Updated: Mar 22
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a non-invasive complementary health therapy that can be effective in promoting deep relaxation and wellbeing.
Helping to reduce stress in people’s lives and the impact that stress can have on our health.
Reflexology has been practised for over 5000 years.
The origins of Reflexology date back to around 2330 BC; being practised by the early Indian, Chinese and Egyptian people.
It was then introduced to the West by Dr William Fitzgerald who developed ‘Zone therapy’ in the early 1900s.
He believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.
In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone therapy into what is known as Reflexology.
Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.
Reflexology is now based on the principle that reflex points and zones on the soles, tops, and sides of the feet and ankles correspond to different areas of the body.
In this way, the feet can be seen as a ‘map’ of the body.
By using specific techniques of holds and pressures to specific reflex points – using the thumbs and fingers working these reflex points or areas can help -
and can generally help improve wellbeing; allowing us to cope better with the stresses that life can bring.
Some therapists may also work reflex points on the hands, ears and face; however, it is the feet that are most commonly used in reflexology.
Reflexology is suitable for all ages and may bring relief from a wide range of acute and chronic conditions - Treating the whole person, not just symptoms.
Reflexology does not claim to cure, diagnose or prescribe.
What should I expect?
During your first visit, your therapist will start with a full (confidential) consultation, asking various questions about your health and lifestyle, to ensure reflexology is right for you and what you would like to gain from having Reflexology.
For the treatment you will remain fully clothed, simply removing your shoes and socks.
You’ll then be invited to relax on a reclining chair, massage couch or to put your feet up on a footstool. With your feet and lower legs supported and wrapped in a towel (or similar).
Once you are comfortable, the therapist may then gently wipe your feet before applying a reflexology balm, fine powder or cream to help provide free-flowing movements, and begin by using various massage techniques and gently stretching your feet and ankles to help 'warm up' and relax them / you .
As the treatment progresses, a variety of different reflexology techniques will be used to ‘work’ the reflex points on each foot, including a caterpillar-like movement called ‘thumb walking’.
The areas treated and pressure applied will be adapted to suit your individual needs.
It should be relaxing for you and not painful or uncomfortable.
If there are any areas or reflex points ‘out of balance’ they may feel tender or a ‘gritty’ feeling under the skin – the therapist will adapt the pressure and techniques being used to suit you.
Reflexology sessions generally last from 45 minutes to an hour.
Reflexologists acknowledge that every person is unique and each treatment should be adapted to suit the individual.
The only way to know if Reflexology is right for you is to try it!
Reflexology should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice and always check with your GP/Health Professional if you have any health concerns.
Ali Iles (MAR, MFHT) is a Reflexology & Massage Therapist based in Downend, Bristol BS16.
Offering Complementary Therapies to help bring relief from a wide range of acute and chronic conditions plus providing you with time for relaxation - relieving tension and helping to improve your sense of wellbeing and health.
A full member of ‘The Association of Reflexologists’ (AoR) and ‘Federation of Holistic Therapists’ (FHT) after qualifying in 2005 with the AoR accredited Reflexology Diploma.
The Association of Reflexologist
Delivering Excellence in Reflexology for Highly Qualified Reflexologists and Members of the Public since 1984
Offering the quality mark “MAR” to Full Members, the Association of Reflexologists (AoR) provides professional advice, support and guidance to Reflexologists and members of the public. The AoR was established in 1984 and is an independent and non-profit making organisation supporting members worldwide. Through regular consultation with industry bodies and advisory groups, they do their utmost to maintain high standards of practice within the industry and be at the forefront of expertise for our members.