Reflexology is a spa treatment where the therapist works on "reflex points" on your feet, hands, and head (especially ears). The theory behind reflexology is that these reflex points relate to specific organs and glands in the body, and stimulating those points with finger pressure promotes health in those organs and glands via the body's energetic pathways.
When done by a skilled practitioner, reflexology is a deeply relaxing treatment with benefits that can be felt throughout the body. The therapist will use various techniques that include holds, finger pressure, kneading, rotation and rubbing.
The best therapists also include hands and feet as part of the reflexology treatment, and you should feel an effect through the entire body. If the therapist is less skilled or inadequately trained, you'll just feel like you've had a very long foot massage.
What You Need To Know About Reflexology
Reflexology can be a good treatment choice for people who want to keep their clothes on during a massage. It is also a good choice if you are pressed for time and don't want to get oil on your body or in your hair.
You should ask what kind of specific training or certification the therapist has in reflexology. Any massage therapist or esthetician, who are both licensed to work on the body, can legally give you "reflexology" even though they've had minimal training. It's better to get reflexology from someone who has been though a specific reflexology training and certification program.
Reflexology was first developed in the United States in the early 20th century, and was called "zonal therapy" in its earliest incarnations. It is based on the theory that the body is divided into ten zones running longitudinally from head to toe -- five on each side of the body. Practitioners believe that pressure on reflex points on the foot or hand will affect body organs in the same zone.
In recent years, reflexology practitioners have begun to incorporate the acupressure techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) into their work. Although reflexology is based on the theory of "zones" instead of T.C.M.'s theory of "meridians" or energy pathways, both treatments are based on the principle that working on specific points can bring about a therapeutic effect in other parts of the body.