Author Julie Casper, L. Ac., is a hTMA clinician and educator, she works with patients across the U.S. and internationally. In addition, she supports health professionals who are interested in adding clinical hTMA to their practice. Contact: healthelite.org

Reflexology (foot massage)

Reflexology is a focused pressure technique, usually directed at the feet or hands. It is based on the premise that there are zones and reflexes on different parts of the body which corresponds to and are relative to all parts, glands and organs of the entire body.

What is Reflexology?

rocks shaped like feet

How Does Reflexology Work?

When the reflexes are stimulated, the body's natural electrical energy works along the nervous system to clear any blockages in the corresponding zones. A reflexology session seems to break up deposits (felt as a sandy or gritty area under the skin) which may interfere with this natural flow of the body's energy.

Manipulating specific reflexes removes stress, activating a parasympathetic response in the body to enable the disharmonies to be released by a physiological change in the body. With stress removed and circulation improved, the body is allowed to return to a state of homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the automatic process that the body incorporates to bring it back to the ‘normal’ state. For example, if the blood pressure is abnormal, the kidneys will secrete the enzyme renin which is involved with blood pressure, and the hormone, erythropoietin that increases the rate of red blood cell production.

The University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing

Free Online Learning - Reflexology course, by Karen Teagarden, BA, NBCR (ARCB). This module provides an introduction to the use of reflexology in healthcare. It will take approximately 2 hours to complete. (You don't have to do it all at once.)

