What is reflexology? What are the benefits ?

15 April 2020

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What is reflexology?

Reflexology is a natural technique which aims to regulate stress and its possible effects on health. By a specific kind of touch on certain areas of the body known as reflex zones, the reflexologist can detect tension and promote regulation of it.

The assumption is that these reflex zones are linked to organs and stimulating them harmonises their function, thus creating homeostasis, which is a state of equilibrium of the main physiological functions. These zones are present in the feet, hands, face and ears. Each reflex zone corresponds to an organ, a gland or part of the body. An informed stimulation of these reflex zones makes the body start a process of optimum re-equilibrium of the corresponding parts of the body. 

Other natural health techniques are based on the same principle : acupuncture, auriculotherapy…

Where does reflexology come from?

While in the West it is seen as a massage technique, reflexology has been practised in China for 5000 years as traditional medicine.

Traces of reflexology have also been found in ancient Egypt. The tomb of Ankhmahor, doctor and vizier to Pharaoh Teti (2323 to 2291 BC), shows the first signs of the use of reflexology. Various medical scenes are represented on his sarcophagus such as childbirth and also foot and hand reflexology. Inscribed on it in hieroglyphics: « "Do me no harm" the other replies "I will do it so you thank me" ».

The discovery of ancient texts leads us to think that the Incas and Native Americans also used these techniques.

The different types of reflexology

There are several types of reflexology according to the various zones of the body.

  • Foot reflexology is by far the most popular. A specific touch can locate tensions and other dysfunctions in the body, and revitalize them. This technique is based on the fact that each part of the human body is represented in a certain area of the foot. The body is divided into longitudinal zones which correspond to 40 bodily organs. Like a hologram, the organs on the left side are represented on the left foot, and likewise for the right side. For example, a part of the heel represents the sciatic nerve and the base of the little toe represents the ear.

Relaxing on a relax chair in a zero gravity position next to a pool

Hand reflexology works with similar zones to the feet, but on the hands. The right hand corresponds to the right side of the body and the left hand to the left side. By stimulating these localised reflex points on the palm by massage, the reflexologist can stimulate different organs.

Facial and cranial reflexology, also called « Dien Chan », is a technique originating from Vietnam. This more recent method uses various instruments to stimulate the facial and cranial reflex zones.

  • Auriculotherapy : In the same way, the reflex zones to be worked on are found on the ears. Various stimulation techniques on these zones allow an action which promotes the functions of the body’s auto-regulation.
  • Sympathico therapy is a very little-used form of reflexology which consists of stimulating the reflex zones located inside the nasal passages with the help of a stylus.


What are the benefits of reflexology?

Frequently used for calming stress and tension, reflexology is a natural treatment first and foremost.

It is a preventative health measure, for well-being or feeling better and a non-medicated way of managing stress with touch

Reflexology is suitable for everyone, from babies to the elderly, pregnant women and sports enthusiasts and sits alongside as a complement to traditional medical care for sick patients. Reflexology forms part of supportive care for cancer patients.

Reflex touch helps to reduce nervous tension, relax the muscles and improve circulation.  It enables true relaxation and a perceptible calmness from the first session onwards.

Relax chair in the zero gravity position to improve relaxation

When practised regularly, Reflexology is an excellent natural technique to keep the body functioning well ; effective for use alongside recovery, it is also recommended to maintain the body’s equilibrium, calming problems linked to anxiety, to fatigue and stress ; and also for sleep, digestion and hormonal system problems…

 Reflexologists work in spaces promoting relaxation on a massage table or a relaxation chair whether this may be in a doctor’s clinic, medical facility or in clients’ homes.


Who practise reflexology?

Reflexologists are trained in reflexology schools. While the discipline is not recognised in France, the qualification of reflexologist was established in 2015 and is registered in the National Directory of Professional Certifications.

Directories have been set up by various reflexologist groups (Federations, syndicate…) Membership of the French Federation of Reflexologists (FFR) guarantees to the general public that a reflexologist is trained, registered, insured and following a strict charter of ethics. The FFR brings together schools and training centres which offer training according to criteria of qualities which certify people able to practise in a professional manner at the end of training.

The practitioner is not a doctor and is not therefore authorised to establish a diagnosis. Sessions are sometimes taken care of by some health insurance companies.