Holistic medicine and spiritual healing are going big today for a variety of ailments. One such method of holistic healing is Reflexology. Invented by the Europeans in the late 1800s, foot reflexology refers to massaging and pressuring certain areas on the feet also called ‘zones’ or ‘reflex areas’. It is believed that doing so causes a physical change in the body depending on the area being targeted.
The idea behind benefiting from reflexology is the belief that the whole human body is holographically represented on the sole of the foot and hitting the right area on the feet causes a specific organ to be positively affected. In this article, we shed light on the health benefits and techniques of a reflexology foot massage.
Benefits of Reflexology foot massage
People who constantly receive a reflexology foot massage have vouched that it takes care of problems like insomnia, dizziness, and high blood pressure and kidney problems. It has been regarded as exponential in relieving stress and mental tension. These benefits are just a few of the many advantages of this soothing therapy. To know more keep reading!
Improves blood circulation
A study conducted in the year 2008 signified that reflexology leads to improved blood flow not only to the feet but also to organs like the kidneys and the intestine and led to better functioning. We either have an extremely sedentary lifestyle these days or a highly busy one which keeps us on our feet all day. Getting a reflexology foot massage can be the ultimate soothing tool. Increased and better blood flow means that the nutrients and oxygen contained in the blood reach to the organs quicker improving nourishment.
We, humans, are practically big sacks of stress. Our lives and mentally demanding routines have made us carry a huge amount of stress on a daily basis. There is nothing better than a soothing reflexology foot massage to unwind and to cut all that stress away. Targeting the solar plexus which holds the entire body’s stress, opens energy channels and lets the healing flow all through your body eliminating absolutely any stress present. It takes care of all the fatigue and the tiredness and gives you a sense of rejuvenation and relaxation.
There are zones on the sole of the foot which correspond to mental health and emotional stability. Massaging the central portion of the big toe and the spot at the center of the ball of the foot cause those zones to be activated and deliver a generalized sense of well being and a calm and happier mood. It has been proven by scientific research that foot massages after the loss of a loved one, provide consolation and help in the grieving process.
The foot is filled with around 15,000 nerve endings specialized for the perception of pain and other sensory modalities. However, reflexology not only relieves foot aches but by making use of these nerve endings also heals backaches, neck pains as well as migraines. Target the side of the toe for backaches, the toe joints for neck pain and the whole ankle to get relief from migraines.
A Cambridge clinic observed that people suffering from insomnia benefited heavily from the use of foot massage reflexology. Applying pressure to specific areas like the ones for the pituitary gland, the thyroid, and the adrenals really help with this. The pituitary is the center of all hormonal release and stimulating it leads to better sleep-wake cycle enhancing overall sleep and effectively curing insomnia.
The brain cells are the most active and fragile cells of the body and require a stable supply of oxygen and nutrients. When areas corresponding to the brain are stimulated by applying pressure on them, the oxygen and nutrient delivery gets enhanced. This leads to better cerebral functioning overall and an improved memory.
Reduction of pain
Relief from pain can be achieved by making use of reflexology. Applying pressure onto the zones leads to the production of endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that act like natural painkillers and rid the body of the sensation of pain. It works even better than morphine which is one of the strongest painkillers. Stimulation of the correct zones leads to reduced pain due to endorphin release and is being made use of widely to combat pain.
Helps with pregnancy
The process of labor is sped up with a reflexology foot massage. The area between the ankle and the heel is often used by reflexologists to induce labor and to stimulate contractions. Another possible benefit of reflexology is relief from the generalized pains and aches which are experienced by every other pregnant woman.
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Techniques of reflexology foot massage
A targeted reflexology foot massage can be delivered in a number of ways. Some of the techniques can even be done by yourself eliminating the need to depend on someone. However, if you think that you cannot do it yourself then there are a huge number of reflexology therapists who would be happy to help.
Before employing any reflexology technique make sure to use relaxing techniques so that the feet are completely in a state of calm before you commence. This can be achieved through a gentle massage, spinal twist or stroking and pivoting. By use of all these the blood vessels of the foot get stimulated and heat is released which aids healing. Pivoting and spinal twisting relaxes the joints and makes sure the reflexology massage goes smoothly.
The Basic thumb technique
This is your go-to when the zones being stimulated are located on the sole or the inner side of the foot. There is a specific way to go about when using this technique. Accurately hitting the correct zone involves making use of the first joint of the thumb and periodically bending and unbending it for a much more targeted approach. Over-bending the joint should be avoided as it puts the tip of the thumb in contact with the zones and leads to discomfort either by uneven pressure or the pointy nails.
The slide and press
Stimulating multiple reflex zones can be accomplished with the simple slide and press technique. The feet should be held firmly yet gently to prevent applying too much pressure which could cause discomfort. Both the thumbs should be rested on the sole of the foot and should slide down from the center of the sole to the edge of the foot while applying gentle pressure. You can even alternate the direction of the thumbs making one go upwards and the other go downwards.
The back and forth movement
When releasing tension is the aim of the reflexology foot massage then the back and forth movement is a total essential. The foot has to be held firmly between both hands with the fingers on top of the foot and the thumbs on the sole. Then with gentle force push the foot forwards with one hand and backward with the other periodically. This seemingly swinging motion of the foot releases all tension and gives a sense of relaxation.
Rotation of the toe
In reflexology, the toe joint is synonymous with the neck and its joints. Manipulating the toe joint with motion heals any neck pain and joint stiffness you might be experiencing. This technique is pretty simple and involves holding the toe in your hand and rotating it clockwise or anti-clockwise in a smooth manner. Any nervous stress and neck discomfort are bound to be relieved with toe rotation.
Stimulating reflex zones in tough areas like the heel involves using the hooking technique. This is especially useful for applying pressure onto a small and precise reflex area. The foot is held with firm support by one hand while the working hand’s thumb hooks into the reflex area. The thumb has to be inserted like a hook with maximum pressure almost like a sting and then rapidly taken back. The support from the fingers of the holding hand is crucial to the execution of this technique.
The index finger technique
The index finger comes into play when the target is the upper portion or the dorsum of the foot. The fingers of both the hands are on the top of the foot while the thumbs rest on the sole and provide support for a better grip. With alternating index fingers, a reflex area is stimulated by making use of the pulp of the fingers. Here too, if the joint of the index fingers get over-bent, then you end up digging the skin with your nail causing discomfort.
This works particularly well for abdominal discomforts and pain. The thumb of the working hand should press the reflex in a firm manner while the holding hand gently rotates the whole foot around the thumb in a clockwise then an anti-clockwise direction. It is believed that reflex rotation causes enhancement of blood circulation and a positive effect on the nervous system.
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