Reflexology is the application of pressure to areas on the feet, hands and ears. Reflexology is generally relaxing and may be an effective way to alleviate stress. The Reflexology Association of Canada defines reflexology as:
- “A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears and their referral areas within zone related areas, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes without the use of tools, creams 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.”
The theory behind reflexology is that these areas correspond to organs and systems of the body. Proponents believe that pressure applied to these areas affects the organs and benefits the person’s health.
Reflexologists use foot charts to guide them as they apply pressure to specific areas. Sometimes these practitioners use items, such as rubber balls, rubber bands and sticks of wood, to assist in their work. Practitioners of reflexology include chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists, among others.
Several studies funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health indicate that reflexology may reduce pain and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and enhance relaxation and sleep. Studies also show that reflexology may have benefits in palliative care of people with cancer.