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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

Foot Reflexology ~ Balancing the Body, Mind and Spirit

Dec 05, 2015 12:18PM
Experiencing tired, aching feet from ill-fitting shoes or walking and standing too much? Suffering from headaches, migraines, poor circulation and other health issues? The feet, with a network of over 7,000 nerve endings on each, are not simply tools for walking. They transmit motor and sensory information from the outside world to the brain. Foot pain and discomfort reveals more than the fit of your shoes, it’s also a stress signal from glands, organs and other body parts about your health. The feet mirror the entire body with reflex points which, when activated, have a direct effect on the corresponding organ or body system.

Historically, Egyptian relief carvings show foot reflexology being practiced as early as 2330 BCE. Then, using the wisdom of ancient medical traditions in the twentieth century, Dr. William Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, introduced the West to the science of “zone therapy.” Dr. Fitzgerald’s findings determined that application of pressure to one part of the body could create a response in another and a reflex relationship lies within ten longitudinal zones in the human body.

In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist, further refined and developed the study of zone therapy into foot reflexology as we know it today. Ingham’s research with pressure points found the feet to be extremely sensitive and receptive to touch.

In a state of imbalance following illness, injury, disease or stress, the body’s neural pathways may become blocked, preventing the body from functioning properly. It is also believed that many health problems are stress-related. In the practice of foot reflexology, applying pressure to reflexes on each foot (using specific thumb, finger and hand techniques) allows the whole body to relax and de-stress. Sensitive, trained hands often detect tiny deposits, signaling a blockage or problem that exists in the related organ or body part. By stimulating nerve endings, foot reflexology clears neural pathways and triggers the body’s healing response.

The feet also influence the quality of the blood flow that allows oxygen and nutrients to get to the cells. Foot reflexology activates and stimulates circulation because it reproduces natural walking. It gently guides the body toward normal functioning by inducing muscle relaxation, thereby helping the body detoxification process.

Accessing specific reflex points benefits nervous and endocrine systems, encouraging the brain to produce chemical endorphins—the body’s natural pain and stress fighters. Inge Dougans, Director of the International School of Reflexology and Meridian Therapy explains, “foot reflexology’s efficacy lies in reducing stress and abnormal tension by inducing a state of deep relaxation.” A physiological change takes place when the body’s own healing potential becomes activated. Dougans says that often one’s thoughts and actions result in disease. Simply letting go of negativity and taking an active role in well-being “goes a long way toward sustaining a healthy body and mind.” She further compares foot reflexology to a body tune-up taking place on the physiological, psychological, and spiritual level.

Laura Norman, reflexologist and author of Feet First, writes that when the body is relaxed, the nervous system calms down, leaving us more capable of dealing with the demands of daily living or illness. She explains, “Our feet ground us to the earth and the energies that flow through it.” The feet may hold the answers to many unresolved questions about health and life in general. When returned to its natural rhythms, the body, mind, and spirit become balanced.

Christel Haase holds a Ph.D. in Holistic Health and Certification in Reflexology from the International Institute of Reflexology in NYC. She has been practicing foot reflexology for over 11 years.

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