Reflexology is a science based on physiological and neurological study which aims to treat the individual as a whole, incorporating body, mind and spirit. It does not isolate a condition or disease treating it symptomatically, but on the whole person with the object of inducing a state of balance and harmony.
The principle of reflexology is that areas, or reflexes on the feet and hand, relate to the internal organs and body parts. The intensity of pressure applied during a treatment may be significant depending on which types of sensory nerve receptors in the skin are stimulated. When the skin is touched, the cells emit an electrical current (an 'actin potential'), and sensory nerves transmit this to the brain, from where it is relayed to local muscles for a response. Using specialised massage techniques on these reflex areas an involuntary response occurs in the organs, glands and body parts causing physiological changes to take place as the body's own healing potential is enhanced.
The aim is to return the body to homeostasis - a state of balance. The first move towards this is through reducing tension and inducing relaxation. When the body is in a relaxed state circulation can flow more easily and supply essential nutrients and oxygen necessary to the body's cell, thus assisting in the normal functioning of the body's organs. Reflexology works on many levels and is a deeply relaxing therapy that both enhances and soothes all systems of the body. A powerful antidote to stress, it can help reduce nerve tension by generating deep relaxation, allowing the body to rest and repair itself.
It is not just a foot 'massage' - it has its own mechanism of action, identifications, contraindications, precautions, effects and reactions. It is a powerful system of healthcare, useful for achieving and maintaining health and enhancing well-being, as well as for relieving symptoms or causes of illness and dis-ease.
Available research evidence supports reflexology as having the potential to help:
Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage (RLD)
RLD was developed through clinical practice, by Sally Kay BSc (Hons), whilst working in cancer care outpatient clinics, using reflexology for patients suffering from all kinds of cancers and at all stages of the disease. It is a technique that isolates and systematically stimulates the lymphatic reflexes of the feet, using a problem specific sequence.
Lymphoedema is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes swelling in the body's tissues, usually in the arms and legs. It develops when there is a problem with the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body, whose main functions include helping fight infection and the draining of excess fluid from the tissues.
Secondary lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system or problems with the movement and drainage of fluid within the system. This may be a result of an infection, injury, cancer treatment, inflammation of the limb, or lack of limb movement.
The RLD treatment is adapted according to the site of secondary lymphedema, and may also be used when treating other conditions including: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, other immune-related illness, Parkinson's Disease, and generalized aches and pains.
*'The effects of reflexology on secondary lymphedema of the arm'. Kay S., Whatley J., Harris P. (2011) Cardiff Metropolitan University
Use of reflexology in managing secondary lymphedema for patients affected by treatments for breast cancer: a feasibility study
Authors: Judith Whatley, Rachael Street, Sally Kay, Phillip Harris
For more information please click here to visit Reflexology Lymph Drainage RLD
emotional as well as physical level
Some available evidence & research for Clinical Reflexology:
Brown, C. A., Lido, C. (2008). Reflexology treatment for patients with lower limb amputations and phantom limb pain - an exploratory pilot study. Complement. Ther. Clin. Pract. 14 (2), 124-131.
Grealish L, Lomasney A, Whiteman B (2000). Foot massage: a nursing intervention to modify the distressing symptoms of pain and nausea in patients hospitalized with cancer. Cancer Nursing 23(3): 237-243
Kirschbaum, C., Wolf, O.T., May, M., Wippich, W., Hellhammer, D.H., 1996. Stess and treatment induced elevation ofcortisol levels associated with impaired declarative memory in healthy adults. Life Sci. 58 (17), 1475-1483.
Mackereth, P.A., Booth, K., Hillier, V.F., Caress, A.L., (2009) Reflexology and progressive muscle relaxation trianing for people with multiple sclerosis: A cross trial. Complement. Ther. Clin. Pract. 15, 14-21.
Oleson T, Flocco W (1993). Randomised controlled study of pre-menstrual symptoms treated with ear, hand and foot reflexology. Obstetrics and Gynaecology, No 82, pp906-911.
Poole, H., Glenn, S., Murphy, P., (2007). A randomised controlled study of reflexology for the management of chronic low back pain. Eur. J. Pain 11, 878-887.
Ross CSK, Hamilton J, MacraenG, Dodherty C, Gould A, Cornbleetn(2002). A pilot study to evaluate the effect of reflexology on mood and symptom rating of advanced cancer patients. Palliative Medicine, 16, pp 544-545
Samuel CA, Ebenezer IS. Exploratory study on the efficacy of reflexology for pain threshold and tolerance using an ice-pain experiment and sham TENS control, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (2013)
Siev-Ner I, Gamus D, Lerner-Geva L, Achiron A (2003). Reflexology treatment relieves symptoms of multiple sclerosis: A randomised controlled study. Multiple Sclerosis,Vol.19, No. 4, pp 356-361
Smith G (2002) A randomized controlled clinical trial of reflexology in breast cancer patients, to reduce further fatigue resulting from radiotherapy to the breast and chest wall. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool, Liverpool.
Stephenson, N.L.N., Weinrich, S.P., (2000). The effects of foot reflexology on anxiety and pain in patients with breast and lung cancer. Oncol. Nurs. Forum 27 (1), 67-72.
Tovey, P., (2002). A single-blind trial of reflexology for irritable bowel syndrome. Br. J. Gen. Pract. 52(474). 19-23.