Surprising foot reflexology methods that can improve your health

Foot reflexology is a blessing. You just do not realize it yet.

If you think about it, the way we look at health and wellness is somewhat limited.

Is your tummy feeling a little queasy? Pop a pill.

Are you suffering from a headache? Take another pill.

Feeling under the weather? There are tablets for that.

The average person will take 40,000 pills in his or her lifetime.

pills and tablets

Image: CC0 by stevepb via Pixabay, altered

You get the idea.

For every illness we have, our first line of defense is to take some sort of medicine. In short, we are willingly putting chemicals into our body.

To be fair, a lot of these are going to do you good, some of them are necessary, too.

A friend of mine laments, “When we are born, we are 60 percent water. When we reach adulthood, that changes to only 10 percent water and 50% pharmaceuticals.”

But, what if they aren’t your only option?

You know what Abraham Maslow said about having only a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. Most of us rely on drugs when we get sick because it’s all we know.

wood nails and hammer

Image: CC0 by Bartek Wojtas via Pexels

Stick around; we will help you see that foot reflexology might be your new best friend when it comes to your health.

First Things First: What is Foot Reflexology?

Foot reflexology is a treatment that involves applying pressure to particular locations on the feet to energize or treat another part of the body.

foot reflexology

Image: CC0 by andreas160578 via Pixabay, altered

As such, it is just a study of how different parts of the body are interconnected.

Reflexology is also considered as a complementary therapy. It is not an alternative treatment.

Confused? This video will explain the difference between the two:

  History: Who Came Up With This Wonderful Thing?

Reflexology has its roots in ancient history. Reflexology has been seen in different cultures. Including Ancient Egypt and China, among others.

foot reflexology in ancient times

It is unclear, however, where it first originated.

On top of that:

It was also practiced in Europe as early as the late 14th century, where it is called “zone therapy.” Dr. William Fitzgerald brought the practice to the United States. Fitzgerald is considered to be the Father of Modern Reflexology.

William Fitzgerald brought reflexology to the United States.

Early researchers in this field include Dr. Joe Shelby Riley and Eunice Ingham. They both have significant contributions to the study and use of reflexology. These two also helped people become aware of and understand the practice.

Where did that name come from? Vladimir Bekhterev coined the term “reflexology” in 1917.

It’s all connected

In foot reflexology, areas and points on your feet correspond to other parts of your body. Reflexologists will press on a particular location on your feet to provide relief elsewhere in the body.

For instance:

It’s believed that the big toe is connected to the neck and head areas.

There are at least 7,000 nerve endings that you can find on the human foot.

In short, there are enough points to confuse even oldtimers.

For this reason:

There are reflexology maps that you can consult. These maps detail which part of your body is affected by a particular pressure spot.

A reflexology map shows all the different points on the feet. It also shows the corresponding body part that they affect.

foot reflexology chart

Image via Alamy

Each foot also represents the same half of your body. For instance, the left foot corresponds to the left side of your body. The heart is on the left side of your body, so the corresponding reflexology point is found on the left foot.

The ordering of these points also follows that of your body. The toes connect to your head, while the heels are linked to the lower parts of your body such as the feet and the pelvis.

Did you know that reflexology can dull the sensation of pain? Some people have said that it is as effective as painkillers.

Reflexology points that are closer to the toes mean that it affects body parts that are close to the head.

If you want to learn how to read a foot reflexology chart, then check this out:

Two types of foot reflexology

There are two methods used in foot reflexology. The first is called the Ingham method. The practitioner relies on his or her hands and fingers in massaging. No tools are used here.

ingham method foot reflexology

The second is the Rwo Shur. This method uses a wooden stick and other instruments

rwo shur method

Image: by HeikeFrohnhoff via Pixabay

Understanding How it Works

Foot reflexology sounds simple enough, in that to heal somebody, all you need to do is to put pressure on their feet.

