What is reflexology?
The National Institutes of Health (2008) recognizes Reflexology as a non-invasive bodybased discipline that is based on the principal that the human body is self-regulating and has an innate healing ability. Reflexology is a holistic discipline that can elicit physiological changes in the body that promote overall well-being.
How does reflexology work?
In theory, reflex points on the hands, feet and ears correspond to all the organs, glands, muscles and bones in the body and represent a mirror image of the human body in its entirety. Guided by maps of these reflex points, the reflexologist uses specific thumb, finger and hand techniques to stimulate specific reflex points. Scientists are continuing to study its effect on the body?s central nervous system as well as the efficacy of reflexology as a health promoting modality.
What are the benefits of reflexology?
Research has demonstrated reflexology can elicit deep relaxation which may promote normalization of heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and blood cortisol levels (fight or flight hormones). Deep relaxation elicits the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and has been shown to produce a calming effect on the body and mind.
Who should receive a reflexology session?
Reflexology is appropriate for most of the population. Some contraindications may apply (See contraindications # 6 below). Children should be accompanied by a parent. Children and senior citizens may require shorter sessions of 30 minutes or less.
What should I expect during a session?
Sessions vary in length per practitioner. You will remain fully clothed with feet or hands exposed. You may feel a deep state of relaxation. Some people drift into sleep. Reflexology should not be painful but you may have areas that are very sensitive and you should inform the practitioner so he/she can adjust the pressure. Some people experience a release of emotions, if so; you may want to communicate this with the reflexologist.
Are there any conditions when having reflexology is not a good idea?
RAI recommends the guidelines of The American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB) regarding precautions or contraindications for reflexology. They include, but are not limited to the following:
- First trimester of pregnancy
- Recent fractures or surgery of foot or hand
- Edema or swelling of the feet that is pitting
- Open wounds on feet or hands
- Nail fungus (this is a communicable disease)
- Warts: hand or plantar warts on feet (communicable disease)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clot in leg(s)
- Varicose veins
When in doubt, the reflexologist can (with your permission) contact your primary care physician to discuss if reflexology is right for you at this time. Some practitioners wear gloves during sessions as a Universal Precaution.
What credentials should I look for so I find a qualified practitioner?
The RAI web site lists members throughout Illinois who are qualified to practice reflexology. Refer to our list of practitioners and/or ask the following questions: What school the practitioner attended. The number of hours of training completed (200 hrs. is recommended for basic certification). (Also, not required, an additional 90 hours of documented clinical hours, a written exam and a practical with an ARCB proctor for national certification through the ARCB). Ask to see certificates of course completion.
Please note the following: Reflexologists do not:
- Diagnose a condition.
- Prognosticate (predict future conditions)
- Prescribe, adjust, change or discontinue any medications, vitamins or herbal