Stress is an unavoidable part of modern life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything to combat its harmful effects on our bodies. If left unchecked stress can have a serious impact on our health and cause anything from heart problems to early aging.
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Studies have even found that stress makes it harder for us to control our emotions. Obviously it is important to get rid of the negative effects caused by stress, but jumping on a plane or cruise ship and going for a long holiday is not an option for everyone.
Exercising, getting plenty of rest and eating healthily can have a positive effect, but one method that is often overlooked is reflexology.
What Exactly Is Reflexology?
Many treatments these days target the symptoms of illness or disease and not the cause, but reflexology works in the opposite way. According to the theory behind reflexology, there are areas on the hands, ears and feet that are linked directly to specific systems and organs inside our bodies.
Applying pressure to these points can then, in turn, have a beneficial effect on the associated organs, thereby relieving stress. Reflexology is also able to balance the body systems through deep relaxation which helps to cancel out the harmful effects of stress.
Is Reflexology Safe?
Reflexology is a non-invasive procedure which means it is generally safe for anyone. Even young children can benefit from reflexology although they will usually only have the patience for abbreviated sessions.
Pregnant women should exercise caution, however, as there is a small chance that contractions can be caused by the stimulation of reflexology. Practitioners of reflexology will generally also decline to work on someone with unhealed wounds on their feet or fractures.
How Old Is Reflexology?
With a history that dates back as far as ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, reflexology is definitely not a new fad. When it was “rediscovered” in America by Dr. William Fitzgerald, he called it Zone Therapy and went on to write books about the subject.
One thing is for sure; reflexology has stood the test of time and still offers a low cost way to rid the body of stress.
What To Expect During A Reflexology Session
Before the first reflexology your practitioner will generally request a full medical history, but don’t worry as this information is kept confidential. You might also be asked to sign a form consenting to the treatment, but this doesn’t mean you have to worry about any pain! The practitioner will use their hands to apply pressure to your hands or feet, which will have a relaxing effect on your body.
Typically a reflexology session will last anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour. Reflexology is often confused with massage, but instead of relaxing specific muscles through systematic manipulation, reflexology focuses on reflex points on the feet or hands. Also, unlike massage therapy, you remain fully clothed except for the removal of footwear when experiencing a reflexology session.
How Does Reflexology Combat Stress?
Stress is associated with the adrenal glands as they secrete the adrenaline hormone when our fight or flight instincts kick in. In reflexology, the adrenal gland is believed to be associated with a small area located directly beneath the balls of our feet, near the big toe.
A practitioner of reflexology is able to manipulate this pea-shaped area in order to help the body heal itself. It also brings balance to the body and promotes relaxation.
Some people believe that reflexology encourages the brain to release more endorphins in the body. Endorphins not only decrease the sensation of pain, but also enhance the immune response of the body and decreases the negative effects of stress.
While similar results can be achieved with drugs, there is no risk of dependence or addiction when opting for reflexology. In fact, reflexology can be so relaxing and de-stressing that some people have actually reported falling asleep during sessions!
Have Studies Been Performed About Reflexology?
Although there are many people who are satisfied with the results they got from reflexology, there are not that many studies with solid results. However, among the studies that have been performed the evidence appears to be positive.
For example, a pilot trial was done to see whether reflexology could reduce the physiological stress and pain among nursing home residents with cancer. The treatment was not only well- received by the participants, but also showed measurable improvements in the outcomes.
Another study, testing the clinical efficacy of reflexology in nursing home residents with dementia, also revealed a reduction in physiologic distress.
The bottom line is that reflexology is a relatively inexpensive way to help the body with self-healing and suitable for just about anyone.