Reflexology is a four theory approach of applying acupressure to the feet in order to promote healing. This includes structural alignment, zones, meridians and psychoneuroimmunology theories. By considering four different theories, we are honoring the complexity of the human body in several approaches. Foot reflexology is a map on the feet, of the entire body. Each point represents a different part of the body and it’s symbolism. The benefits are: decreased stress, increased circulation and more flexibility in the joints of the feet.
Structural Alignment Theory
Structural Alignment Theory serves to explain the physical component of reflexology and how physical manipulation in the feet can create physical changes in the rest of the body. This includes gait pattern, how the feet affect posture, how the fascia system connects everything in the body, and the three arches of the foot. Do you pronate or sink in your medial arch? How will this action affect the body? The type of shoes we wear is also an indicator of how the body posture changes.
Zone Theory is the idea that the body can be mapped out into different zones. If you draw longitudinal lines across your body from head to toe you will have 4 zones going up and down. Then splitting the bottom of the foot into 4 horizontal zones and seeing which area of the body crosses over the other. This helps determine the location of the body that correlates with that zone of the foot. For example if you tend to walk on the later side of your foot it will affect the lateral side of your body, but if you put more pressure on heel strike more often, this zone represents pelvic and leg issues. So for that gait pattern it indicated you likely have lateral hip, knee and ankle tension or pain.
Meridian Theory is where the Eastern influence meets the Western practice of reflexology. There are a set of points and pathways throughout the body based on Chinese Medicine. The belief is that certain points on the feet correlate with different organs and systems of the body. Coincidentally, the points also match the coordinates for Zone theory. This theory uses organs of the body and elements of the earth to symbolize many things. A meridian is an invisible channel through which Chi (life force energy) flows throughout the body.
An example, is that the kidneys hold water. In Chinese medicine the water element represents “canal people”. Picture a dam holding water back from overflowing a canal. When things are not going well, their levy will break. People with an imbalance on the kidney point, could be feeling overwhelmed, guarded or even fearful. This element also represents the sound of groaning and the winter season. There are five elements in Chinese medicine and two organs that go with each element. The meridian points can tell you a lot about a person.
The last of the four theories is Psychoneuroimmunology theory which is based on the connection between the nervous system, immune system and the emotions. It is commonly agreed upon by the scientific community that there is a direct relationship between stress and disease. Many of us believe that we know how to relax, but the reality is that our bodies no longer remember how to fully relax into a state that allows for healing to take place. Psychoneuroimmunology investigates the interaction between the brain, the nervous system and the immune system. This is the mind- body connection that shows evidence that stress affects both the brain chemistry and function of our immune system. Reflexology stimulates this system through the feet.
Reflexology is a fully clothed 30min foot massage utilizing the four theories of structural alignment, zones, meridians and psychneuroimmunology. Expect to feel less stress, more flexibility in your feet and gain new knowledge of your body. Clients who really enjoy this style of massage are people who stand on their feet a lot, have plantar fasciitis, diabetics with poor foot circulation, athletes wanting to gain insight on their gait pattern, or any person who would enjoy the relaxing benefits of a 30min foot massage.
This modality can also be booked in combination with a 60minutes full body massage. During a 90 minute session of 30min foot reflexology plus 60minutes of full body, I can tell if the tension in your feet matches the rest of your body. You can book a reflexology session with me by clicking HERE! To take a fun quiz to find out which Chinese Element you are most dominant in, click HERE!
If you are a massage therapist who would love to learn the art of reflexology, I encourage you to sign up for a course with Claire Marie Miller.