Foot reflexology, or otherwise commonly known as foot massage, aims to prevent or treat health conditions through the application of finger pressure to specific points on the feet. The underlying idea of reflexology is that certain areas of the feet correspond to certain parts of the body, and by stimulating those areas; you can heal and detoxify that corresponding part of the body.
Reflexology and many similar foot treatments have been used for thousands of years in places like China, Thailand, India and Egypt. It wasn’t until the early 20th century, when an American physician named William Fitzgerald suggested that the foot be “mapped” to other areas of the body to diagnose and treat medical conditions. This process was originally called zone therapy. He strategically divided the body into 10 zones, each zone representing a different organ or body system. He then proposed that constant and regular pressure on a particular area of the foot could relieve pain, tension and promote healing as “reflexed” in the targeted zone.
In the 1930s, a nurse and physiotherapist named Eunice Ingham, further developed these maps to include specific reflex points. It was at that time that zone therapy was renamed reflexology and the name has stuck ever since. Modern reflexology charts include pictures of the feet with diagrams of corresponding internal organs or parts of the body. The right side of the body is represented in the right foot, and the left side, in the left foot. Reflexology is used by a vast array of health care providers today, such as massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, physical therapists and even nurse practitioners.
The theories behind reflexology have not been proven. However case studies do produce convincing evidence that the therapy is effective. One theory, begun by the ancient Chinese, is that the body contains an invisible life force(chi), or energy field, represented by meridian points in different parts of the body, that when blocked, result in sickness, pain or ill-feeling. The Chinese believe that suitable stimulation of the foot and meridian points can unblock and increase the flow of vital energy to various parts of the body, which promotes healing.
Modern doctors, who have studied the Chinese body meridian principles, put forward scientific theories that traditional treatments such as reflexology, massage and acupuncture causes the release of endorphins, which are natural pain killers produced by the body, stimulation of nerve circuits in the body, and the promotion of lymphatic flow or the dissolving of uric acid crystals leads to pain relief and curing of certain pain and illnesses.
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