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An Introduction To Foot Reflexology –What Is Reflexology? How Does It Work? How Does It Benefit My Health?

Written by: Laura Mazzucato, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Laura Mazzucato

Since I started practicing as a reflexologist, I have realised that reflexology is not a well-known therapy. People have either never heard about it, or they believe it to be a simple foot massage. Reflexology is much more than that and deserves to be recognized as such. The most common questions I have been asked are: What is reflexology? How does it work? How does it benefit my health? I am delighted to have this new opportunity to give some answers. I hope this gives you a better understanding and a desire to give reflexology a try.

Person massaging foot

1. Reflex-ology

Foot reflexology is a gentle, relaxing, holistic & complementary therapy which is based on the theory that the feet act as a mirror, showing a map of the body’s systems (digestive, respiratory, reproductive, muscular, skeletal, urinary, lymphatic, circulatory, and hormonal systems). Each part of the body (organ, hormonal gland, tissue...) is reflected on specific areas of the feet, which are called reflex zones or Reflex points. By applying a specific type of pressure and massage on a reflex zone, the reflexologist stimulates and affects the organ, gland, or tissue to which this area is connected. 

It is known that a reflex is an involuntary, unconscious, automatic, and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus. Thus, as a reflexologist, we believe that the manipulation of a reflex zone triggers a response which results in self-regulation of the corresponding area of the body.

2. The nervous system

Currently, there are few scientific studies on how reflexology works due to a lack of funding and interest to finance them.

It is thought that reflexology works through the autonomic nervous system, which functions automatically (beyond our consciousness) to control and regulate processes that our body needs to survive such as breathing, heartbeat, and so on.

It is not necessary then to «believe» in reflexology, as it works at an unconscious level. 

There are approximately 7,000 nerve endings found on each foot. These nerves run through the whole body and transmit signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Many mechanical receptors exist on the soles of the feet as well, which

3. Zone concept

Reflexology is based on the theory that the body is divided into 10 vertical zones (each finger and toe is part of one zone), and 4 horizontal zones divided by 3 horizontal lines (according to the shoulder, diaphragm, & pelvis). Working on a part of one zone will affect the whole zone, thus all systems are connected and work together.

Based on that concept, reflexologists understand that if there is an imbalance in a specific area of the body, they need to work on the entire zone to which it belongs to restore balance. It is important to note that the source of a disease may not necessarily come from the area where the symptoms are felt by the client. For instance, a headache could come from a digestive problem, though the client feels the pain in their head. Therefore, working on the digestive system can help to release this kind of head tension.

4. Holistic approach

The word ‘holistic’ comes from the Greek word ‘holos’ meaning ‘entire’ or ‘all’.Reflexology is a therapy that looks at the whole person. When I treat my clients, I focus not only on the symptoms, the disability, or the pathology, but also to treat the area from which the issues have developed. I also take into consideration the five aspects of health: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual. In reflexology we don’t treat the sickness, but the person who is sick. 

This leads to a broader concept of care in which a client's holistic needs must be met to enhance the benefits of reflexology treatments and to maximize health and well-being.

5. Individual basis

Reflexology works on an individual basis. Each client has their own detoxification process and can respond differently to the same treatment.

The responses from the body can be positive (in the form of more energy, less pain, etc.) or negative (feeling lethargic, more pain, nausea, tearful, etc.). Do not worry, the latter are transitory; these self-regulation mechanisms are part of the healing process.

After each session, I adjust my treatment plan according to what the feet have told me and what the client felt during and after the session. Each treatment plan is structured to address the specific needs of the client while maximising the benefits of the treatment (for example, which reflex point I will focus on and work the most, what pressure I will apply, what technique I will use, how many sessions are required, and so on).

Each treatment is unique, as is each one of us. Each foot tells its own story.

6. The power of intention

To provide the most efficient treatment to my clients, I make sure to create the best treatment plan possible to address their health concerns. And, I always set an intention: better health, well-being, and homeostasis.

The purpose of reflexology and the intention behind it is never to «save» the client nor to assure their complete healing; the intention is to send, through a reflex touch, a message to the body to activate its own regulation to maximise balance and well-being. As reflexology talks to the autonomic (the ‘involuntary’) nervous system, the unconscious system of the client is free to respond or not to the impulse sent. Sometimes it may even take several sessions before receiving a positive response. 

This is why pretending to «save» the client from all their pain will only put conscious pressure on the client and the therapist, especially if results are not occurring quickly. Reflexologists are not responsible for the client’s health; we are here to support, to help, and to do our best!


7. The benefits

Reflexology is excellent for treating a wide range of issues, both chronic and acute, as it communicates with and connects to all of the body’s systems. Reflexology treatment can be used for women’s health (fertility, maternity, PMS, and menopausal symptoms), allergies, digestive troubles, stress, pain, inflammation, asthma, recovery after injury, muscular tensions, and so on. It can basically help for any type of health condition.

The observation and especially the manipulation of the reflex zones give me information about the health and functioning of the corresponding systems.

Working on the zones that I consider imbalanced and which are painful for the client enhances relaxation, energizes, detoxifies, and increases lymphatic, blood & nervous circulation. It also helps reduce congestion within the systems, enabling circulation and good function of the organs, glands, and tissues.

Foot Reflexology is an amazingly efficient therapy that gives you the key to unlock inherent well-being and homeostasis. For this new year 2024, if you are keen to start your healing journey, try Reflexology! 

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Laura Mazzucato Brainz Magazine

Laura Mazzucato, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Laura Mazzucato is a reflexologist specialising in women's health, stress & anxiety management. After spending more than 15 years in a high stress professional career, Laura reached a point of emotional and physical exhaustion which led her to the path of Holistic therapy. This was instrumental in her decision to change career paths; after attending her first reflexology treatment, she finally realised her true calling. Since then, Laura has been passionate about reflexology and amazed by its power on the body. She regularly attends trainings and workshops in order to enhance her skills and knowledge, and to maximise the benefits of treatments for her clients’ health.Her motto: Make Your Health Your Priority!



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