Reflexology in the New Millennium
by Roxanne Wayland
A well-known pictograph found in the tomb of an Egyptian
physician, illustrating foot and hand work being performed
on two (lucky) recipients, is thought to be the first documentation
of reflexology. According to some researchers this ancient
natural healing art form has persevered 5,000 years or more.
In this new age of sophisticated technology and quantum physics
we are now coming full circle with likely explanations for
our ancestors’ equally sophisticated wisdom and intuition.
What is reflexology? I will recap for those as yet unfamiliar.
The Reflexology Association of Canada (RAC) states reflexology
is based on the principal that there are zones and reflexes
in the feet, hands, and ears that correspond to every part,
gland, and organ, of the body. Most popular has been foot
reflexology—as the feet provide the largest holistic
representation of the body, giving easy access to more than
7,000 nerve endings on each foot. Through application of
pressure, stretch, and movement, reflexology relieves tension
and helps to promote the natural function of the related
areas of the body. A reflexology treatment improves the body’s
circulation of both blood and lymph, aiding in elimination
of excess wastes. It also enhances nerve and immune function,
helping to maintain or reestablish homeostasis (balance.)
It is conventional thought that reflexology’s rhythmic
thumb technique serves to distract the peripheral nervous
system from patterns of stress to facilitate movement away
from the sympathetic state (fight and flight) towards the
parasympathetic (rest and repair). It has been suggested
this rhythmic stimulation disrupts the pain pathways, impeding
pain impulses from making their normal ascent to the central
nervous system (CNS). Throughout this stimulation released
endorphins activate the many opiate receptors along the CNS
pathways to further inhibit transmission of pain. Occasional
nerve awakenings and myofascial shifts can occur during this
deep relaxation of the body. These are some of the processes
that may account for the commonly expressed feelings of being
more centred (or grounded), energized, cleared of sinus congestion,
flexible, as well as relieved of pain. “Walking on
air” is a refrain many people use to describe the sensations
resulting from changes to the body’s balance mechanisms
Dr. Richard Gerber’s landmark book, Vibrational
sheds new light on the meridian system and perhaps reflexology’s
Zone theory, as well. Dr. Gerber states man’s biological
interconnection with the higher frequency energies takes
place through the meridian system, interfaced with human
form’s grid of magnetic domains. These domains move
between the primary blueprint of the “overself” and
the pattern angles of the human organs—a process known
as the axial relationship. The lines that tie together these
magnetic domains are known as axiatonal lines. Reflexology’s
foot map, representing the body with its delineated zones,
seems to align with these concepts and also ties in with
the holographic model of the universe (each part containing
the pattern for the whole). Dr. Gerber also states the meridians use the passageway between the nervous and circulatory systems
to feed the life force into the body extending almost directly
to the molecular level. Consequently anything that influences
one of these systems would have an impact on the others.
To further enhance a session reflexologists can use acupressure
on select points of the meridians—an addition to the
meridian points that overlap with reflex points.
Oriental medicine embraces both acupuncture and reflexology.
Reflexology, being the more hands-on of the two, lends itself
to the healing intent of the practitioner. Gifted healers’ energies
have been likened to powerful magnetic fields, capable of
influencing the recipient’s innate healing mechanism.
In many cultures fluttering or rhythmic motions are associated
with trance, serving healers to connect to something greater
than themselves. Interestingly, axiatonal lines have terrestrial
and celestial counterparts that result in resonant frequencies.
The primary resonance carries the same rhythmic frequency
range as those associated with deep relaxation and meditation.
The healer, and in turn recipient, may synchronize with similar
frequency—enabling order to be restored within the
body’s magnetic domains. Experiments in high energy
particle physics have shown that at the particle level all
matter is really energy. If we are beings of energy, then
it follows that we can be affected by energy. Reflexology
evolves within this new paradigm with newly defined forms—Chi
Reflexology, Reflexology with Aromatherapy, Colour Reflexology,
Reflexology with Reiki, Healing Touch, Chakra Toning, etc.
Brief summaries of some of these modalities are included
with the booklists provided by Reflexology
World, a magazine
As Reflexology gains wider acceptance as a therapy, its
effectiveness for specific conditions is being researched.
is a growing body of evidence confirming extensive therapeutic
value beyond the realms of mere relaxation and stress management.
Denmark and China have been leaders in research. A 1996 report
in China found foot reflexology to be 93 percent effective
in treating 63 disorders—notably, back pain, migraine,
infertility, hormonal imbalance, digestive disorders, stress-related
illness, sports injuries, sleep disorders, and arthritis.
Reflexology was also assessed as a valuable application for
diabetes and nervous system/sensory disorders. More specific
details on this study are available at www.reflexology-research.com/medapp.htm
under Medical Applications of Reflexology/Findings in research
about safety, efficacy, mechanism of action, and cost effectiveness.
Another study that has received much press recently is, The
Cobblestone Walking Project, conducted by the Oregon Research
Institute. This study examined the effects of cobblestone
mat walking on adults aged 60 to 88. Mat walking entailed
three 45-minute sessions per week over eight weeks. Results
indicated significant improvements in health-related outcomes
in older adults. The paper by Li, Harmer, Wilson, and Fisher
can be found in the Journal
of Aging and Physical Activity (2003,11,487-501)
and the website, http://healthyaging.ori.org/cobblestone/cobblestone.html,
will provide details and helpful information for interested
seniors and care facilities. Cobblestone mat walking is rooted
in traditional Chinese holistic medicine.
Most intriguing are the barefoot parks and reflexology
paths, popular in many European countries. As these potentially
health-enhancing experiences have not yet materialized in
Saskatchewan you can experiment with one of the many reflexology
rollers that are available, or you can try rolling your feet
on a couple of golf balls tied securely in a sock. Better
yet, you can enjoy the most beneficial experience by receiving
professional treatment from an RAC certified reflexologist.
I have found this local group of inspired reflexologists
to be passionately committed and well suited for this type
of healing work. They possess attributes that surely served
them well in meeting RAC’s high qualifying standard
for professional practice. Once certified, most practitioners
add their own intuitive signature to the simple but complex
reflexology experience. Equipped with highly skilled hands,
and fingers that “see”, practitioners enter a
learning curve often open to universal energy (source).
According to the Reflexology Association of Canada’s
scope of practice, reflexology does not diagnose, prescribe,
or treat for specific conditions. For further details visit
www.reflexologycanada.ca. The written views and opinions
in this article are not endorsed by and do not necessarily
reflect those of the Reflexology Association of Canada or
its board of directors.
Roxanne Wayland, certified foot
reflexologist, uses therapeutic grade essential oils, chi
and an extensive nutritional background in her work. She
also works in conjunction with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist
(RHN) when more concentrated nutritional counselling is indicated
and desired. Vitaflex “Raindrop Therapy” is offered,
as well. Roxanne can be reached in Saskatoon at (306) 477-2708.