Foot reflexology is an alternative therapy that involves massaging the feet using the hand, finger or thumb to put pressure on certain reflex points. It is based on the idea that internal organs, bones, and body systems can be affected in a beneficial way by applying pressure to the points on the feet, ears, or hands.
Foot reflexology has been practiced for thousands of years and professional practitioners are relatively commonplace in the Western world. However, you can also try foot reflexology at home; it is safe and can come with a whole host of health benefits. We've listed ten of them below.
1) Relieve arthritis. Doctor's Health Press Foot explains that reflexology has been used in treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which affects over 50 million people in America. A clinical study in 2013 showed that reflexology may actually be as effective as painkillers in relieving the pain associated with osteoarthritis, with patients feeling approximately 40% less pain.
2) Nausea and pain relief. A study in Australia treated cancer patients with foot reflexology to reduce nausea and pain, according to Healthy Living. The study found there was an instant positive effect on the patients' feelings of nausea, pain and relaxation.
3) Speed up healing. According to Organic Facts, the combination of increased nerve activity and circulation that reflexology encourages means that cells regenerate faster and wounds are quicker to heal.
4) Hypertension. Doctor's Health Press cites a 2004 study which found that foot reflexology effectively reduced systolic blood pressure when performed twice weekly over a six week period.
5) Migraine and tension headaches. Foot reflexology massage has been proven in a clinical trial to be as effective as a common headache drug called flunarizine, according to Natural Living Ideas.
6) Healthier Feet. Your body will thank you for the foot massage, and so will your feet! Healthy Living explains that massage stimulates your muscles and relieves stiffness and tension. Foot massagers and rollers are relatively inexpensive and can be a great tool for giving yourself a foot massage, particularly because they remove the need to bend down.
7) Anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are common mental health problems, and reflexology has been shown to decrease both when practiced correctly. Top 10 Home Remedies cites a study which showed foot massage to be particularly effective in treating these issues for post-menopausal women.
8) Improve circulation. Natural Living Ideas explains that reflexology and general foot massage are great for improving healthy circulation in the feet and throughout the body. Our blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to our vital organs and nourishes our body tissues. Try giving yourself a foot massage before bed every night.
9) Manage fatigue and stress. Healthy Living cites a study which showed that foot massage and reflexology are effective in reducing both stress and fatigue in middle-aged females. Massages feel great, too, so it's no wonder!
10) Relieve PMS symptoms. Ladies, we've all been there. Sadness, irritability, anxiety, tension, headaches... Half of all women experience pain during the menstrual cycle. But according to Natural Living Ideas, foot reflexology can actually be as effective as ibuprofen when it comes to relieving these symptoms!
Foot reflexology is an ancient and complex treatment that takes a lifetime to master, but that doesn't mean that you can't perform a basic foot massage yourself at home. Different sections of the feet relate to different parts of the body, so find yourself a useful reflexology map, read about the different techniques you can apply, and start experimenting. Go gently, but rest easy knowing that reflexology is a safe practice. Happy massaging!