10 Health Benefits of Foot Reflexology (2022)

By Jon Yaneff, CNP- December 8, 2015

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

10 Health Benefits of Foot Reflexology (1)
In this article:
What Is Foot Reflexology ?
How Does Foot Reflexology Work?
Health Benefits of a Foot Reflexology Massage
Foot Reflexology Precautions
What Else Should You Know About Foot Reflexology?

What Is Foot Reflexology ?

Foot reflexology is an alternative therapy that enhances the distinctive healing mechanisms of the body. It involves pressure to specific reflex points on the feet using certain hand, finger, or thumb techniques. Reflexology is based on the premise that internal organs, bones, and body systems can be positively influenced from properly applying pressure to the points on the feet, ears, or hands.

Reflexology shows that there is much more to that good old-fashioned foot rub you give your spouse on their birthday. In fact, the art of foot reflexology massage is an ancient practice that dates back to Egypt and China over 5,000 years ago. A pictograph on the Egyptian tomb of Ankhmahor is thought to be one of the first recordings of the foot reflexology points.

In 1913, William H. Fitzgerald introduced reflexology to the U.S. Since that time, reflexology has become a popular form of alternative therapy around the world.

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Nowadays, reflexology is common practice. I wouldn’t be surprised if your massage therapist uses the therapeutic pressure technique during your next massage session. Many massage therapists are also trained to perform reflexology.

How Does Foot Reflexology Work?

What is foot reflexology and how does it work? Reflexology works to restore the body’s health. According to reflexology, there are different reflex zones throughout the body. In total there are 10 zones on the body; five on the front and five on the back. Points on the bottom of the feet represent each zone. For instance, foot reflexology points on your toes are representative of the brain.

The foot reflexology chart, or map of reflex points, will help represent how certain body parts correspond to others. Each foot represents one half of the body. For example, the liver is on the right side of the body, and therefore the right foot is the corresponding reflex area. A reflexology appointment may include a general, integrated session, or it may focus on certain trouble areas at the ears, hands, and feet. When someone just wants to relax, they may want to just focus on the ears.

Reflexology works to help release stress. As a result, the body will heal and regenerate itself. Throughout the years, certain theories have helped explain reflexology:

  • Reflexology works on the central nervous system: This theory is based on research that explains the neurological relationship between internal organs and the skin, and that the entire nervous system adjusts when stimulated. When pressure is made to the ears, hands, and feet, a calming message is sent to the central nervous system. As a result, overall relaxation helps the organs function at their best.
  • The neuromatrix theory of pain: This theory suggests that pain is simply subjective. In other words, the brain responds to the sensory experience of pain, but it can also work in response to cognitive or emotional factors. As a result, reflexology may decrease pain by improving mood and reducing stress.
  • Theory of vital energy: When stress is not addressed, there is energy congestion, and inefficiencies in the body will lead to illnesses. Reflexology will allow energy to flow freely.

Health Benefits of a Foot Reflexology Massage

Reflexology is not a diagnostic or curative procedure. Instead, it is used to complement a variety of health conditions. After one or two foot reflexology sessions you will begin to notice results. That being said, one session per week for four to five straight weeks is the general recommendation. At the end of the sessions the reflexologist will assess the client’s improvement. Reflexology is a lot more than a foot massage. Besides relaxation, there are a number of health benefits of a foot reflexology massage:

(Video) What is Foot Reflexology - Foot Massage And Benefits - How to do Foot Reflexology Step By Step

1. Cancer: There are a number of studies that show how reflexology can help reduce cancer treatment symptoms, including nausea, pain, constipation or diarrhea. In a study published in the journal Nursing Standard in 2000, researchers found that reflexology can benefit patients during the palliative care stage of cancer. Also, a study published in the Oncology Nursing Forum in 2000 found that reflexology could significantly reduce anxiety in breast and lung cancer patients.

2. Arthritis: Foot reflexology benefits have also been used for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In the U.S., osteoarthritis affects over 50 million people, and it is more common than rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies suggest that reflexology can reduce the pain associated with arthritis. In a study published in the Journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2013, researchers from the University of Portsmouth found that reflexology may be as effective as painkillers for osteoarthritis. The patients had felt approximately 40% less pain.

