Are you interested in a practical, hands-on career in natural therapies but unsure where to begin? Reflexology may be just what you're looking for. Training in this complementary therapy offers the opportunity to improve the quality of life for others by eliminating physiological and psychological symptoms. Read on to find out more about the effectiveness of reflexology, its scientific evidence, and the rewards of providing this form of healthcare service to treat a variety of health issues.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology treatments support the body's innate ability to heal itself. This complementary treatment is based on the same principles as acupuncture and acupressure, which are founded on the idea that our bodies are composed of energy channels that correspond to different internal organs. When the flow of energy is disrupted, we experience pain or discomfort. By pressing on one of these channels, the reflexologist sends an impulse or message all the way down it, removing blockages and encouraging energy to flow freely again in all of the body's organs.
Is there any evidence for reflexology?
Based on anecdotal evidence, it's safe to say that foot reflexology is an effective treatment for a wide range of health conditions, including:
- Digestive issues
- Mental health problems
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Menopausal symptoms
... and the list goes on.
The impact of reflexology on anxiety levels has been examined in a 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis study. Researchers found that patients who underwent this complementary treatment prior to varicose vein surgery reported a reduction in pain and positive outcomes on their road to recovery.
Several clinical trials have also demonstrated the positive effects of reflexology on breast cancer patients. Undergoing a reflexology session has improved their quality of life, appetite and stress levels while reducing the adverse effects of cancer treatment such as nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Its impact on cancer patients' psychological stress, as well as the significant reduction of physical pain in persons receiving treatment, has resulted in better overall life outcomes.
The cardiovascular effects of foot reflexology combined with foot massage are also noteworthy, as is its positive impact on the adrenal gland, which regulates vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature and weight.
Getting the best treatment outcomes
The reflexology foot chart is essential for receiving a complete reflexology treatment because it shows all of the bodily systems, allowing the reflexology practitioner to work on the relevant energy pathways to restore the body's energy levels and functions.
When pain is felt when gentle pressure is applied to the arch of the foot, an obstruction in the energy channel that corresponds to your kidneys is present. If the reflexologist applies pressure to your big toe and you experience the same level of pain, your pituitary gland should be examined for possible hormonal imbalances.
On the other hand, pain in the four small toes or fingers, with the exception of the thumb and ring finger, is an indication of sinus issues.
To say that reflexology has potential benefits is an understatement, as it can treat mild to chronic conditions.
A qualified practitioner can specialise in various types of reflexology techniques, such as:
Ear, hand and foot reflexology
This type of reflexology session employs acupressure points and concepts related to energy therapies. When combined with hand and ear reflexology, the beneficial effects of foot reflexology double, as this combination connects the reflexes to promote and harmonise energy flow.
The action of reflexology in the field of Ayurveda ensures the efficient flow of vital energy, known as prana, along the energy channels known as nadis. An energetic flow of prana is essential in Ayurvedic medicine for maintaining optimal health.
The Ingham Method
The efficacy of reflexology around the world is based on this method, which was developed in the 1930s by the late Eunice Ingham. It uses the thumb walk, which involves bending and straightening the thumb or finger while applying steady pressure to the area being treated.
The Rwo Shur Method
This technique involves quick and fluid movements involving the thumbs and firm pressure, as well as knuckles and small wooden sticks. It places emphasis on stimulation rather than relaxation.
How to become a qualified reflexologist
Would you like to learn more about the reflexology foot chart, or what it takes to become a qualified reflexology massage therapist? Dr Nick Vardaxis, Director of Education at Endeavour College of Natural Health, provides advice and insights into the modality, as well as study options in reflexology, in this insightful interview with Natural Therapy Pages:
What are the primary benefits of reflexology?
"Reflexology can be viewed as a cousin of massage, and offers similar benefits in offering relief from pain and enhancing relaxation. This is all achieved using manipulation of specific aspects of a patient's hands and feet, which activate pathways to encourage healing and recuperation. Reflexology has proved useful in treating conditions including infertility, hormonal imbalances, sleep disorders, PMS (premenstrual symptoms) and headaches. It has also helped treat children with ADHD and babies with earaches, colic and gum pain."
What options are there at Endeavour College for someone wanting to study reflexology?
"We have a Diploma course which consists of three trimesters – two of which are 13 weeks long, with a final one of eight weeks. This consists of practical and theoretical components, with a strong emphasis on ‘touch and feel.' There is also the option to study the course online, which is more suited to students wanting a bit more flexibility in their schedule. Endeavour College of Natural Health offers Weekend Short Courses in Reflexology in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide and a Diploma of Reflexology in Brisbane and Sydney commencing in Semester 2."
Tell us a little about the Diploma of Reflexology?
"This course provides a graduate with the skills to become a professional reflexologist, including foundation studies in physiology, anatomy and the practical skills needed to engage in clinical practice."
How practical is the Diploma course?
"It is extremely ‘hands on' in the sense that there is a lot of face to face training with our staff, as well as practical exposure to treating members of the public."
Is there a short course option?
"Yes, there is a two-day short course, which is great for people who want to test out a therapy and see if it is for them."
Are your courses accredited?
"Absolutely, our Certificate and Diploma courses are all accredited by the relevant Federal and State boards, and we develop our courses in conjunction with the appropriate professional associations, who input on the content and structure of each course."
What are the job prospects for a graduate in reflexology?
"Graduates from our Diploma course are typically ready to be employed immediately, driven by the hands-on experience gained under the guidance of our experienced clinicians."
Where would a reflexologist practise?
"Some of our graduates go into sole practice, but increasing numbers are joining health practices where clusters of natural practitioners offer a range of services."
Is there increasing cooperation with the traditional medical establishment?
"It is Endeavour's view that complementary medicine best serves patients when used in sync with conventional medicine. This approach offers patients the best of both fields of medical study. I believe natural therapies today are widely viewed as a valuable tool in offering relief from a range of conditions, and natural practitioners are increasingly allied with conventional medical practices."