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by Ron Kurtus (29 December 2001)

Reflexology is a natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflex areas in the hands, feet and ears that correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body.

Through application of pressure on these areas, reflexology can relieve tension, improve circulation and promote the natural function of the related areas of the body in a natural way.

It is supposed to be a type of preventative maintenance to bring the body back into a homeostasis or balance.

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This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer

Basis of reflexology

Forms of reflexology were by in ancient India, China and Egypt. The method is still used in those countries, but it was later refined in the United States in the early 1900s.

Theory concerning pressure

The method was introduced to the United States in 1913 by Dr. William Fitzgerald, who noted that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an anaesthetizing effect on a related area. He developed a theory that pressure applied in certain areas of  the fingers and toes could affect other areas and organs within the body.

In the 1930's, therapist Eunice Ingham refined the method concerning the feet. She observed that tension in any part of the foot mirrors congestion or tension in a corresponding part of the body. For example, treating the big toes can result in a related effect in the head. Treating the whole foot can have a relaxing and healing effect on the whole body.

The theory is that the body has the ability to heal itself. Following illness, stress, injury or disease, the body is in a state of "imbalance" and vital energy pathways are blocked, preventing the body from functioning effectively. Reflexology is thought to restore and maintain the body's natural equilibrium and encourage healing.

Ancients did it naturally

In ancient times people stimulated the reflexes in their feet naturally by walking barefoot over rocks, stones and rough ground. In today's modern world the theory is that people have lost much of Nature's way of maintaining a balanced and healthy equilibrium. Reflexology is supposed to help to restore this balance and promote natural health and vitality.

Difference of East versus West

In Western reflexology no implements are used, only the therapists hands. In the Eastern style of reflexology found in Asia, implements are used and the finger pressure is much heavier.


The treatment involved in reflexology consists of massage and pressure on areas of the feet. Sometimes the hands or even the ears are also treated.

Detect imbalances

With gentle pressure to the feet a trained therapist can detect tiny deposits and imbalances. If discomfort is noticed in some areas of the foot, it is an indication of congestion or imbalance in a corresponding part of the body.

By working on these points, blockages can be released and the free flow of energy restored to the whole body. Tensions are eased, and circulation and elimination is improved. This gentle therapy encourages the body to heal itself at its own pace, often counteracting a lifetime of misuse.

Feel sensations

During a treatment session the patient may feel different sensations in his or her feet. For the most part, the sensation is pleasant and soothing, but sometimes a sharp pain may be felt or the feet may feel very sensitive. Sensitivity varies from person to person and from treatment to treatment.

Reflexology is supposed to relax the patient, while stimulating the body's own healing mechanisms.


Since reflexology treats the whole person, not the symptoms of disease, most people benefit from treatment. Reflexology is used primarily for relaxing tension. Studies show that a great number of health problems can be linked to nervous stress and tension.

Normalize body functions

Reflexology helps to normalize body functions. The therapy brings relief to a wide range of acute and chronic conditions and is suitable for all ages. Once a person's body is in tune, regular treatments are advised to help maintain health and keep a balanced, harmonized body.

Reactions to treatments

Most reactions to treatments result in becoming calm, relaxed or energized and rejuvenated. Sometimes a person may have a cleansing reaction where they may be increased urination as the kidneys are stimulated, more frequent bowel movements, disrupted sleep patterns, or tiredness. This is transitory and shows how the body is responding to treatment.

May not solve problems

Although relaxation and reduction of stress is good for a person, it may not really solve specific health problems. If a symptom is chronic, it is advisable to see a physician.

It should be remembered that the purpose of reflexology is really stress-reduction and balancing of a body's energy. It may help in natural healing, it also should not be substituted for sound medical advice.


Reflexology is a field of therapy where a practitioner applies pressure to certain parts of the feet to relieve stress in other parts of the body. It attempts to create a balance in the body, which will help reduce stress and enhance natural healing.

Relax and be healthy

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Reflexology Research Project - Promoting reflexology studies

General Health Resources


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