An Introduction to Reflexology

November 24, 2008

Reflexology is a gift you can give yourself and someone else,” says Betty Burke, RN, certified reflexologist at Shore Memorial Hospital.

Reflexology—the physical act of massage and gentle pressure on the feet or hands—can help reduce stress and promote healing. It is based on the principle that there are 10 energy zones on the hands or feet that correspond with the rest of the body. The zones extend the length of the body from head to toe and are completely balanced with five zones resting on the left side and five zones on the right. All organs and parts of the body lie along one or more of these zones.

Since the feet are the farthest from the heart, they are the areas of the body where circulation is most stagnant. For people with poor circulation, they often have tender or swollen feet or hands. Using reflexology can increase circulation, providing more oxygen to the feet and throughout the body.

“The only time we tend to think of our feet is when they start to hurt. Your feet carry the weight of your world everyday, including all the stress and tension your body feels. There is no part of the body that doesn’t have a relationship with another part of the body. Think of reflexology as a way to support yourself a bit,” Burke says.

When offering reflexology to others, Burke stresses a few key points. The very young or very old benefit from short sessions. For example, reflexology can be very effective for colicky babies, but the practitioner need only spend a few minutes on a tiny infant’s feet. For the older more fragile adult, sessions are limited to 15 or 20 minutes. Practitioners need to be cautious of inflammation or sensitive areas in the feet. The goal is to relax the individual, not cause pain or discomfort.

“Our society is generally touch deprived. We use technology to do so many things that it keeps us isolated. Just the physical act of gentle touch itself can be healing,” says Burke.

Burke also provides foot reflexology sessions one day per month at the Shore Memorial Cancer Center to individuals undergoing cancer treatment. Each session lasts 45 minutes and takes place in a relaxing location overlooking the bay. To schedule a session call the Cancer Center at (609) 653-3585.