The exact origins of Reflexology are disputed to some extent, but the practice may be based on an ancient form of foot, and hand therapy that was practiced in China going back as far as 5,000 B.C.
Traditional Chinese Medicine includes foot reflexology as one of it’s disciplines. This ancient form was developed before recorded history.
Documents later describe Chinese Reflexology as it was performed by a Dr. Yu Fu, who would treat his patients with manual stimulation of the feet.
Statue of Hua Tuo at Anhui College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Chinese Reflexology treats the foot with a firm pressure, and sweeping movements used on the reflex points, which is different than the current American style.
A famous wall painting at the tomb of a physician Ankhmahor in Saqqara Egypt may depict a type hand, and foot therapy being performed (below). The inscription is translated to say "Don't hurt me", the practitioner's reply: "I shall act so you praise me."
There is really no way to know for sure if this piece of artwork is 'actually' describing the application of reflexology, but it is an interesting theory.
Wall Painting at Ankhmahor at Saqqara, Egypt
Scientific research that began our modern day understanding of Reflexology started as early as the 1700's by a German physiologist named Johann August Unzer.
Unzer was a physician working with the central nervous system, and consciousness, and his work had an important impact on modern physiological studies. He is credited with being the first to use the word ‘reflex’ as he referenced motor reactions in the body.
Johann August Unzer
in the bodyDr. William Henry Hope FitzGerald was a researcher who wrote a book called “Zone Therapy or Relieving Pain at Home”, in 1872. This research emerged as the foundation of Zone Therapy in the United States.
Zone theory describes the body as being divided into ten different zones running through the body, starting at the head, and leading to the hands, and feet. These zones can be worked through reflexology to remove congestion in organs, and systems to equalize circulation in the body.
In 1938 a physical therapist, and researcher named Eunice Ingham wrote her first book "Stories the Feet Can Tell Thru Reflexology". Ms. Ingham's teachings, and original writings have inspired much of the current form of reflexology that is practiced in the United States today.
You can find a well written history of Reflexology HERE, on the American Reflexology Certification Board website.
Reflexology is currently practiced as a wholistic complimentary or integrated therapy. This means it can be used to augment medical treatment that has completed, or it can be used in conjunction with ongoing medical treatment. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) covers a wide variety of therapies, such as reflexology, according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
In a 2007 National Health Interview Survey report (graph below), researchers found that approximately four out of ten adults use CAM therapy.
Reflexology should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions, and should not be used to replace care by a physician or licensed Health Care Provider. If you have a medical concern you should schedule an appointment with your doctor or Health Care Provider, or call 911 if it is an emergency situation.
Many people find Reflexology to be relaxing, and may help with stress relief, and sleep issues. The National Institutes of Health warns that stress can seriously affect your health, and suggests that it is very important to pay close attention to both minor and major stress events, so you will know when to seek help before it puts your health at risk. HERE is a NIH National Institute of Mental Health flyer that provides more detailed information about stress.
Reflexology is a gentle non-invasive complementary therapy, which is made possible by the nervous system function called the Arc Reflex. It is the stimulation of receptors in the feet or hands that send signals along the sensory neuron to the spinal cord. Those signals are then relayed to effector motor neurons at a site, such as organs, muscles or glands. It is the Arc Reflex that allows various points on the feet, hands, or ears have a correlation with other areas of the body. Reflexology increases circulation, relieves stress, and tension; improves nerve and blood supply, assists the body in returning to a state of homeostasis; and aides the body in healing itself. Everyone person is different, and their reaction to any therapy will be individual as well. Please take a look at our BLOG for more information.
Working with a holistic mindset, reflexologists work with their clients to promote health alongside ongoing allopathic healthcare. Reflexology therapy is safe, and can be received by newborns, children, young people, those in midlife, seniors, and those receiving end of life care.
Reflexology can not diagnose illness, or disease, nor does it treat for any specific condition. Reflexologists do not prescribe medications to their clients.
A reflexologist will ask you about your health, assess the condition of your feet or hands, and will advise you if it is not suitable for you to receive treatment at the time. If you have any questions, please ask.
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We provide reflexology massage, which includes foot reflexology, hand reflexology, reflexology for women, as well as reflexology for men, and kids in Cincinnati, OH.
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