What Is Reflexology?
Reflexology is an alternative, non-conventional treatment given by a reflexologist. According to the Reflexology Association of America, "It can be used with any medical or alternative therapy, or it can stand alone as an effective health maintenance technique. It is the systematic, manual stimulation of the reflex maps located on the feet, hands and outer ears that resemble the shape of a human body. Pressure is applied using thumbs and fingers in small movements to stimulate an area far removed from the reflex point. It is believed to work through the nervous and subtle energy systems of the body."
The History of Reflexology
Reflexology was initially practiced by Indians, Chinese, and Egyptians in ancient times. William Fitzgerald, M.D., introduced reflexology to the west in 1913. Based on his knowledge that applying pressure to specific parts of the body could affect other related areas, he divided the body into 10 equal, vertical zones. Dr. Fitzgerald theorized that applying pressure on part of a zone could affect everything within the same zone.
The Theory Behind Reflexology
Reflexology is based on the theory that the body is capable of healing itself. With a chronic illness like osteoarthritis, the body is in a state of "imbalance." Not only that, vital energy pathways are blocked, causing the body to function less effectively. Reflexology is believed to work with the body’s systems to improve function.
What You Should Do If Interested in Trying Reflexology?
Look for a reflexologist who has received instruction and certification at the 200 hour level. Many reflexologists are Board Certified through American Reflexology Certification Board, the national, nonprofit testing agency for Reflexology in the United States. To find a certified reflexologist near you, check this list.
Talk to Your Doctor
It's always wise to discuss a treatment you want to try with your doctor. Seek his advice so you will know his opinion. It would be ill-advised to stop your current treatment regimen when beginning reflexology. Be sure your doctor feels there is no harm in trying it, even if there are also no guarantees. The effectiveness of reflexology for the treatment of osteoarthritis has not been well-studied.
Reflexology Articles. Reflexology Association of America. Accessed July 18, 2009.