Here’s the bad news:

It’s not that as easy as it sounds.

The theories behind foot reflexology

Several theories try to explain why foot reflexology works.

Some theories hold that electromagnetic fields help two body parts “talk” to each other. Over time, these points of communication can become blocked, and reflexology helps to remove that blockage.


Further, some people believe that foot reflexology can also restore proper energy flow. In effect, it can facilitate the proper functioning of the different organs of the body.

And others suggest:

Foot reflexology can break up the lactic acid crystals. This process allows the energy to flow smoothly.

via Giphy

The exact mechanism of how foot reflexology works are not that clear yet. But the fact remains that it has helped ease the symptoms of some diseases.

What diseases are helped by foot reflexology?

Stay put; we will get to that later on.

What It Is Not

Foot reflexology is often confused with or compared to other therapies, such as a foot massage and acupuncture.

That’s because of the similarities with how they are done or the principles behind them.

However, foot reflexology is not a massage, nor is it acupuncture.


The main distinction between a foot massage and foot reflexology is pretty easy.

Foot massage is excellent for relaxation.

Foot reflexology is not a foot massage. They may look like it’s done similarly, but the effects of one are different from the other.

foot reflexology

Image: by Milius007 via Pixabay

Meanwhile, foot reflexology allows you to address specific ailments and conditions.

Massage targets an entire muscle group, reflexology concentrates only on one trigger point.


Acupuncture and reflexology follow the same principle: everything in your body is interconnected. However, reflexology is not invasive, unlike acupuncture.

What You Should Expect

Is it painful?

If you are like us, that is probably the first question you will ask from a reflexologist.

More importantly, does it really — swear to the heavens — hurt like this?

We have the answer. But let us take you through the things that you can expect from a reflexology session.

But before we talk about the therapy, how much do you need? You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $120 per session.

That’s a lot less than many treatments out there.

Before the session

Once you arrive, the reflexologist will talk to you about your health and medical history. This step will help the practitioner know if foot reflexology will be beneficial to you or not.

Like a visit to the doctor, a foot reflexology session starts with the practitioner getting your medical history and discussing your health with you.


Image: by via Pexels

The practitioner will also tell you how it works, as well as other things that you can expect.

And that’s not all:

He or she will also tell you that foot reflexology is not a substitute for medical treatment. Further, it does not cure any specific illnesses.

During the session

Foot reflexology is only one of the things that your reflexologist can do. They may opt to work on your ears or hands.

For foot reflexology, you can lie down or sit, with the soles of your feet facing the reflexologies.

Here’s some good news:

You don’t have to remove your clothes.

feet and red shoe

The reflexologist will check your feet to see if there are any skin problems or open wounds.

One session typically lasts around 30 to 60 minutes.

You might feel some pain when a reflexologist touches on a point that is blocked. The practitioner will apply pressure on that area to bring your body back to balance.

Speaking of pain:

But really, these reactions are entirely on the extreme side. In general, a foot reflexology session is very relaxing and therapeutic.

Here’s the thing:

Foot reflexology does not hurt that much. You will not spend the whole session kicking and screaming.

Expect a treatment session like the one you see here. Bonus, this video briefly touches on the history and some techniques used.

After the session

The reflexologist will end the treatment with a peaceful or calm gesture. That is intended to make you feel nurtured.

It is normal to fall asleep during a reflexology session. So, don’t feel the need to stand up and leave quickly.

Typical reactions to have within 48 hours after a foot reflexology session:

increased chart

Increased energy

enhance sleep

Enhanced sleep

relief from pain

Relief from pain

more movements around the joints

More movement around the joints



kidney stones

Kidney stones passed with ease

nasal discharge of mucus

Increased nasal or vaginal discharge of mucus

emotional or psychological release through crying

Emotional or psychological release through crying

Reactions that may occur due to the elimination of toxins

Skin rashes, pimples, or spotsFrequent bowel movements, even diarrhea


Instead, take your time to wake up and orient yourself. Once you are fully alert and comfortable, gather your things and leave.

