Reflexology is a therapy, grounded in medical science, which uses the stimulation of specific "reflex" areas on the hands and feet, that directly affect the related areas and systems within the body, in order to bring about balance and harmony.
However, this is a therapy that encompasses not only the body, but the mind and spirit also.
On a scientific level, the body is an electro-magnetic field, with invisible electrical currents. They cover all the organs, glands, body systems and skeletal/muscular systems. They run through 10 zones on the body in line with the fingers and toes - 5 on each side of the body.
For various reasons, our bodies become "poisoned" through the substances we are exposed to in our food, drink and the air we breathe. We are becoming more and more aware of the affects that pollution, pesticides and other poisons are having on our bodies. The result of this poisoning is that the electrical contacts in this electro-magnetic field are unable to be grounded and this causes crystalline deposits to be formed at the nerve endings. This interferes with the flow of energy around the body. Then of course, when you look at our lifestyles today, and add things such as stress and "fast living", it is no wonder the body starts to react in a negative way.
Therefore, the body's natural balance is lost and this can cause a whole range of symptoms, from feeling a bit "under the weather" or lethargic, to diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and M.E.
From a holistic point of view, which really doesn't differ greatly from the scientific theory, the body is made up of subtle bodies as well as the physical body and these all have energy running through them. If these energies become out of balance, for whatever reason, which can be physical, emotional or psychological, this will create energy blocks which, unless cleared, will manifest ill-health or disease. Even if the blockage starts in one of the subtle bodies and therefore cannot be seen/felt, it will usually manifest in the physical body eventually.
When a Reflexologist works on your feet, they will be able to feel any areas that are causing you problems, or are likely to, as they will be able to feel the crystalline deposits in the reflex areas. They may sometimes be tender to touch as well. Even if there is no physical illness/injury present, there may be an energy blockage in one of the other subtle bodies, and by working this area, it may prevent the problem even manifesting in the physical body. This is why regular treatments are beneficial - you can be pro-active rather than re-active.
Reflexology works by stimulating all of the body's systems. These are:
The Endocrine System (the glands that regulate hormone production in the body)
The Respiratory System
The Digestive System
The Nervous System
The Reproductive System
The Circulatory System
The Skeletal System
The Muscular System
The Lymphatic System
By stimulating the reflex areas on the feet that correspond to parts of these body systems, the crystalline deposits are broken down and the flow of energy restored to normal. Once the flow of energy has been restored in all parts of the body, it should become balanced and healthy. However, this is not something that can be achieved in one treatment. A series of treatments needs to be taken in order to have an affect on an imbalance and then regularly after that to keep the body in balance.
It should be noted though that Reflexology is not a "miracle cure" for anything (and the same goes for all other therapies). It may be that Reflexology is not the best treatment for your particular condition, in which case your therapist will advise you of this (i.e. a muscular problem is obviously best treated with massage). It is also important to remember that if it is not appropriate (that is, it is not the best thing for your higher self) then no amount of healing will have an effect, until it is appropriate. This is where it can be argued that alternative therapies are better than orthodox medicine, as they will only have an affect if it is for your highest good, and pills from the doctor can interfere with the wishes of your being.
There are also many psychological factors in this form of treatment that are of benefit. First and foremost, to actually spend an hour with a therapist whose sole intention is to provide a space for you to relax and promote your well-being makes you feel good about yourself. The fact that you are actually "allowing" yourself this space and have booked this time for yourself, demonstrates that you care about yourself. When we start caring about ourselves, we begin to experience "self-love" and "self-worth". This has a profound affect on our minds and bodies as we are making a statement to the Universe that we care about our bodies and want them to be healthy and balanced. The Universe can then only create this reality, as it only wants for you, what is the highest good for your being.
When you have a therapy of this kind you are also taking responsibility for yourself. So many times you hear people passing the responsibility of not only their health, but their happiness, well-being, careers etc on to other people, such as doctors, parents and employers. Of course this is usually when things are going wrong and it is much easier to blame an outside source.
Essentially, we all have the power of Choice and by taking responsibility for ourselves and choosing what we want, we take the first step to personal empowerment!
Lastly, the benefits of touch, as we all know, are extremely powerful, but sadly in our culture today, is not always "socially correct" and we are all a little inhibited. However, this is a basic human instinct. Babies want to be held and cuddled in order to feel safe, secure, loved and looked after. This need never leaves us, but social conditioning tells us it is not appropriate. Thankfully, these barriers are now starting to come down and other therapies such as massage are losing the stigma that has been attached to them in the past.
When you have a Reflexology treatment it should last about an hour and on your first treatment you should have a thorough consultation which can take between 15 and 30 minutes. It is important that the consultation takes place, as there are contra-indications to Reflexology. For example, thrombosis, heart conditions, early pregnancy, high/low blood pressure and varicose veins are all contra-indicated. This is because Reflexology stimulates all of the body's systems i.e. circulatory, nervous, endocrine etc, and treatment could have an adverse affect on these conditions (e.g. a thrombosis could be moved or blood pressure raised even higher). However, this does not necessarily mean that there is nothing that can be done.
Your therapist may give you a shorter, lighter treatment, or avoid certain reflex areas.
It is also important to remember that all complementary therapies, are exactly that and should complement orthodox medicine. If you are seeing your doctor for a certain condition you should always inform them that you are thinking of seeing a Reflexologist and ask their opinion. There are more and more doctors who are now seeing the benefits of complementary therapies and are even prescribing them on the NHS. If you find that your doctor is completely against complementary therapies and you feel that this is unjustified, get a second opinion from another doctor. Remember, you always have Free Choice, but do listen to the advice you are given and make a balanced decision. Your therapist will also be aware of possible problems associated with any medical conditions and if they feel that a treatment is not appropriate, they will discuss this with you.
A lot of therapists advertise, but the best way is always on someone else's recommendation. If you are unsure, it is always best to contact the therapist and have a chat with them and if possible, meet them. You will know whether or not you feel comfortable with them and ask them to tell you about Reflexology, where they trained, and why they became a therapist. You will then be able to tell if you are on the same wavelength. As long as someone has trained with a reputable school/college then there will be no good or bad therapists, just different ones. It is just a case of finding the one that is right for you.
On average a treatment will cost between £15 and £25 depending on the area (obviously more in London). However, there are therapists who charge more and less than this. Again, this doesn't make them any better or worse. You need to decide what is an appropriate amount for you to pay - by this I don't mean find the cheapest, but again find a therapist you feel comfortable with and then decide whether their charges are appropriate for you. It may be that the cheapest is wholly appropriate, but remember that a living has to be made.
If you are only able to afford a very little, then you may find a therapist who is willing to give discounted rates or may even be able to do a deal with you, where you do something for them, i.e. gardening, ironing, in return for treatments. This can be a very rewarding way of working and both parties get mutual benefit and there has been an exchange of energies involved.