3. Hypertension: Reflexology has been found to reduce hypertension—a common risk of heart disease. In a Korean study from 2004, researchers found that a foot reflexology massage could effectively reduce systolic blood pressure. For the study, 34 participants were either assigned to the reflexology group or the control group. Reflexology was performed twice weekly for a six-week period.

4. Type 2 diabetes: Diabetes is a serious health issue that produces high blood sugar levels. In a recent systematic review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers concluded that self-administered foot reflexology might have a positive effect in type 2 diabetics.

5. Migraine and tension headaches: Foot reflexology massage can also effectively reduce tension and migraine headaches. A blind, randomized trial from 2000 found that a foot reflexology massage was as effective as a drug called flunarizine, which is used to prevent migraine headaches. The study examined 32 headache patients after a foot reflexology massage session, and again after a three-month follow-up.

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6. Anxiety and depression: Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems. The relaxation benefits of reflexology tend to extend beyond massages. For example, a 2002 study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that a foot massage and reflexology could decrease depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women.

7. Multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a progressive and chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system. A small study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research in the spring of 2015 found that reflexology decreases fatigue in women with multiple sclerosis. Other evidence suggests that reflexology may reduce the tingling associated with multiple sclerosis.

8. Sinusitis: Sinusitis is a chronic or acute condition often caused by another respiratory infection like the flu, a cold, or bronchitis. In a randomized, controlled study presented at the 2002 American Academy of Otolaryngology, researchers found that reflexology and nasal irrigation procedures improved chronic sinusitis in 150 patients.

9. Circulation: Foot reflexology massage is also known to improve blood circulation in the feet and throughout the body. Gently stroking the feet, fingers, and hands will significantly improve blood flow to the vital organs. Blood will deliver nutrients and oxygen to your organs, thereby nourishing your body tissues. A foot reflexology massage before bed can improve circulation in the lower extremities.

10. Eliminates toxins: Toxins are everywhere these days from processed foods to cosmetics. That is why it is important to have a healthy urinary system. Reflexology has effectively reduced urinary tract issues and improved bladder function. Basically, reflexology can efficiently eliminate toxins from the body and protect the body from various conditions that result from an impaired urinary system.

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Foot reflexology massage can also help treat symptoms of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), kidney stones, constipation, backaches and restless leg syndrome. The therapy can also improve memory, manage diabetic neuropathy and ease symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Foot Reflexology Precautions

Although reflexology is very effective, there are reflexology precautions to consider. People with certain health conditions such as varicose veins, ingrown toenails, extreme edema, bruises, cuts, foot fractures, athlete’s foot, and infections or sores should avoid foot reflexology massages. The reflexologist will likely ask you about your current health problems before you schedule an appointment.

What Else Should You Know About Foot Reflexology?

What else should you know about foot reflexology massages, especially if you are new to the practice? On average, a foot reflexology massage will cost about $30 for a one hour session. There are also certain principles associated with reflexology:

  • A reflexologist does not heal the client; however, they help the body repair itself.
  • Reflexology recognizes all aspects of a person’s wellbeing, including the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual parts of health.
  • The reflexologist and client may feel the energy from the ears, hands, or feet move throughout the body.
  • Aromatherapy with essential oils may also complement a foot reflexology massage session.

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Sources for Today’s Article:
Hodgekiss, A., “Reflexology may be as effective as painkillers for conditions such as back ache and arthritis,” DailyMail web site, April 9, 2013; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2306227/Reflexology-effective-painkillers-conditions-ache-arthritis.html.
Park, H.S., et al., “[Effects of foot reflexology on essential hypertension patients],” Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 2004; 34(5): 739-750.
Song, H.J., et al., “Self-administered foot reflexology for the management of chronic health conditions: a systematic review,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2015; 21(2): 69-76, doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0166.Epub, January 30, 2015.
“What Does the Research Say about Reflexology?” University of Minnesota web site; http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology/what-does-research-say-about-refloxology, last accessed December 4, 2015.
Nazari, F., et al., “Comparing the effects of reflexology and relaxation on fatigue in women with multiple sclerosis,” Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, 2015; 20(2): 200-204.
Yadev, V., et al., “Summary of evidence-based guideline: complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis: report of the guideline development subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology,” Neurology, 2014; 82(12): 1083-1092, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000250.
“Benefits of Reflexology,” Organic Facts web site; https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/benefits-of-reflexology.html, last accessed December 4, 2015.
“How Does Reflexology Work?” University of Minnesota web site; http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology/how-does-reflexology-work, last accessed December 4, 2015.
“What is reflexology?” University of Minnesota web site; http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology, last accessed December 4, 2015.

