You might have already heard of Reflexology since it is a very popular type of massage most people opt for. It is used to apply pressure to specific parts of your feet to help you relax and feel better. The entire procedure helps your body perform better, enhance feel-good hormones, and alleviate stress.
It indeed does help to relieve stress because it works much like acupuncture, where it connects the dots from the outside of your body to the inside. Reflexology, also known as zone therapy, is not just for the feet, but can also be done on your hands, ears, and other body areas.
The specific movements on targeted areas significantly help to reduce stress and help you feel more relaxed. If you are on the fence about getting this type of procedure done, perhaps reading about its effectiveness might help bring about more clarity.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a therapy that is based on the theory that certain parts of our body are connected to our organs and body systems. Hence applying pressure to these areas will ease the pressure and relieve stress in your body. All in all, it is believed to provide a plethora of benefits that will enable you to live a better and more relaxing life.
People who perform this therapy are known as reflexologists, but physical therapists and chiropractors can also offer it. While these reflexologists may use their hands to target parts of your body, Reflexology is not entirely considered a massage. It is actually a therapy that should be used alongside medical and traditional forms of treatment.
Moreover, it should also be noted that reflexologists don’t diagnose or treat an illness either. They simply use their techniques to ease the pressure, speed up healing, reduce pain, alleviate stress, and help you feel better. Considering that it is a non-invasive and low-risk procedure, it is an excellent option for those looking to relax, reduce stress, and enhance their sleep.
How does it Work?
There are multiple theories that explain how Reflexology for stress works, but none of them have been scientifically proven. This is largely because this is still a novel form of therapy. However, here’s a look at all the different ways Reflexology can work for you to relieve stress:
- Chinese Medicine and Energy Flow
There is a widely popular concept of energy flow in Chinese medicine, also known as ‘qi’ or ‘vital energy.’ According to the theory, everyone has this energy flow in their bodies. When a person is feeling anxious or stressed out, their body automatically blocks this energy flow in their bodies.
When qi is blocked in your body, it can lead to an imbalance in the body, which may also result in illnesses and diseases. This is why Reflexology can be greatly beneficial since it aims to restore the energy flow imbalance in your body. It also breaks down these blocks. Otherwise, for maintenance, Reflexology ensures that the energy flow stays in balance and reduces your risk of illnesses.
In Chinese medicine, various parts of our body connect with different pressure points. Reflexologists use a map of these pressure points to guide them and determine where to put pressure.
- Zone Therapy
As the name suggests, zone therapy involves different areas of the hand and feet being divided into various zones. Each of these zones is believed to match up with the entire body. Hence, Reflexology involves working in these zones to help improve various parts of the body. For example, the theory believes that applying pressure on one part of the body will have a positive effect, such as relieving pain, on the related body part.
- Touch and the Nervous System
Another very old theory, dating back to the 19th century, which is used to explain how reflexology works, is through the one that relates to touch and the nervous system. The idea behind this theory is that our skin is connected to all of our organs. Hence, the body then adjusts to outside factors like touch.
It states that applying soft pressure on various areas of the body, such as feet and hands, has a positive calming effect on our nervous system. In other words, pressing on the feet sends nerve signals to the nervous system to relax. Hence, this is how one relieves stress and feels better after a reflexology session.
This also leads to an increased supply of blood all over the body, which helps the organs perform at optimum functions. The reflexologist’s touch and movements signal the body to release tension. In the end, this positively affects the respiratory, immune, and circulatory functions of the body.
There are some theories that explain how the brain creates pain as a unique experience that is different for every kind of stressor. Hence, you may experience a lot of pain in some cases and not at all in others. However, it may create pain through emotional and mental distress in some cases. There are thus different ways that the brain registers pain.
For that reason, Reflexology can reduce any kind of pain by providing a calming touch. This, in turn, will relieve stress, make one relaxed, and improve their mood. All of this will make you less inclined to experience pain as deeply.
What Are the Benefits of Reflexology?
There are many benefits that are linked to Reflexology. However, most of them have not been scientifically proven. Regardless, it is believed that those individuals with a pre-existing medical condition would greatly benefit from this form of therapy.
For example, people who experience chronic pain in various areas of their body can benefit from Reflexology because it can help you perceive pain differently and feel calmer. Moreover, for people with no medical condition, Reflexology can help them feel more energized and not stressed.
The greatest benefit of Reflexology is that it alleviates stress, both physically and mentally. After just one session of Reflexology, you will feel much better, and your body will no longer be tensed. It boosts their good feelings and well-being and makes it easier for them to manage stress in their everyday lives.
While more research is yet to be conducted on the benefits of Reflexology in specific conditions, it is still believed that this form of therapy can help manage systems and work well alongside other treatment plans. In specific, Reflexology can help those individuals suffering from depression and anxiety. It can also help people with arthritis pain if used in conjunction with medication and physical therapy.
Moreover, Reflexology is also an excellent therapy to take up for individuals who are suffering from terminal illnesses, such as cancer. It can help alleviate their stress and make them feel better emotionally. Lastly, it may also help with lower back pain or pain during labor.
Does Reflexology for Stress Really Work?
While there is no conclusive research that Reflexology can treat a medical condition, it can certainly help manage stress. It is also a great option for people to incorporate it into their overall treatment plan because it can help manage emotional symptoms of stress and aid in relaxation.
For example, one study was conducted on people with terminal illnesses like breast and lung cancer and how Reflexology can work for them in conjunction with other forms of treatment. The research showed that those individuals who received sessions of Reflexology considerably showed less anxiety and stress than those who did not receive this treatment.
Similarly, there was also another research that was conducted on people who were about to undergo heart surgery. Those individuals who received a session of Reflexology every day experienced less anxiety and stress right before going under their surgical procedure.
Therefore, both of these researches show that while Reflexology might not be effective in treating a medical or mental condition on its own, it can certainly help manage its symptoms. In particular, it can help manage and alleviate stress. People who have pre-existing medical conditions should thus certainly give this form of therapy a try.
In addition to that, people suffering from daily stress in their lives from everyday tasks may also benefit from receiving reflexology sessions. Indeed, a touch from another individual, especially in areas like hands and feet, can have a considerable positive impact and make one feel cared for, relaxed, and less stressed.
All in all, Reflexology may not entirely be a scientifically proven treatment. However, it is certainly one that everyone should try if they want to feel less stressed in their lives. It is suggested that Reflexology may be used as a complementary treatment for people with serious medical conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Physical therapists or trained massage therapists often offer Reflexology at spas and massage parlors. It is important to note that Reflexology will not heal your body and treat your condition, but it will help you on your road to recovery. It will make you feel less tense, stressed, and anxious.