The reflexologist may suggest drinking water and rest. He or she will also tell you to observe your body for anything out of the ordinary.

Ready To Be Impressed?

Foot reflexology makes sense as a treatment. Hear us out.

The calming effect is immediate. You usually find people who have foot reflexology asleep on the massage chair or bed.

foot reflexology

Sleep and relaxation are two of the effects of Reflexology. — Image: by OSTC via Pixabay

With stress being a significant factor in the development of diseases, foot reflexology can fight or reduce stress. It can also break repetitive stress that most of us experience in our daily lives.

Aside from stress, you can also minimize or do away with pain. Foot reflexology releases endorphins, the body’s pain reliever.

What’s more:

It’s not invasive the way acupuncture is. You also avoid taking medications and drugs.

Plus you can do it just about everywhere.

the whys of foot reflexology

What Can You Treat With It?

Because of reflexology’s long history, there has been a lot of studies on its effects. 

Here are some of the diseases that foot reflexology can manage or cure.

Stop your bellyaching…

Er…belly pain, actually. According to a study, 30 minutes of daily foot reflexology can treat severe abdominal pain.

It worked faster and better than those who were treated with atropine sulfate. The study was conducted by Chinese researchers.

Catching your breath

Seven studies have touched on the effectiveness of foot reflexology in helping people manage asthma.

And get this:

It was found that foot reflexology is beneficial in managing asthma in infants and children. It also helps in treating bronchial asthma.

Foot reflexology also helps minimize the number of episodes you have and prevent recurrence.

Surprising benefits to cancer patients

There are 14 studies that touched on foot reflexology and its effects on cancer patients.

It has been found that foot reflexology is very beneficial in helping cancer patients. 

Specifically, patients who suffer from pain and discomfort. Even those who are railing from the side effects of chemotherapy. It also helps to strengthen immunity while making wounds heal faster.

Other studies show:

It also helped patients manage toxic reactions after cancer treatments. Or in helping cancer patients with anxiety.

Gotta go… but can’t?

Foot reflexology has shown promise in the treatment of chronic constipation. It can help with similar conditions such as encopresis, abdominal gurgling, and colitis.

It also helps you empty your digestive track faster.

Dementia patients and how they benefit

Daily foot reflexology has shown promise in relieving the symptoms that you commonly see in people with dementia.

benefits of foot reflexology

Image: by via Pexels, altered

These symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • Dizziness
  • Slow reactions
  • And headaches, among others

It also helped in reducing stress among seniors.

Sweet benefits for diabetic patients

Foot reflexology lowers blood sugar levels, as well as regulating it.

It can also improve your pulse rate and makes you less tired. It is useful in dealing with neuropathy as well.

These effects are especially true when combined with medication. Further, it helps to relieve gangrene.


Foot reflexology is excellent when you are tired. It can also increase the amount and quality of sleep you get at night.

man feeling tired

Image: by Tim Gouw via Pexels, altered

Not only that:

It also helps with muscle soreness and transitional drowsiness.

Between the ears

Foot reflexology shows promise in curing tension headaches and migraines. Plus, it’s effective for acute, neurasthenia, and angioneurotic headaches.

It can be used together with magnetic therapy to relieve a severe frontal headache.

In fact:

Foot reflexology is so effective that it helped sufferers to minimize or stop taking headache medications.

What it can do for those with Multiple Sclerosis

Foot reflexology has the potential to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. That includes sensory, urinary, and motor problems.

Here’s how it supports women’s health…

Foot reflexology is effective in relieving:

Fascinating cure study results

There are some things that we wanted to highlight about foot reflexology that will probably surprise you.

A study on the effects of foot reflexology on facial palsy, the researches report a 100 percent effective rate and a 68 percent cured rate.