FAQs

10 Health Benefits of Foot Reflexology? ›

Here are the top 10 health benefits of foot massage and reflexology.
  • Promotes Better Sleep. ...
  • Improves Blood Circulation. ...
  • Helps You Relax. ...
  • Fights Depression. ...
  • Relieves Aches and Pains. ...
  • Makes Feet Healthier. ...
  • Alleviates Edema. ...
  • Eases PMS and Menopause Symptoms.
Aug 23, 2020

What are the 11 benefits of reflexology? ›

The benefits of reflexology include its ability to stimulate nerve function, increase energy, boost circulation, induce a deep state of relaxation, eliminate toxins, stimulate the central nervous system, prevent migraines, clean up urinary tract conditions, speed-up recovery after injury or surgery, help relieve sleep ...

What are the benefits of foot reflexology? ›

Pain relief, nerve stimulation, blood flow, migraine relief, and so much more can be achieved through reflexology. And in the absence of abnormalities, reflexology may be as effective for promoting better health and preventing illness, as it may be for relieving the symptoms of stress, injury and improving your mood.

What illnesses can reflexology treat? ›

What does reflexology do? Although reflexology is not used to diagnose or cure disease, millions of people around the world use it to complement other treatments when addressing conditions like anxiety, asthma, cancer treatment, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, headaches, kidney function, PMS, and sinusitis.

Can reflexology release toxins? ›

Reflexology can remove some toxic substances from the body very quickly. If they are not released fast enough, or if the treatment is overdone, one can experience some mild toxic effect that usually disappears quickly.

Can reflexology detect illness? ›

Like those other therapies, though, reflexology is complementary to medical treatments. It can be done alongside traditional care, but it's not an alternative to it, and reflexologists don't diagnose or treat illnesses.

What organs are connected to your feet? ›

Reflex areas of central organs such as the spinal column and stomach are in both feet; the organs on the right side of the body (e.g. the liver) are on the right foot, those on the left side (e.g. the spleen) are on the left foot; lungs and kidneys are on both feet; the toes correspond with the brain and its organs.

Why should you massage your feet before bed? ›

Foot massage just before you go to bed can help you sleep better by improving blood circulation, relaxing the nerves, and allowing the body to unwind. Restful sleep is encouraged from as little as four minutes on each foot.

Does foot reflexology really work? ›

Several studies indicate that reflexology may reduce pain and psychological symptoms, such as stress and anxiety, and enhance relaxation and sleep. Given that reflexology is also low risk, it can be a reasonable option if you're seeking relaxation and stress relief.

Why do you need to drink water after reflexology? ›

The more tension that is released during the massage, the more metabolic waste is released into your system. By drinking lots of water, we are helping our kidneys to effectively drain out this 'waste'. So drink up, and pee out those toxins.

What happens to your body after reflexology? ›

Reflexology triggers relaxation, resulting in reduced levels of stress and tension. This practice is also helpful in increasing blood flow and circulation throughout the body. While reflexology should not be used as a replacement for medical therapy, it can nicely complement your ongoing medical treatments.

What happens after foot reflexology? ›

How Will You Feel After Your Treatment? Different reactions following the reflexology session are normal. You may experience increased energy, relief from pain or other symptoms, tiredness, increased mucus, enhanced sleep, and heightened emotions.

Can reflexology heal you? ›

Reflexologists do not heal clients; the body repairs itself. The reflexologist acknowledges that he or she is a participant in the session, rather than "the healer." This is an acknowledgement that reflexology is offered to help bring the person back into balance so that the body can nurture and repair itself.

What does it mean when a reflexology point hurts? ›

Reflexology will often hurt when the congested reflex areas are treated and in no way resembles a foot massage. As the condition improves with several reflexology sessions, so will the soreness on the corresponding reflexes.

When should you not have reflexology? ›

Patients with foot fractures, unhealed wounds, or active gout in the foot should avoid reflexology. Patients with osteoarthritis that impacts the foot or ankle, or those with vascular disease of the legs or feet, should consult with their primary provider prior to beginning reflexology on the feet.

