interviewed Bill Flocco, a re-flexology teacher and researcher and the founder and director of the American
Academy of Reflexology, based in Los Angeles. He is the author of several books on reflexology, including
Anatomy of a Reflexology Research Study
Reflexology has long been viewed by many Americans and medical professionals as little more than a foot massage.
Recent scientific studies show that chronic pain, diges-tive disorders and other common health problems can be relieved
through the use of this practice. Reflexology, which was developed by three medical professionals in the early 20th century,
involves ap-plying pressure to specific areas -known as “reflex points” -located on the feet, hands and ears.
How it works:
When a body part is injured or stops functioning properly due to disease, irritat-ing chemicals accumulate in
distant but related nerve endings in the feet, hands and ears. Various studies have repeatedly shown that when certain parts of
the feet, hands and ears are worked on with touch techniques, relief results in corresponding parts of the body.
You can perform many basic forms of reflexology on your-self or a partner.
For best results, work on all of the reflex points described in this article for at least five minutes twice a day, four or more times
a week. Relief can be experienced within minutes, but it sometimes takes days or weeks of repeatedly working on the appropriate
reflex areas to get results.
Do not work on bruises, cuts, sores, skin infections or directly on areas where you have damaged a bone or strained
a joint during the preceding three to six months. If you’ve had surgery or suffered a bone fracture, ask your surgeon when it’s
safe to perform reflexology on these areas.
The main technique used on most parts of the feet and hands, including those points described below, is the “thumb roll.”
Place gentle pressure with the pad of your thumb against the area on which you wish to work. Maintaining this pressure and moving slowly, bend the knuckle in the center of the thumb in an up-ward direction and roll your thumb from the pad toward the tip, moving it forward. Next, reverse the movement of the knuckle, so that once your thumb is flattened you can do another thumb roll, each time moving forward in the direc-tion the thumb is pointing.
Reflex points that correspond to common complaints …
While sitting in a chair, place your left foot on your right knee. Use your left thumb to locate the “diaphragm line,” which separates the ball of your foot and your instep, where the skin color changes between the pad and soft part of the sole. On this line, about an inch from the inner edge of the foot, press gently with the tip of your thumb while squeezing gently with your index fin-ger on top of the foot for five to 10 minutes.
Next, place the tip of your right thumb on the soft part of your left palm at the point between the base of the knuckles below your index and middle fingers. With the fingers of your right hand gently squeezing the back of your left hand, apply gentle pressure with the tip of your right thumb for five to 10 minutes.
Start with the hand corresponding to the side of your head where the pain is most noticeable. On the back of that hand, locate a point about an inch below the base knuckle of your index fin-ger in the fleshy web between your index finger and thumb. Place the tip of the thumb of your other hand on this point and the tip of your index finger of the other hand on the palm side of this point, squeezing to find a spot that’s slightly thicker and more tender than the sur-rounding area. While maintaining steady pressure, gently move the tip of your thumb in small circles over this spot. (This movement is different from the thumb roll.) It usu-ally takes about five minutes of work to alleviate a tension headache, and up to an hour to reduce or eliminate a migraine headache.
This point should not be worked on during the first tri-mester of pregnancy, as it could have an adverse effect on the fetus. Instead, work only on the related point on the ear, as described in the next column.
After you have completed the hand reflexology, locate the small, hard flap of cartilage at the top of your earlobe, then feel where this flap and the earlobe meet. With the tip of your thumb on the front of the ear and the tip of your index finger behind the ear, gently squeeze this point between your index finger and thumb, feeling for a spot that’s slightly thicker and more tender than the surrounding area. Squeeze both ears at once, holding for five to 10 minutes, while resting your elbows on a table or desk.
IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
While sitting, place your left foot on your right knee. With the fingers of your left hand, gently grasp the top of the foot. Using the thumb roll tech-nique in repeated overlap-ping strips, work across from the inner edge to the outer edge of the foot, on all of the soft part of the sole and the entire heel, for 10 minutes. Repeat, using your right thumb on the bottom of your right foot.
After you have completed the foot reflexology, use your right thumb to perform the thumb roll technique on your left palm. Work from the outside to the inside of the palm, starting just below the base of the fingers and progressing toward the wrist. Repeat, using your left thumb to work on the right palm.
NECK PAIN AND STIFF NECK
Move your finger slightly above the cartilage flap described in the headache section, and find a ridge of cartilage run-ning up and down the ear. Place the tips of your index fingers on the lower inch of this ridge on both ears while resting your elbows on a table or desk.. Squeeze gently but firmly between your index fingers and thumbs, with your thumbs behind the ears. Continue for five to 10 minutes.
Reprinted with permission of: Bottom Line/Health, Boardroom, Inc., 261 Tresser Blvd, 8
th Floor, Stamford, CT 06901