What is Reflexology?
At the core of reflexology is vitalism, the popular concept which explains that our bodies are governed by an innate intelligence that monitors and promotes self-healing.
Similar to how a gauze or bandage helps stimulate the natural blood-clotting response to cutting yourself by accident, reflexologists believe that their systematic approach to hand and foot massage stimulates the nervous system to trigger a healing response.
The history of reflexology is quite rich, as are the theories attempting to explain this mysterious healing art. Let’s take a look at each of these in a little more detail …
How Reflexology Works
As mysterious as its origin, the science behind reflexology has eluded researchers for years and no one knows exactly why it works. Nonetheless, research studies across the globe pretty much all agree: reflexology is quite effective at helping prevent and treat a plethora of heath conditions.
There are four primary theories that best describe how reflexology works.
Central Nervous System Adaption Theory
This theory is based on the late 19th century discovery by Englishmen Sir Henry Head and Sir Charles Sherrington that uncovered a relationship between our skin and organs, in which external stimuli (i.e., application of pressure on the hands or feed) causes the nervous system to trigger a desired healing effect.
Gate Control Theory
The gate control theory refers to pain being an experience subjectively created by the brain, hence the pain-relieving characteristic of reflexology occurs because massage improves mood and stress.
Vital Energy Theory
Bordering on the ancient concept of yin and yang, this theory claims that stress impedes the flow of the “vital energy” that exists in each human body — reflexology helps keep the flow uninhibited.
Based on the principle that our hands and feet can be charted into “reflex zones” that correspond to organs and other parts of the body, the history of reflexology and zone therapy are so closely linked together that it deserves a much greater explanation.