How often should you do foot reflexology? ›

If you are dealing with a specific illness or condition, you may need to have more frequent sessions. A general recommendation might be to begin with a session every week for 6-8 weeks, followed by a "tune-up" every four weeks.

What are the disadvantages of reflexology? ›

Some people also report having mild side effects after reflexology treatment, including: lightheadedness. tender feet. emotional sensitivity.

Can reflexology help lose weight? ›

So to answer everybody's question on can reflexology help with weight loss, the answer is yes. It can aid a weight loss program you are on, but if you are not exercising regularly and eating a healthy balanced diet then no amount of reflexology is going to get you to the weight you want.

Does reflexology make you pee more? ›

Our body makes toxins too, such as urine. Some people report that after a reflexology session, they urinate more, a sign that the stimulation of the body has led to the purging of toxins n the system. People seek out treatments for all kinds of reasons and when they find it works, are happy to talk about its benefits.

What happens when you don't drink water after a massage? ›

When your head, neck and shoulders have been massaged it stimulates the lymphatic system, which in turn drives out toxins. This means water is essential to flush out the toxins, so if you don't drink water after a massage, you can sometimes experience a slight headache.

What is the difference between reflexology and Reiki? ›

The practitioner is actually a conduit for the energy. Reiki means universal energy, so it's energy from the universe. Reflexology looks at the hands and the feet as the windows to the body. And, for example, what reflexology -- when a reflexologist looks at the soles of the feet, they actually see the entire body.

Why do I feel so tired after reflexology? ›

Reflexology aims to return the body to its natural state of wellbeing and balance and a big element of it is to eliminate toxins from the body. Due to this after a reflexology treatment you could feel tired, sweaty and in certain cases even experience diarrehea as your body eliminates toxins from your body.

What is a healing crisis after reflexology? ›

Adverse effects after undergoing complementary and alternative therapies (CAT) are often referred to as healing crisis. Healing crises is said to happen frequently during and immediately following treatment as localized or distal pain, perspiration or shivering, changes in the heart rate, respiration or temperature.

Why does squeezing feet feel good? ›

Foot massage improves circulation, stimulates muscles, reduces tension, and often eases pain. It also gives you a chance to check out your feet so you can get a jump on treating blisters, bunions, corns, and toenail problems.

What should I do before reflexology? ›

You will never be asked to undress for reflexology. The only clothing to be removed is socks or tights and your shoes. It is best to wear loose comfortable clothing so that you feel relaxed. At the start of your first session, a professional practitioner will conduct a thorough health, diet and lifestyle consultation.

Is it normal to feel sick after reflexology? ›

Hours Or Days After Massage

While it's certainly not everyone's experience, massage therapists say nausea and other flu-like symptoms can come up – no pun intended — as a common side effect of massage in the hours and days that follow.

How long should a foot massage last? ›

Many models automatically shut off at 15 minutes, though you may be able to adjust the length of your massage up to 30 minutes. Manufacturers generally recommend a maximum massage duration of 30 minutes.

Can reflexology give you energy? ›

Reflexology has long been used to increase energy, reduce stress and boost circulation. When pressure is applied to these points it stimulates movement of energy along the nerve channels, working to restore balance in the whole body.

Is reflexology good for arthritis? ›

As a standalone therapy

This would indicate that reflexology is an effective 'painkiller' and therefore a useful treatment for a condition such as arthritis. It's not just with pain relief that it can help, it is also effective to improve sleep, improve circulation and reduce stress levels.

Where is the bowel in reflexology? ›

There are also reflex areas on the sides and tops of the feet – not shown here. As you can see, the digestive area occupies a large section in the main body of the feet from the top of the arches right down to the heels. Shown here are stomach and liver, then below them the small and large intestines.

What pressure point makes you fall asleep instantly? ›

The Anmian point is found just below the ear, where the neck and jaw line connect. It should be held for 15 to 20 minutes with the index and middle finger, to bring on deep and restful sleep.

What does the second toe represent in reflexology? ›

The point on the inner toe corresponds to the liver. The second toe contains a meridian point on the left side. This corresponds to the middle of the stomach. The fourth toe contains a meridian point on the left side that connects to the gallbladder.

Can reflexology help with bowel problems? ›

Luckily, reflexology can help! Constipation can be improved by using a finger walking technique through the small and large intestines, clearing any blockages in the process and 'waking up' the body's digestion.

