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What is Reflexology?

maine reflexology

What is Reflexology? 


RAA’s (Reflexology Association of America) Definition of Reflexology (2019):

Reflexology, an integrative health practice, maps a reflection of the body predominately on the feet, hands and outer ears. It uses unique manual techniques to deliver pressure to neural pathways assisting the body to function optimally. 

The effectiveness of reflexology is recognized worldwide by various national health institutions and the public at large as a distinct complementary practice within the holistic health field. (RAA 2016)

More information: 

Reflexology recognizes that there is a a reflection of the body (like a mirror image) on the feet. This body image is on the hands and ears as well, which correspond to all body parts. The physical act of applying specific pressures using thumb, finger and hand techniques results in stress reduction, which causes a physiological change in the body.

Again, in reflexology the body is mapped on the hands, feet and ears The body is divided into 10 longitudinal (vertical) zones, which run the length of the body from head to toe. There are 10 zones, each finger and each toe represent 1 zone, that are used by the reflexologist to locate specific areas of the body.

There are about 7200 nerve endings in each foot; 2500 in each hand and 435 in each ear that corresponds to every part of the body. It is the nerve endings in the hands, feet and ears that send the message to the brain about stress or pain found in the body during a reflexology session. The brain than responds by producing endorphins, the body's natural pain reliever. 

What can Reflexology do for you? 

The Anatomy & Physiology mechanisms by which Reflexology works includes, but is not limited to: 

  • The Nervous system

  • Circulatory system

  • Lymphatic system

  • Sensory stimulation

  • Biomechanics

  • Relaxation response

Reflexologists are not physicians and do not diagnose or prescribe.

Reflexology improves circulation of the entire body, reduces stress, induces relaxation and helps to normalize the body naturally.

​Is Reflexology Safe?
No drugs or needles are used, and tools are not used by methods that correspond to guidelines of the American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB). The recipient removes only their shoes and socks and perhaps jewelry.

Is Reflexology a Medical Treatment? 

Reflexology is not recognized as a medical treatment. TheAMA says that 85% of all illness is due to stress. Reflexology today is practiced as a form of stress management and wellness maintenance. Release the stress and the body will respond. In order for the body to begin the healing process, it must be in a state of rest and relaxation. Reflexology releases tension, improves circulation and normalizes the body function, a complement to conventional and traditional healthcare.

The following Medical Centers statements are their own findings and opinions: 

Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Cancer center states: A reflexology session is deeply relaxing and helps to reduce stress, relieve pain, increase circulation, and enhance well-being.

Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine states:
The benefits (of reflexology) include reduction in tension and stress, increased vascular, neural and lymphatic circulation and the releasing of toxins. Research has shown that blood pressure can actually decrease during a session!


Clients use reflexology to alleviate or manage asthma, sinus problems, digestive disorders, inflammations, menstrual irregularities, pain, fatigue, inflammatory skin conditions and other imbalances. It is especially beneficial for circulatory problems.

The Heart Center at Rita’s Medical Center states: 
Reflexology helps speed recovery and reduces discomfort. Reflexology therapy strengthens and supports the body’s own healing process. 


St. Rita’s conducted a three-month pilot study on open-heart surgery patients who received reflexology, and the study confirmed a patient’s level of pain and anxiety decreased significantly. It also helped patients increase the distance they were able to walk, decreased the number of days they were hospitalized and the amount of medication administered during the recovery process.


Research Studies 

The American Academy of Reflexology conducted the first reflexology research study to ever be published in scientific medical literature, when the study appeared in the prestigious journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 82, #6, December 1993. This ground-breaking study was reported around the world, including in Journal Watch, which is published by the same people who publish the New England Journal of Medicine. 


Publishing of the study, and the wide spread reporting that followed in magazines, newspapers, numerous professional journals, as well as on radio, television, for the first time, gave Reflexologists around the world the ability to say, "Yes" when asked if there was any published scientific Reflexology Research validating that Reflexology works. 


Since the study was published, many other Reflexology Research Studies have been reported around the world. For any number of reasons, the PMS Reflexology Research Study has helped open doors for others around the world to conduct their studies. 


(From The results were so astounding it is impossible to ignore. To say that reflexology has no basis in science is to purposefully ignore that study and the subsequent studies that followed. Dr. Shewta Choudhary, India, Reflexology and Post Operative Pain [3] Dr. Shewta Choudhary, India, Reflexology and Post Operative Nausea [4] Reflexology Research Study By M. Piquemal, M.D., E.E. [5]

For more information please visit the following organizations: 

4012 South Rainbow Blvd. Box K585
PH/FAX: 702-871-9522
Organized in 1994, RAA provides a vehicle through which Reflexology professionals can communicate. Quarterly newsletter and biennial conference

P.O. Box 78060, Westcliffe Postal Outlet
Hamilton, Ontario, L9C 7N5
Tel: 1(905)387-8449
Organized in 1990, ICR provides a forum for international participation. Quarterly newsletters, biennial conferences and maintains a clearinghouse of information.

P.O. Box 740879
Arvada, CO 80006-0879
Independent testing agency, it offers a national certification program. Independent testing agency not affiliated with any school, business or organization.


Organized in 2016, NCRE offers a national certification for Reflexology educators and is developing a core foot reflexology curriculum to establish the basic educational standards in the United States.

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