Reflexology is an Eastern healing massage method that promotes total-body healing. It’s growing in popularity over recent years, along with similar healing practices like chiropractic therapies, moxibustion, and acupuncture.
If you’ve never experienced reflexology, you might be curious about what to expect. Here, we’ll give you an overview of the practice as well as a few of the benefits you may experience after a session or two.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a form of massage with ancient origins. Unlike a traditional massage that applies pressure to loosen the muscles of your entire body, a reflexology massage focuses on individual pressure points on the ears, feet, and hands.
Those who practice and receive reflexology treatment say that it relieves stress as well as assists our internal organs. You can receive reflexology from a massage therapist, chiropractor, physical therapist, and a few other specialists.
A reflexology practitioner will use a reflexology chart to find foot pressure points and other pressure points throughout the hands and ears. They’ll massage these areas, promoting blood flow and stress relief.
A lot of people think of reflexology as a traditional foot massage. While foot reflexology is a bit part of the practice, it isn’t what makes reflexology so healing and relaxing.
There are a few Eastern healing elements to reflexology. You might not subscribe to these kinds of healing methods, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the benefits of reflexology. Reflexology is relaxing, and at the very least you’ll be able to take a load off of your feet.
Benefits of Reflexology
There are a variety of benefits you might experience after your first – or continued – reflexology treatment. You might not believe some of the claims people make about the full range of benefits, but you’ll be surprised when you notice that it isn’t all in their mind. There are some tangible benefits reflexology provides the body.
Reflexology is an ancient healing technique. It’s survived for so long for a reason – it helps people heal.
Improved circulation is one of the most agreed-upon benefits reflexology provides the body. It makes sense that a massage of some of the furthest areas of our bodies would improve circulation, just as a traditional massage loosens muscles and makes it easier for blood to flow through them.
Many also claim that reflexology will make blood flow more freely through the organs. They will say that reflexology promotes healing by increasing the blood flow throughout the body. This claim doesn’t have too much research on its back, but a lot of people swear by the practice for this reason.
Either way, if you suffer from cold hands and feet on a regular basis, reflexology will likely help you. Poor circulation is one of the reasons people get cold hands and feet. Reflexology massages target these areas and allow blood to flow more freely through them.
Those who experience chronic headaches often turn to reflexology to alleviate the pain. Reflexology can combat all types of pain, but headaches seem to be one of the primary targets of the massage.
Since reflexology reduces stress, it can fight the underlying cause of your headaches or migraines. With regular visits, you will likely see the frequency of your headaches slow or completely stop. One reflexology session will also probably alleviate the pain of a persistent migraine.
Ease Cancer Treatment
No one will claim that reflexology provides the cure for cancer, but it can alleviate some of the problems associated with cancer treatment. Cancer treatment causes a lot of internal damage, as well as the emotional damage that comes along with the possibility of facing death.
Reflexology offers a respite from these worries. It can even help with nausea, digestive issues, and headaches that a lot of people experience when they go through radiation and chemotherapy.
More than anything, reflexology promotes relaxation in those who undergo the process. Going in for a session will benefit your mental state even if you don’t have any particular physical problems you need to be addressed.
You may exit the session and notice that you feel looser and more relaxed. Your problems may feel distant and unimportant, and your mood will improve as a result.
These effects of reflexology also promote healthier and deeper sleep patterns. You will likely wake feeling more rested after a reflexology session, due to the ability of the practice to bring you to a relaxed state.
Stimulating the Nervous System
Our nervous system takes a beating through our daily lives. It might not feel like it, but all of the stress we put our minds and bodies through compounds. We need a release to reset our bodies, and reflexology is one of the options here.
You’ll probably start to notice that your focus is becoming clearer in the days following a reflexology session. The practice is a reset button of sorts, and we need that in our lives now and then.
What to Expect
If you’ve never received a reflexology treatment, you might be a bit nervous. There’s nothing to worry about – especially if you’ve experienced another form of massage or chiropractic treatment in the past. Your practitioner can probably also give you a reflexology massage, so you can receive the procedure from someone you already trust.
The First Steps
When you first enter a facility and ask for a reflexology treatment, the practitioner will ask you a few questions about your medical history. They want to make sure you’re receiving the right treatment and might recommend something else if they think it will benefit you more.
After that, your practitioner will tell you that reflexology should only be used as supplemental treatment and that it isn’t designed to replace any traditional medicine or procedure you might be undergoing. As is the case with some massages and chiropractic sessions, they may ask you to sign a consent form as well.
At this point, you can ask the practitioner any questions you may have about the procedure. They are usually well-versed in reflexology and can give you all the information you need to make you feel comfortable before getting started.
The practitioner will focus on the areas they feel will benefit you the most. If they can, they’ll probably massage your hands, feet, and ears. This isn’t always possible, though, and they might not feel it’s’ the best treatment option for you.
They may spend extra time on your feet, for instance, if you answered some of their questions that make them think it’s the root of your problem. If you have headaches, on the other hand, the practitioner will probably spend more time with your upper-body.
You will almost always lie on your back during the treatment, which gives the practitioner access to all areas of your body. They might wash your feet before assessing them and starting the massage as well.
If you’re ever uncomfortable, or if you think one area needs a bit more work, let the practitioner know. Everyone has different reflexology needs, and the practitioner can’t accurately assess your pain or discomfort without your input. They will probably tell you as much before they start the session.
What It Will Feel Like
People describe the feeling of reflexology in many different ways. Some people claim that they feel a tingling feeling throughout their body, or general a warmth emitting throughout. You might begin to feel the flow of energy through your body, and start to notice the pain and stress you were feeling start to subside.
Pain doesn’t always immediately go away. Unlike a traditional massage, reflexology isn’t working to relieve muscle tension directly. Instead, the practitioner is working to balance your body’s blood flow and internal organs. The result of the practice is a reduction in pain and discomfort, but that might not come until after you’ve finished.
A massage therapist will often give you an indication of why they are focusing on a specific area. They may notice a knot they need to work out, for example. Reflexologists don’t provide the same service and might focus on an area to promote blood flow rather than to relieve immediate tension.
Ending the Session
Your reflexology session will end a bit like a deep meditation session. The reflexologist will gently rub the area they were focusing on, then quietly tell you that they’ve finished working on your hands, feet, and ears.
The treatment usually lasts about a half hour, though you can request longer sessions if you particularly like the feeling of the practice.
You might feel a bit lightheaded or relaxed once the session is over. You don’t have to snap out of it right away. The practitioner will likely give you time to orient yourself, stand up, and put your shoes back on.
Notice how your body feels once the session is over, and stay conscious of it throughout the next day. You should notice changes in your comfort level and mood shortly following a reflexology treatment, as many people do.
If you feel any discomfort that wasn’t there before, make sure you call your reflexology practitioner and let them know. They may even offer you a free session if you didn’t like your first experience with them.
Feature image via breathetherapy.co.uk