Further, only 15 percent of participants who had irritable bowel syndrome did not see any benefits from daily foot reflexology, which means 85 percent did.

Foot reflexology can also relieve toothaches.

It can also stop people from having hallucinations.

Attention teens:

If you are battling it out with zits, foot reflexology can help you win the war against pimples.

There are also reports that it can cure psoriasis.

Have trouble sleeping? Foot reflexology can help you kick insomnia and eventually throw away your sleeping pills.

And we don’t quit there:

You may be able to stop hiccups with foot reflexology.

The complete list you’re looking for:

The American Academy of Reflexology has collated all the studies conducted on foot reflexology. The effort makes it easier for you to get information on various diseases.

And we like easier.

Here is a list of 43 diseases and the number of studies that have been made investigating how effective foot reflexology is when treating them. The table also shows the number of studies made on each disease and the number of studies that were inconclusive.

Number of studies



Abdominal Pain 1 0
Addiction 2 0
Allergies 1 0
Arthritis 7 1
Asthma 7 2
Birthing pain 3 0
Cancer 14 1
Carbon monoxide poisoning 1 0
Cerebral palsy 2 0
Constipation 10 0
Dementia 3 0
Diabetes 12 1
Diarrhea 3 0
Epilepsy 3 0
Facial palsy 2 0
Fatigue 4 1
Gallbladder 8 2
Gout 3 0
Headaches 10 0
Heart and blood Pressure 8 0
Hepatitis B 1 0
Herpes zoster 2 0
Hypertension 5 0
Hysterectomy 1 0
Infertility 3 1
Irritable bowel syndrome 2 0
Lower back and sciatica 16 2
Lung diseases 6 0
Lupus 2 0
Male reproductive issues 2 0
Menopause 3 0
Premenstrual syndrome 14 1
Multiple sclerosis 4 0
Muscular dystrophy 1 0
Neurological conditions 5 1
Obesity 1 0
Parkinson’s 3 0
Respiratory Infections 3 0
Skin 11 0
Sleep and insomnia 4 0
Stomach pain and gastritis 9 0
Thyroid 3 0
Urinary issues 10 0

Source: Original table created from data collated from The American Academy of Reflexology.

But Wait, Are There Any Side Effects?

Foot reflexology is one of the safest treatments you can get today.


There are times when you should skip getting your feet poked.

Pregnant women beware

Generally, you should avoid foot reflexology because it can bring on contractions.


Leave the massage to the experts while pregnant. — Image: by Pixabay via Pexels

This piece of news might hit some women hard because it can help you with morning sickness, and heartburn.

It can even help mothers-to-be have a more enjoyable pregnancy because it can reduce swollen feet, as well as the stress, anxiety, tension, pain, irritability, fatigues, and other discomforts that are linked to pregnancy.

It can also help with headaches.


If you do decide to get a foot reflexology session, then you should be sure that you get a practitioner who has extensive experience working with pregnant women, as they can go easy on the ovarian and uterine reflex points.

Avoid reflexology if you have any of these:

You should not opt for foot reflexology if you have fractures, open wounds, gout, osteoarthritis and vascular diseases that affect the foot and ankles.

foot reflexology

Image: by Milius007 via Pixabay

But there’s an exception:

If this is the case, you can still get reflexology on your ears or hands.

Dangerous conditions

If you have embolism or thrombosis, diseases that are related to blood clotting, then you should avoid getting foot reflexology and any other types of deep massage.

aerial photography of cars on road

Image: by Joey Lu via Pexels, altered

Other side effects

People sometimes complain of being lightheaded or having tender feet after a reflexology treatment. There are also those who report that they are more emotionally sensitive after therapy.

Your Question Answered: Does It Really Work?

Some studies provide proof that foot reflexology does have positive effects on a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and dementia, among others.

complementary treatments doing foot reflexology

However, there are some warnings against the use of reflexology even in these instances.

