This ancient healing art is based on the principle that there are reflexes in the body –especially in the hands and feet– that correspond to the body's organs and glands. Stimulating and applying pressure to the feet or hands can affect the health of other parts of the body, including the digestive system.
+ According to the teaching of reflexology there are points on your feet directly connected to other organs in the body.
Because of its ability to stimulate energy, reflexology is considered a healing art. The positive results of reflexology are not based on exact science. However, through practice it has been proven to give positive results and today it is a widely accepted complementary treatment.
It is believed that the study and practice of reflexology dates back to ancient China 5,000 years ago. Archeologists have discovered wall paintings in ancient Egyptian tombs depicting the practice of reflexology, leading many to believe that the healing art was used in ancient times. Modern reflexology is based on the work of US physician William Fitzgerald, who in 1913 studied the ancient Oriental healing art of using pressure to relieve pain into a usable diagnostic therapy. Physiotherapist Eunice Ingham, further developed Fitzgerald's therapy, perfecting a diagram of reflex points that we use today (see the following page).
∎ For cases of gastritis. It may help to press on the point that corresponds to the diaphragm and chest cavity, with the objective of calming your nerves to facilitate the proper functioning of your digestive system.
∎ To relieve constipation and for diarrhea. It may help to press on the point that corresponds to the large intestine or colon. First on your right foot and then on your left foot.
Although an experienced practitioner should apply reflexology, there are massages based on this technique that you can do yourself to relieve discomfort.
Reflexology can be used to stimulate or to sedate an affected organ. For advanced disorders, it's best to see a reflexologist.
There are useful exercises to work on slight discomforts like indigestion, upset stomach and headaches. Even if you aren't suffering from an ailment, a good foot massage can help to relax your body.
Before giving yourself a reflexology massage, it's recommended to sit in a comfortable position so that you can reach your feet. Do not bend your back, because you will block the flow of your breath. Although you can give yourself a massage with your socks on, it's best to do these exercises in your bare feet. Begin by massaging the point that corresponds to your chest cavity, in the center of the foot to release built up tension. To relax your foot, wrap your hand around your ankle and roll your foot with your other hand. Next, massage the entire base of your foot with your fist. End by pressing with your thumbs on the point that corresponds to your chest cavity (see the photo) to relieve tension. Once you've relaxed the foot and studied the foot chart (see the diagram on page 23) you can do the following exercises:
∎ For a burning or acidic sensation caused by regurgitation. This discomfort is a symptom caused by the muscles of the esophagus contracting and stomach acid rising to the esophagus. Massage the points that correspond to the stomach, chest cavity and suprarenal gland.
∎ For excess gas. Press on the points that correspond to the stomach and colon. You can also massage on the points that correspond to the chest cavity, diaphragm and kidney.
∎ For indigestion. Indigestion can be caused by a number of digestive problems, like gasses in the stomach or the intestine. It's best to start in the area that corresponds to the torso and press with your fist on the bottom of the foot, massage using a rocking motion from your finger tips to your knuckles. Next, work on the reflex points for the stomach, intestine, chest cavity and diaphragm.
∎ For ulcers. These internal sores on the stomach lining (peptic and gastric), or in the small intestine (duodenal) cause discomfort and pain. You should press on the reflex point corresponding to the affected area, and on the points corresponding to the chest cavity, diaphragm and suprarenal gland, because working on these areas can relieve stress, which is the principle cause of ulcers.