Can you have reflexology everyday? ›

So reflexology can be added to the package as a maintainable for the body's immune system. Regular exercise each week along with good nutritional content on a daily basis. I would recommend one reflexology treatment a week, but it depends on what condition if any you have, or is it purely for relaxing.

Is reflexology a hoax? ›

There is no convincing scientific evidence that reflexology is effective for any medical condition.

How long does it take reflexology to work? ›

The effects of reflexology are unique to the individual. While some will experience a sense of relaxation and well-being, others find it to be quite energizing. Your body's response to the treatment could be instantaneous, however, most people usually notice the full benefits after 4-6 sessions.

Can reflexology help lose weight? ›

So to answer everybody's question on can reflexology help with weight loss, the answer is yes. It can aid a weight loss program you are on, but if you are not exercising regularly and eating a healthy balanced diet then no amount of reflexology is going to get you to the weight you want.

Does reflexology increase blood flow? ›

Boost Blood Circulation

Reflexology can improve your circulation. This means oxygen and nutrients will move around your body quicker. Resulting in a healthier and more physically efficient version of you. You'll be more likely to be physically fitter because oxygen can get to your muscles quicker, for example.

Can reflexology give you energy? ›

Reflexology has long been used to increase energy, reduce stress and boost circulation. When pressure is applied to these points it stimulates movement of energy along the nerve channels, working to restore balance in the whole body.

Why do you need to drink water after reflexology? ›

The more tension that is released during the massage, the more metabolic waste is released into your system. By drinking lots of water, we are helping our kidneys to effectively drain out this 'waste'. So drink up, and pee out those toxins.

Why should you massage your feet before bed? ›

Foot massage just before you go to bed can help you sleep better by improving blood circulation, relaxing the nerves, and allowing the body to unwind. Restful sleep is encouraged from as little as four minutes on each foot.

What does it mean when a reflexology point hurts? ›

Reflexology will often hurt when the congested reflex areas are treated and in no way resembles a foot massage. As the condition improves with several reflexology sessions, so will the soreness on the corresponding reflexes.

Can a foot massage make you poop? ›

Foot massages, also known as reflexology, may be used to treat constipation. Research from 2003 found that children with constipation showed symptom improvements after receiving reflexology.

Where is the pressure point for weight loss? ›

Apply gentle pressure on the space between your upper lip and nose (philtrum). Make sure to apply moderate pressure right in the centre of the philtrum. This pressure point is known as the shuigou spot. You can also massage this spot in a circular motion for 2-3 minutes every day to stimulate metabolism.

How often should you do foot reflexology? ›

If you are dealing with a specific illness or condition, you may need to have more frequent sessions. A general recommendation might be to begin with a session every week for 6-8 weeks, followed by a "tune-up" every four weeks.

What organs are connected to the foot? ›

Reflex areas of central organs such as the spinal column and stomach are in both feet; the organs on the right side of the body (e.g. the liver) are on the right foot, those on the left side (e.g. the spleen) are on the left foot; lungs and kidneys are on both feet; the toes correspond with the brain and its organs.

Can reflexology help eyesight? ›

Acupressure points around the eyes are particularly beneficial for eye-related problems. By applying pressure around these acupressure points, we can relieve pain and eye ailments by relaxing the eye muscles and increasing the flow of blood to the eye area.

Is it good to massage your feet everyday? ›

Just like your neck, back, and shoulders, your feet can also benefit from a regular rubdown. Foot massage improves circulation, stimulates muscles, reduces tension, and often eases pain. It also gives you a chance to check out your feet so you can get a jump on treating blisters, bunions, corns, and toenail problems.

What are the disadvantages of reflexology? ›

Some people also report having mild side effects after reflexology treatment, including: lightheadedness. tender feet. emotional sensitivity.

Can I do reflexology on myself? ›

A simple reflexology massage can be all it takes to get your mind and body back on track. But you don't necessarily have to book in for a full treatment – although if you have the time and the funds to spare we can't recommend enough – you can give yourself a DIY massage at home.

Is reflexology good for arthritis? ›

As a standalone therapy

This would indicate that reflexology is an effective 'painkiller' and therefore a useful treatment for a condition such as arthritis. It's not just with pain relief that it can help, it is also effective to improve sleep, improve circulation and reduce stress levels.

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