Reflexology is a type of therapy that uses gentle pressure on specific points along your feet to help you feel better. The theory is that this eases stress, and that helps your body work better. It’s also known as zone therapy. The way reflexology connects spots on the outside of your body to the inside is a bit like acupuncture and acupressure. And while reflexologists do use their hands, it isn’t a form of massage.
Like those other therapies, though, reflexology is complementary to medical treatments. It can be done alongside traditional care, but it’s not an alternative to it, and reflexologists don’t diagnose or treat illnesses.
Reflexology may help you feel less stressed, more relaxed, and more energized. But the benefits might go deeper if you have certain health issues.
Some people with medical conditions find that they feel less pain and discomfort if they have less stress, and reflexology may help with that. Researchers reviewed 17 studies of the psychological benefits of the therapy and found that it boosted feelings of well-being and made it easier for people to manage their conditions.
More research is needed to see if reflexology can have a direct effect on specific conditions, but based on what we know so far, it may ease:
Pain during labor
Emotional and physical pain caused by cancer
It may also help:
Improve sinus issues
Relieve back pain
What You Can Expect During a Reflexology Session
To get to know you and make sure that reflexology is right for you, the therapist will start by asking questions about your health, what you eat, your lifestyle, and any conditions you have. This is also the time to ask any questions you have.
You will lie down on a massage table. You’ll keep your clothes on, but wear something comfortable so you can better relax.
Many reflexologists will begin by gently smoothing oil or cream on your feet. Next, they’ll put mild to moderate pressure on one foot at a time using different techniques. They might return to certain pressure points a second time, but they'll cover the entire area during the session, not just the points connected to any trouble spots you might have.
Sessions are usually 30 or 60 minutes long. At some point, you might feel so relaxed that you fall asleep, or you could feel a rush of emotions as energy moves through your body. Afterward, you could feel energized or have a sense of calm.
You might have a reflexology session only occasionally, as a regular “tune-up,” or every week for a set period of time if you’re using it to help with a condition. You might also ask your reflexologist for tips on how to do it yourself between visits. You can get special socks that have a map of all the pressure points to use as a guide.