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Reflexology: what is it and what are the benefits?

This week is World Reflexology Week - time dedicated to the wonders of this gentle, restorative treatment that so many swear by for overall as well as targeted wellbeing. So, what exactly is reflexology and what are the benefits?

What is reflexology?

Reflexology is a type of massage that focuses on the feet, hands or ears, but most commonly the feet. It's based on the hypothesis that different body parts, and more specifically, organs and body systems, relate to pressure points on the feet. When you simulate those pressure points, the belief is that it brings relaxation and healing to the corresponding area of the body.

There are different variations on reflexology, however most draw on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, hinging on the ancient Chinese belief in qi or 'vital energy'. The theory is that illness stems from imbalances and energy blockages in the body, and reflexology helps to keep qi flowing and therefore keep the body disease free.

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What happens during a reflexology spa treatment?

Reflexology treatments tend to last between 30 minutes and an hour and are experienced like a massage. You may have reflexology as a standalone treatment focusing purely on the hands or feet, or it may be incorporated as part of a wider treatment, like a full body massage. It's a very gentle and relaxing therapy that lots of people enjoy.

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What are the benefits of reflexology?

Reflexology is popular because it's a very gentle but effective treatment so just about anyone can experience it, even during pregnancy or cancer treatment (you should always discuss this with your doctor and therapist before a treatment). You should also speak to your doctor before having reflexology if you have conditions including diabetes or epilepsy.

Some of the benefits of reflexology include:

  • Ease stress and anxiety
  • Improve energy levels
  • Reduce physical pain: e.g back pain or arthritis pain
  • Help with fatigue
  • Ease emotional pain
  • Improve mood
  • Improve general sense of wellbeing
  • Ease headaches
  • Support good digestion
  • Ease menopausal symptoms
  • Ease period pain
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