Reflexology is an ancient healing technique that has been increasingly proven by modern research methods. You can learn to apply it in the comfort of your own home, and it's as simple as squeezing specific points on your feet, hands, and ears. These points have peripheral nerves connected to the central nervous system. By stimulating them, you can alleviate pain and reduce stress through simple yet powerful touch.
Part 1 of 3: Understand what Reflexology is
Step 1. Know the fundamentals of reflexology
It is based on the premise that the nerves in your feet, hands and ears are connected to certain parts of your body. Applying pressure to certain areas of these nerves can relieve symptoms that appear in the respective parts of the body. For example, squeezing a specific nerve in your big toe can reduce tension in your head and relieve pain in that part of your body. Squeezing the right spot on your heel can help with digestion. Reflexology has even been used to help treat heart disease and other serious ones like cancer and diabetes. Research has increasingly shown that reflexology has four main effects:
- It can stimulate specific organs, such as increasing blood flow to the kidneys.
- This technique can also help improve overall organ function by relieving specific symptoms.
- Reflexology also helps to relax and reduce anxiety.
- It is known that pain throughout the body can be relieved through this art known for centuries.
Step 2. Know your body's reflexology zones
Visualize your body divided into a system of longitudinal and transverse zones. Try to imagine 5 zones on each side of your body, starting at the tip of each toe, running the length of your body to the top of your head. The transverse zones (similar to the longitudinal lines) divide the areas of your feet into zones that correspond from the head to the neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis area. This concept is also referred to as reflex zone therapy.
- Know which foot reflexes correspond to each limb, organ, and gland in the body. When you apply pressure to these specific points, you will stimulate the corresponding limb, organ, or gland.
- Use reflexology to induce deep relaxation, which will relieve tension and stress. When your body is under stress, your energy reserves are depleted and you are less able to fight infections. When your body is in a state of deep relaxation induced by reflexology, its natural healing power is activated.
Step 3. Consider making an appointment with a professional reflexologist
Look for a qualified professional who can introduce you to the best of this practice. He or she will be able to show you the technique of "walking" with your fingers through the right spots on your hands, feet and ears to relieve stress and pain in other parts of your body.
- Before choosing a reflexologist, make sure he or she has proven training and experience.
- If you are interested in becoming a reflexologist, it is worth visiting the website of IBRAPE (Brazilian Institute of Research and Education) to consult the topic “Fodal Reflexology”. There are other institutions, such as Oniki do Brasil and Osni Lourenço.
Step 4. Apply pressure to the reflex points
Once you've identified which zone you want to work on, consult a chart or a professional to find the correct reflex points on your foot. Apply light pressure to the area. The pressure you apply to these points will stimulate your body to create endorphins that interrupt the pain cycle and relieve stress.
- For those receiving the treatment, the feeling is similar to a foot massage. The pressure applied should be firm, but not to the point of being painful. Use your fingers and thumbs to gently work the area for a few minutes.
- To prepare for a reflexology session, just relax. It is often considered a holistic healing practice, but no specific mental preparation is needed to make it effective.
Part 2 of 3: Relieving Stress
Step 1. Get in a comfortable position
Take off your shoes and socks and sit cross-legged on a bed or yoga mat. Try to relax your body to prepare for the recovery process. You can either do your own reflexology treatment or you can work with a friend who can apply pressure to the hardest-to-reach spots.
Step 2. Relieve tension in your neck and head
Press the joints of your eight toes (for now, leaving the big toes out). If you have a tense neck, you will feel tension or slight discomfort in one of your corresponding fingers. Your entire head is represented in your two big toes. So, to relieve the headache, try pressing your big toes.
- Firmly squeeze the backs of your toes, one at a time.
- Continue until you feel the tension begin to leave your neck and head.
Step 3. Help your chest to relax
Stress often manifests itself in the form of difficulty filling the lungs with air. Put pressure on the balls of your feet (the part where your body weight rests when you stand on your tiptoes) to relieve chest discomfort. This area contains the reflexes of your lungs, airway, heart, thymus gland, chest and shoulders.
Step 4. Relieve unpleasant sensations in the stomach
If you are constantly experiencing tension and stress in your stomach, press the reflex points on your instep to relieve discomfort in your abdominal organs. This is the right area to work on if you're experiencing "anguishing emotions," or if you wake up with a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Step 5. Relax your members
If your legs, arms and shoulders are tense, use reflexology to relax. Ease the tension in your arms and legs by applying pressure to the reflex points on the outer edges of your feet.
Step 6. Sleep better
Try applying pressure to a combination of all reflex points to alleviate insomnia. Stress is often the main cause behind insomnia. If worries, fears, and tension keep you awake at night, you can ease your insomnia using the same reflex points you would use to relieve tension and stress:
- Apply pressure to the back of your toes to relieve pressure on your neck and head.
- Squeeze the balls of your feet to get better breathing.
- Work the inner edge of your feet to help calm your stomach.
- Press the outer edge of the feet to relieve tight muscles.
Part 3 of 3: Relieving Pain
Step 1. Ask a friend to help you
When you are trying to ease the pain, it may be better to work together than alone. In this way, you can try to completely relax your body to allow the recovery process to take place more quickly and effectively. Avoid tight clothing or shoes and lie down on a bed or other comfortable surface before starting your reflexology session.
- Leave only a soft lamp or lamp to create a more peaceful environment. The less unnecessary stimuli the better.
- To make the session even more relaxing, try lighting scented candles and using massage oil.
Step 2. End the headache
Reflexology is excellent for relieving simple headaches. Alleviate the tension and headaches of sinusitis by applying pressure to reflex points for the head and neck, which are located on your foot. All your toes have points that correlate with your head, face and brain.
- Apply pressure to the entire surface of each of your toes to relieve the migraine. Press your thumb on each toe and repeat the process at least ten times for each toe. This method is particularly effective if your migraine was triggered by sinusitis.
- If you suffer from chronic or unexplained headaches, see a doctor to find out if your headaches are being caused by other health problems.
Step 3. Alleviate pain in general
A general reflexology session can relieve both generalized and specific pain. Most reflex points should be held down for about 10 seconds at a time. Don't be in a hurry when it comes to squeezing all the reflex points on each of your feet. Squeeze lightly and be aware of any areas that are sore. This could be a sign that the corresponding organ or limb is in trouble.
- Treat all reflex points on each foot to find all problem areas.
- When you have finished working with the reflex points on your feet, return to the sore spots and gently squeeze them until you no longer feel pain or discomfort in the area.
- If the day is cold, keep a towel or small blanket around so you can cover and keep the untreated foot warm.
- Do a short reflexology session on yourself just before going to sleep. You will enjoy your sleep better if you have relaxed the tension in your muscles before going to bed.
- Reflexology increases the flow of fluids in your body; so be sure to drink plenty of water after a session.
- Create a relaxing environment for your reflexology session. Use soft lighting and play music with a calm melody.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before, during and after a reflexology treatment. As you may discover, the treatment itself increases the effect of alcohol. In addition, the use of alcohol combined with reflexology can overload the body's organs, as it is forced to deal with the stimulation that the treatment provides when the body is full of toxins.
- Reflexology is a complementary healing technique, not a substitute for any medical professional.
- While there are many pressure points that can treat and alleviate common problems during pregnancy, there are some reflex points that, if pressed too hard, can induce labor. They are located inside the heel, in the arch of the foot, and between the thumb and middle toe. These are excellent reflex points that can be worked on during childbirth. DURING and NOT BEFORE delivery.