The Science

Reflexology applies pressure to the feet, hands and head with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques. It is called a natural healing art, utilizing zones and reflection points. It has been shown to improve circulation, promote relaxation, and provide relief from migraines, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, sinus problems, stress, and other disorders.

Chinese reflexology is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which manipulates energy zones on the hands and feet to energize the body system and provide relief for a variety of ailments. Chinese reflexology is commonly referred to as foot massage by most Chinese people but they are referring to it in the context of TCM. It is more than simply rubbing the feet.

Chinese reflexology works on the principle that vital energy is channeled along various lines throughout the body, called zones or meridians. It was discovered that Chi, our life energy, circulates in the body along the meridians. There are 12 bi-lateral zones and each one of them is connected and reflects to a specific organ. That reflection to the organs is where we get the term reflexology.

With the connection and reflection of the meridians to a specific organ, there is also a related partner organ, which balances the yin and yang. The body is regulated by yin organs, which are dense, blood filled types of tissue. Yang organs are the hollow organs that are involved in absorption and discharge from the body. There is a constant interaction going on between these two forces. If the balance between the organs is somehow interrupted, the flow of Chi throughout the body is affected, resulting in ailment.

Due to the ailment, Chi (the vital energy pathways) in the body is blocked, preventing the body from functioning normally. Chinese reflexology helps unblock these pathways. Eliminating the toxins from the body and improving circulation contribute to restoring the balance between yin and yang forces, which in turn encourages healing and strengthens the body. 

In TCM the foot plays a vital role in restoring Chi. Each spot on the sole of the foot corresponds (reflects) to an internal organ. Chinese reflexology, then, concentrates mainly on the foot because an ailment of an internal organ is associated with the nerve ending on the sole of the foot. Manipulating the reflection point helps restore balance to the yin and yang of the corresponding organ.

The Practice

The traditional practice of Chinese reflexology involves applying firm pressure in sweeping movements on the various points of the feet with a stimulating foot cream. Before the foot massage, the patient's feet would be kept warm by soaking them in a footbath, often a solution of hot water and Chinese herbs. The patient would also be given warm fluids, such as green tea, to drink throughout the massage session. This is done to improve circulation. The reflexologist moisturizes the foot by using cream or medicated ointment which also helps provide lubrication. 

The therapist usually uses the knuckles of her hand to apply pressure during the massage. Some will use a hard and smooth implement. As soon as the pressure is applied to the sole, if the patient doesn't feel strong pain then he is perfectly healthy, according to TCM. The painful spots reflect illnesses and ailments of other parts of the body. The reflexologist will rub and massage the painful spots to break down rough spots, release accumulated crystals and increase circulation. The health and vitality are restored when the sore spots of the sole are treated and removed by massage.