Reflexology is based on the ability to enable healing in one body part or organ (a reflex response) by stimulating specific points on the body. The most common is foot reflexology, where practitioners stimulate the reflex points on the feet to trigger stimulation in a corresponding organ or structure. However, reflexology may also be performed on the hands or ears.
Reflexology concepts appear in several ancient cultures, particularly in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese cultures.
Reflexology was brought to North America in 1913 by Dr. William Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat specialist. He refined the zone therapy theory, where the body is divided into 10 equal zones running along the length of the body.
Each zone is associated with a toe and finger. Manipulating one zone can impact the functioning of the body as a whole. He used pressure on the feet in different zones to affect different parts of the body.
Eunice Ingham, a massage therapist, further refined the technique when he eventually mapped the body onto the surface of the feet. Since then, reflexology maps on the hands and ears have also been developed.
Treatment occurs in two phases. First, a series of work is performed to gently stimulate and balance the whole body. During this process, specific points needing further work are identified.
In the second phase, these specific points are addressed. Many practitioners combine the two, performing general work, but pause and do specific work when active reflex points are found. The reflex points are stimulated using gentle to moderate finger pressure, in a number of different application methods (finger walking, thumb walking, rotating, pivoting, etc.).
Reflexology is a whole-body treatment. Stimulation of the reflex points on the feet, hands, or ears are said to help self-regulate the body and encourage the body to move the organ or structure and its associated energy towards balance or better function.
A level of training that includes every competency component needed to safely and appropriately apply the treatment.
An additional treatment that first requires the practitioners to be trained in an appropriate related discipline.