And here’s some bad news:

A review of 23 studies showed that there is no convincing proof that reflexology is an effective treatment for any health condition. So, there are mixed results.

Like every complementary therapy, you need to speak to your doctor, and if it’s right for you then try it to see if it works for you: every body is different.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Your Therapist Has Some Mad Skills

Did you know that Tennessee and North Dakota requires reflexologists to have licenses?

Meanwhile, Washington State allows you to work as a reflexologist if you are certified with the state’s health department. Other cities and states have their own rules for practitioners.


Image: by Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay

The American Reflexology Certification Board has a national certification that they give to interested practitioners. You will need to have studied the body’s systems, anatomy, and physiology.

human skeleton

You should also know the history, theory, and practices of reflexology, as well as professional and business ethics.

via Giphy

On top of these topics:

You also need to have 100 hours of hands-on experience. There is also written and practical examinations. Plus, you need to submit 90 case studies.

They also need to pass a written examination.


Image: by eslfuntaiwan via Pixabay

645: The number of individual members of the Reflexology Association of America

Once you get certified, you will need to earn continuing education credits. Also, you should adhere to the code of conduct to maintain your certification.

General Warnings And Precautions When It Comes To Foot Reflexology

There seem to be no adverse reactions to foot reflexology.

That said:

You should remember that there are times when it may not be the right course of action for you.

Also, foot reflexology should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. For example, if you have diabetes, you should get your insulin shots rather than relying solely (no pun intended!) on reflexology.

Some Pretty Incredible Sources Of Information

By now, we are sure that you are itching to try foot reflexology out.

Either that or you want to learn more.

Don’t worry; there are a lot of resources for you to visit. For instance, you can check out the following websites.

  • American Commission for Reflexology Education and Training
  • American Reflexology Certification Board
  • Association of Reflexologists (United Kingdom)
  • International Council of Reflexologists
  • International Institute of Reflexology
  • Reflexology Association of America
  • The Association of Reflexologists (United Kingdom)
  • Books

    Or you can read the following books, to help you decide for yourself if foot reflexology is right for you.

    • Acupressure and Reflexology For Dummies by Bobbi Dempsey and Synthia Andrews
    • Better Health through Foot Reflexology (10th edition) by Dwight C. Byers
    • Press Here! Reflexology for Beginner by Stefanie Sabounchian and Emily Portnoi
    • Moving the Energy: Reflexology and Meridian Therapy by Lilian Tibshraeny-Morten
    • Reflexology: The Definitive Practitioner’s Manual by Beryl Crane
    • Reflexology for Beginners: Healing Through Foot Massage of Pressure Points by David Vennells
    • The Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology by Kevin Kunz and Barbara Kunz
    • The Everything Reflexology Book by Valerie Voner
    • The Joy of Reflexology by Ann Gillanders
    • The Reflexology Atlas by Bernard C. Kolster and Astrid Waskowiak

    Press Here, To End The Pain

    Before we end, let’s do a recap.

    It is not hard to preach about foot reflexology. An ancient way to heal your body, foot reflexology has been around for centuries.

    • It’s safe and non-invasive.
    • It can relieve pain, and address a wide range of health issues.
    • It’s a wonder why foot reflexology is not being recommended more.

    We can hear you asking: “But wait, I thought you said that there is no convincing proof that foot reflexology works in treating any disease?”

    That’s true, but…

    you cannot discount the fact that this complementary treatment has been around for so long. What’s more, a lot of people are attesting that it worked for them.

    Additionally, there have been studies proving that it works for a variety of diseases and health conditions.

    But the biggest reason why it is easy to recommend foot reflexology is:

    You won’t lose anything from trying it.

    At best, it can help you manage and fight whatever health problems you have right now. At the very least, foot reflexology will help you relax and be calmer.

    via Giphy

    As we said, it’s a win for you either way.

    Have you tried foot reflexology? How was it? Tell us about it in the comments!