Ok, so I like a good foot massage as much as the next person. And when you add anxiety and general I-have-to-rush-everywhere-and-fight-the-subway-and-sidewalks-every-day wear and tear, my curiosity around reflexology was kind of a given. Sitting… quietly… for 30 minutes while a professional meticulously massages every inch of my feet is basically heaven. What more could I want?
Oh, yep. That.
So, as my search continues for the health and happiness practices that are the perfect cocktail for my body, reflexology was one of the first things I turned to, after a few of the more widely-accepted practices like massage, bawling on the phone to friends, counseling and yoga.
One reason being that there’s this awesome Reflexology shop near my office (Referenced by the shop themselves as both “Yam Foot Spa” and “Yan Foot Spa.” I prefer to call it Yam Foot Spa, because, what.
The second reason I decided to give it a try is because there’s actually a lot of interesting information behind reflexology. Let’s break it down:
“Reflexology, or zone therapy, is an alternative medicine or pseudoscience involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques.”
“Through application of pressure on these reflexes without the use of tools, crèmes or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, Reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.” (wikipedia)
Reflexology touts awesome possibilties like stress reduction, improved circulation, stimulated nerve function, improved immune system and increased energy. More specifically, it can be used to treat migranes, headaches, IBS, back pain, respiratory problems, asthma, and hormonal issues.
“Reflexology is based on the Chinese principle that certain areas on the soles of your feet or hands – known as reflex zones – containing millions of nerve endings, correspond to other parts of the body.
‘Around 3,000 years ago, Asian practitioners were massaging hands and feet applying pressure to certain points to stimulate organs, nerve endings and energy pathways to promote health,'”
An Israeli study of 71 randomised MS patients backs this up. It reported that many patients’ motor, sensory and urinary problems improved after eleven weeks of reflexology.
‘Both reflexology and acupuncture aim to dissolve any blockages causing ill-health by encouraging the free flow of vital energy through the body.’
Whilst acupuncture focuses on points along the Meridians, situated all over the body, and stimulates them with needles, reflexology focuses on the Meridians in the feet and works on them with finger pressures.” (Netdoctor)
Regardless of the scientific specifics of Reflexology, human touch has its own host of benefits for us mentally and physically, not to mention the good feelings from regulated breathing while being relaxed. Skin-to-skin contact can boost our mood, our immune systems and increase the chemical feelings of connection and wellbeing. Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and there’s no doubt that our skin needs attention. There are countless articles on the subject, here are a few excerpts from one of my favorites:
“In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.”
“A review of research, conducted by Tiffany Field, a leader in the field of touch, found that preterm newborns who received just three 15-minute sessions of touch therapy each day for 5-10 days gained 47 percent more weight than premature infants who’d received standard medical treatment.
“There are studies showing that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes. Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassionate response, and a simple touch can trigger release of oxytocin, aka “the love hormone.” (Greater Good)
Boosting circulation, especially to extremities, a soothing distraction from the outside world, a reminder to be present, and generally getting a moment to slow. down. is beneficial no matter how much “hooey” you think comes along with ancient healing practices.
So let’s just go ahead and chat about the elephant that might be in the room here.
Reflexology is considered a pseudoscience: a claim, belief or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. (wikipedia).
Let’s take a break here. Imagine you’re in a doctor’s office. You have an ailment that has elusive symptoms and you’ve been sent for a barrage of tests with no real results. You continue to get vague prescriptions for maladies that parallel one or two of your symptoms, but there’s really not much more your doctor can do for you, except send you to more specialists for more testing. Luckily your doctors tell you that you have no severe afflictions. You’ll have to trust that you’re ok.
Ouch. When we’re left no diagnosis, really all we can do is have trust. If you find a practice, be it reflexology, prayer, meditation, eating your vegetables, not staring at the sun for too long, laughing, whatever. You’re going to have to give life a leap of faith and be encouraged that the things you’re doing for your body are nourishing, healing and progressing you forward on your personal path. I’m going to tell you something, and you’re going to have to believe me. There’s really no other way to live. Every day, for the rest of your life, you’re going to wake up and your path is going to keep on slipping out in front of you. You have to run, walk or crawl your way along but there’s no stopping it. So find your Zen. Find your concoction of things you can believe in and make them work for you. They will evolve. And so will you.
Xoxo & happy healing