What you will learn

Resources
Websites
Books
  • Byers, DC. (2001). Better Health through Foot Reflexology (10th edition). St. Petersburg, FL: Ingham.
  • Crane, B. (1997). Reflexology: The Definitive Practitioner's Manual. MA: Element Books, Inc. The Definitive Practitioner's Manual.
  • Gillanders, A. (1996). The Joy of Reflexology: Healing Techniques for the Hands and Feet to Reduce Stress and Reclaims Life. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co.
  • Kolster, B. (2000). Foot Reflexology with Video. Cologne, Germany: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft.
  • Kolster, B and Waskowiak, A. (2006). The Reflexology Atlas. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
  • Kunz, K and Kunz, B. (1993). The Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology, Revised Edition. Albuquerque, NM; Reflexology Research Project.
  • Kunz, B. and Kunz, K. (2006). Hand Reflexology. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.
  • Muller, M-F. (2006). Facial Reflexology: A Self-Care Manual. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company.
  • Segers, J. (2007). Reflexology for Cats. Auckland, New Zealand: David Bateman Ltd.
  • Tibshraeny-Morten, L. (2008). Moving the Energy: Reflexology and Meridian Therapy. Seminole, FL: JLM Publishing Incorporated.
  • Vennells, D. (2001) Reflexology for Beginners: Healing Through Foot Massage of Pressure Points. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
  • Voner, V. (2003). The Everything Reflexology Book. Cincinnati, OH: Adams Media Corporation.
Articles
  • Brendstrup, E & Launse, L. (1997). Headache and Reflexological Treatment. The Council Concerning Alternative Treatment, The National Board of Health, Denmark.
  • Choudhary, S., Kumar, G., & Singh, K. (Spring 2006). Reflexology Association of America: Reflexology reduces the requirement and quantity of pain killers after general surgery
  • Choudhary, S. & Singh, T. (n.d.). Reflexology Association of America: Efficacy of reflexology in prevention of post-operative nausea vomiting
  • Eriksen, L. (1992). Municipal Reflexology. Zoneterapeuten (Journal of the Danish Reflexologists Association, FDZ), 6.
  • Eriksen, L., & Levin, S. (1995). A Closeup View on Company Reflexology (Committee Report): Danish Reflexologists Association.
  • Enersen, O. D. (1994-2007). Head's Zones. Who Named It?
  • Ernst, E., Posadzki, P., & Lee, M. (2011). Reflexology: An update of a systematic review of randomised clinical trial Maturitas 68, 116-120.
  • Frankel, B.S.M. (1997). The effect of reflexology on baroreceptor reflex sensitivity, blood pressure and sinus arrhythmia, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 5, 80-84.
  • Reflexology: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Gordon, J., Alder, E., Matthews-Smith, G., Hendry, I., & Wilson, D.(November 2010). The effectiveness of reflexology as an adjunct to treatment in childhood idiopathic constipation: A single line randomised controlled trial (The SOCC Project). Paper presented by Amy Kreydin at the Reflexology Associaton of Canada Conference, Winnipeg, British Columbia.
  • Healey, D, et al. (2002). Nasal Irrigation for the Alleviation of Sinonasal Symptoms. Presented Sept 25 at the American Academy of Otolaryngology.
  • History of Reflexology. American Academy of Reflexology.
  • Hodgson, H. (2000). Does reflexology impact on cancer patients' quality of life?" Nursing Standard, 14(31), 33-38.
  • Kim, J-I., Lee, M., Kang, J., Choi, D., & Ernst, E. (2010). Reflexology for the symptomatic treatment of breast cancer: A systematic review. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 9.326-330. doi: 10.1177/1534735410387423.
  • Kim M.S. et al. (2001). Effects of hand massage on anxiety in cataract surgery using local anesthesia. J Cataract Refract Surg, 27(6):884-90. Kristese, K., Moller, E., & Rasmussen, I. (1996). Reflexology as Personel Care in the Arthus District Corporation: Take Good Care of Your Fellow Employees. Zoneterapeuten (Journal of the Danish Reflexologists Association, FDZ), 1.
  • Kunz, B. & Kunz, K. (2008). Evidence-Based Reflexology for Health Professionals and Researchers: The Reflexology Research Series.
  • Madsen, S., & Andersen, J. (1993). Postal Reflexology (Committee Report): Odense Danish Reflexologists Association Research Committee Report.
  • Manzanares, J. (September 2007). The science behind reflexology deposits Paper presented at the International Council of Reflexologists, Anaheim, California. Retrieved from Reflexology Association of America.
  • Milligan, M. et al. (2002). Int J. Oalliat Nurs, 8(10), 489-96.
  • Oleson, T & Flocco, W. (1993). Randomized controlled study of premenstrual symptoms treated with ear, hand, and foot reflexology. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 82(6), 906-11.
  • Piquemal, M. (September 2005). Global effect of reflexology on blood flow Paper presented at the International Council of Reflexologists, Amsterdam and summarized by Christine Issel for the ICR Newsletter (Vol. 15, No. 1, March 2006, pp 18-19), reprinted at the Reflexology Association of America.
  • Rahbar, M., Wyatt, G., Sikorskii, A., Victorson, D., & Ardjomand-Hessabi, M. (2011, in press). Coordination and management of multisite complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies: Experience from a multisite reflexology intervention trial, Contemporary Clinical Trials. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2011.05.015.
  • Sikorskii, A., Wyatt, G., Victorson, D., Faulkner, G., & Rahbar, M. (2009). Methodological issues in trials of complementary and alternative medicine interventions, Nursing Research 58(6), 444-451. Retrieved from http://www.nursing-research-editor.com.
  • Stephenson, N.L. et al. (2000). The effects of foot reflexology on anxiety and pain in patients with breast and lung cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 27(1), 67-72.
  • Sudmeier, I., et al. (1999). Anderund der nierendurchblutung durch organassozilerte reflexzontherapie am fuss gemussen mit farbkodierter Doppler-sonograhpie. Universitatsklinik fur Innere Medizin, Inssbruk, Austria. Forsch Komplementarmed, 6(3), 129-34.
  • Terp, H. (1995). Municipal Reflexology in Svendborg, A study of the Effect of Reflexology Treatment in the Eastern District of the Municiaplity of Svendborg, Denmark (Committee Report): Danish Reflexologists Association.
  • Testa, G.W. (2000). A study on the effects of reflexology on migraine headaches
  • Ying, Ma. (1998). Clinical observation demonstrated the influence upon arterial blood flow in the lower limbs of 20 cases with type II diabetes mellitus treated by foot reflexology. China Reflexology Symposium Report, China Reflexology Association, Beijing, 97-99.
  • Weil, A. (January, 2002). The Saline Solution? Self Healing, p 2.
  • Williamson et al (2002). Randomised controlled trial of reflexology for menopausal symptoms. BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 109 (9) p 1050-1055.
  • Wyatt, G., Sikorskii, A., Bush, R., & Mukherjee, R. (2010). Team science of nursing, engineering, statistics, and practitioner in the development of a robotic reflexology device, Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, 8(1),14-19. doi: 10.2310/7200.2009.0017
  • Wyatt, G., Sikorskii, A., Rahbar, M., Victorson, D., & Adams, L. (2010). Intervention Fidelity: Aspects of complementary and alternative medicine research, Cancer Nursing, 33(5), 331-342. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181d0b4b7
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