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Self-care: What Is Reflexology?

  • By Medical Bulletin 
  • Category: Wellness 
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More than ever, self-care is given importance in our society. It’s in the Instagram captions and Facebook quotes. By now, you should have listened and made time to reward your body for staying strong against Covid-19.

The body and soul are interconnected. All areas of your health, be it physical, mental, or social, require attention. Since they’re interconnected, caring for one aspect can affect the others. Even if you don’t have a whole weekend to pamper yourself, taking just a few minutes a day to detox and relax can improve your physical body’s immunity in the long run.

Massage and Reflexology

A routine skincare or a bath soak are can be good stress relievers. But it’s good to go deeper and stimulate your circulation with a massage. By working on the external pressure points, you let your internal system heal itself. Consequently, you’ll be in a good mood in no time.

You can’t go wrong with a massage, whether done at a professional service or simply at home with a portable massager. But for something more specific—to target crucial parts of your body that need help—reflexology ensures that each pressure is applied with purpose.

Five Basic Pressure Points

Nerves connect all parts of the body. Different parts of your face, hand, and foot are linked to vital organs of the body.

Improve your massage experience with these basic reflexology points. For a quick, DIY massage at home, you can use small, but power-packed handheld massagers to target the areas.

  1. Tip of the finger. Each tip of your 10 fingers comprise the “ten dispersions.” Reflexologists recommend kneading on these points to relieve common flu symptoms.
  2. Heel of the foot. Nine to five workers are prone to back pain due to sitting all day. Massaging the heel of the foot may relieve symptoms, as it is connected to the lower back (pelvis) and the gluteal
  3. Creases of the toe. These are thought to be connected to the teeth and sinuses.
  4. Forehead. The center of your forehead connects to the small intestine, the area on its sides connect to the bladder, while the area above the eyebrows stimulate the heart.
  5. Temples. The sides of your head between the eyes and ears are connected to your shoulders.

Promising Data

More in-depth studies have yet to explore the qualities of reflexology. It doesn’t help that like acupuncture, reflexology is associated with Eastern medicine and seen as opposite to Western medicine. But so far, the results are promising. Reflexology has been found to manage migraine and back pain and promote healthy circulation in small-scale studies.

So how does reflexology work according to its practitioners?

woman in pain

Theories on Reflexology

The American Academy of Reflexology lists 20 theories that support reflexology. These include closed bio-electric circuitry. Formulated by Bijorn Nordenstrom, it explains that energy flows through the blood vessels and the fluid between cells. The academy also noted the discovery of substance P, a chemical released by the body when it experiences imbalance, such as from stress and anxiety. When there is a stressed part of the body, for example, the substance P it releases accumulates at the corresponding nerve ending in the face, foot, or hand.

Reflexologists also explain that reflexology works with the central nervous system, influencing the vital organs of the body. This traces back to the two studies that established a neurological connection between the skin and the organs. In the 1890s, Sir Henry Head found a relationship between pressure applied on the skin and the internal organs. Later in 1906, in a Nobel-Prize-winning study, Sir Charles Sherrington coined “synapse” and found how the nervous system reacts to outside stimuli through nerve endings.

Thus, according to these studies, stimulus can be a powerful thing.

Reflexology as a Complementary Treatment

The University of Minnesota particularly notes that reflexology is a complementary treatment and cannot be solely used to diagnose diseases and cure them. It had been explored particularly in conditions such as headaches, asthma, and anxiety. In an ambitious attempt, the Journal of Oncological Sciences published a study linking reflexology with cancer treatment, but it highlighted only the complementary effects of the practice in treating the symptoms and side effects of cancer, such as shortness of breath and anxiety—not cancer itself.

When Is It Not Advisable to Try Reflexology?

  1. When you have diarrhea or a fever due to infections. Rather than cure, reflexology may overstimulate the body and worsen symptoms.
  2. Pregnancy up to the third trimester. Since there is a lack of data on the effects of reflexology on pregnant females, it has been noted that reflexologists may be blamed for .
  3. When there is localized swelling of any part of the body. Bloating and inflammation can be a symptom of a disease needing immediate medical attention. In this case, reflexology, which works quietly and gradually, may not be enough.

No Pain, All Gain

Aside from the instances above, there can be no harm in making reflexology your new method for self-care. Furthermore, given that most studies find reflexology’s uses in stress and anxiety, it might be able to give you that deep relaxation you seek.

As the term implies, self-care focuses on your own self, and there’s not one size that fits all. With the universal healing power of touch and stimuli, coupled with reflexology’s targeted precision, there’s finally a relaxation time customizable for you.