beginning to apply pressure with the fingers and thumbs to certain areas.
Reflexology is not painful, however certain areas of the feet may feel more tender than others, depending on what area of the body they correspond with. Sensitivity will vary from person to person, and the practitioner will adjust the amount of pressure applied accordingly.
After a reflexology session your feet will feel warm and you will experience a general feeling of relaxation. Often people can feel sleepy as a result of being so relaxed.
How often and how long?
An average session will last around 45 minutes to an hour. The number of sessions required depends on the condition being treated, but your practitioner will discuss this with you. The relaxing effect of Reflexology will be felt after the first session, but noticing benefits on other parts of the body may take longer.
Misconceptions about Reflexology
Many people think that Reflexology will be ticklish, especially as feet can often be sensitive to tickling. However, the practitioner holds the feet in a firm manner, knowing the right amount of pressure to reply, so it is not at all like being tickled.
Reflexology is suitable for anyone, including all age groups. However, it should be avoided in the first three months of pregnancy, but specific Maternity Reflexology is available.
Whilst Reflexology is a form of massage, it is not simply a massage alone, as specific points on the foot are used and the whole body can be treated. However, people may also use Reflexology as a form of relaxation, rather than treating anything specific, in the way massage is used to relax.
Reflexology is not diagnostic. The practitioner is not able to diagnose conditions or problems, but can sense imbalances in the body’s energy flow.
Whilst predominantly practised on the feet, Reflexology is also only used on the hands, or ears.
What training and qualifications do practitioners need?
Reflexology is just one of the many alternative therapies currently unregulated in the UK. This means that there are no laws which state and detail the qualifications and level of experience someone must have in order to practise as a Reflexologist.
Despite this there are a number of professional associations with whom practitioners can choose to register with and become accredited. Generally each association will have set a benchmark for the minimum level of training needed in order to join and they will also require potential members to agree to adhere to their code of ethics and complaints procedure.
Detailed below is a list of professional associations for reflexology each with their own requirements, standards and various levels of membership. This information is subject to change so for full and up to date details please visit the professional associations websites directly.
The Association of Reflexologists (AoR) is a non-profit making association which aims to provide support to professionally qualified practitioners.
Membership is open to practitioners who have gained an approved qualification or who have provided proof that their training and practical skills meet the standards set by the AoR.
Applicants must either opt to take out insurance cover with the AoR or can provide proof of their own, they must also agree to adhere to the associations code of practice and ethics.
The primary purpose of the International Federation of Reflexologists (I.F.R) is to provide both members and the public with information on reflexology and education providers. The site is a useful resource for anyone who is interested in reflexology treatment and provides detailed information about the latest research developments within the field.
Membership of the I.F.R is open to those who have trained on courses accredited by themselves or to those who have provided proof of a high standard of training and practical skills. All applicants must complete continuing professional development on an annual basis, must agree to comply with the associations code of ethics and practice and must provide proof of their own insurance or can opt to take up insurance with the I.F.R.
The British Reflexology Association (BRA) acts as a representative body for those practicing and studying reflexology as well as helping to promote the practice both here in the UK and abroad.
The official teaching body of The British Reflexology Association is The Bayly School of Reflexology and at the present time only those trained on a Bayly School course may join the BRA.
The BRA have certain rules and standards which members must adhere to and any complaints raised will be resolved by the association themselves.
All content displayed on Therapy Directory is for provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional. Whilst some people have benefited from complementary and alternative therapies, no claims can be made to treat, cure or heal, and we strongly advise individuals with any health problem to seek independent medical advice from their GP before considering complementary or alternative medicine or treatment.Submit feedback on this page