What is Reflexology? What Are the Meridians and How Do You Use Them?
Hand and foot reflexology massage is probably one of the easiest methods of self healing. There are many reflexology meridian points in the body. Acupuncture meridian points are found the entire length of each energy pathway, in every point in the body. The reflexology meridian points found in the face, hands and feet and can most easily be used as a self-treatment for healing illness, pain, fatigue and discomfort in a corresponding area of the body. Reflexology is proven to be an evidence-based application for use in medical settings, as demonstrated by researchers such as Choudhary, S., Kumar, G., & Singh, K. (Spring 2006), Piquemal, M. (September 2005), Testa, G.W. (2000), and others. Research has shown the specific techniques of reflexology to be effective and beneficial in many ways, impacting a variety of physical and psychological concerns, including headache, back, joint, and muscle pain, digestive disorders, and relief from symptoms of cancer including fatigue and malaise.
What are the Meridian Points in the Hand?
Practitioners use reflexology techniques on the thumb for healing conditions related to the energy meridian of the lungs, chest, or respiration. Meridian points on the index fingers can be stimulated to improve conditions in the abdomen, such as irritable bowel symptoms, cramping, gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea and constipation. The middle of the palm is the gullet, stomach, heart, liver.
The top of the pinky finger is associated with the top of the head with the fleshy portion below the top digits associated with the heart. Stimulating the base of the first digit of the thumb stimulates fatigue and insomnia. The wrist is associated with internal and external hemorrhoids, impotence, prostate glands, uterus, vagina, and urinary problems. The right and left side of the wrist are associated with the limbs of right and left legs. For more detailed explanation, and to enlarge the chart, click on the more detailed Hand Reflexology Charts above.
What are the Meridian Points in the Foot?
Foot reflexology charts are similar to the hand. The spine is located on the inside of both feet, from the big toe down to the heel.
Massaging the toes is a great way to relieve headaches as it relates to all of the bones in the skull, jaw, brain, sinuses and head. Meridian points for the spleen, liver, stomach, gall bladder and bladder can be found by massaging across from from the big toe to the smallest toe.
How to Use the Reflexology Charts
Using the reflexology charts involves massaging the areas associated with the organ or body part. Click on the chart to enlarge the view. Most reflexologists begin by massaging the area all over slowly, but firmly, to loosen it, stimulate circulation, and relax the client. Massage can be done in a circular motion clockwise and then counter-clockwise. The amount of applied pressure varies depending upon what is comfortable for each person. Some prefer light pressure and other prefer more intense pressure. If you feel crackling, or if bubbles can be felt under the point, keep gently working the meridian point until this disappears completely. Crackling or bubbles are an indication of blockages in the energy pathway and need to be dispersed. The common practice for working with meridians is to gently massage the area for about 15 to 30 seconds.
Special Considerations and Cautions
Most people love reflexology massage and find it stimulating, healing, and harmless. However, people with certain conditions should NOT receive reflexology treatments.
People who have the following conditions or are in these particular circumstances, should not try reflexology massage on themselves and/or should consult with a trusted physician or certified and accredited reflexologist. Check with your state or national reflexology certification organization. For example, in the United States, you can contact the American Reflexology Certification Board.
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Cellulite on the feet or legs
- Acute infection with high temperature
- Stroke- in the first two weeks
- An unstable pregnancy
- Pregnancy in the first trimester
- Insulin dependent diabetics
- Cancer, especially lymphoma
- Anti-coagulating drugs
- People taking high dosage drugs or a variety of drugs
- People who have had heart surgery within the past six months
- Hypersensitive people (for example, people with chronic fatique)
- Contagious conditions (for example, plantar warts, tinea, AIDS, Hep B or C)
- Bruising, cuts, swelling, blisters or contagious or infected skin conditions
Reflexology can be an effective form of treatment for people around the world. It is something that can be safely practiced by most people in the privacy of their homes, however there are certain conditions that would warrant caution when using this practice as described above. If you are seeking more information about hand reflexology, contact your trusted health practitioner, acupuncturist, or reflexologist for more information.
Choudhary, S., Kumar, G., & Singh, K. (Spring 2006). Reflexology Association of America: Reflexology reduces the requirement and quantity of pain killers after general surgery
Choudhary, S. & Singh, T. (n.d.). Reflexology Association of America: Efficacy of reflexology in prevention of post-operative nausea vomiting (pdf)
Ernst, E., Posadzki, P., & Lee, M. (2011). Reflexology: An update of a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Maturitas 68, 116-120.
Kim M.S. et al. (2001). Effects of hand massage on anxiety in cataract surgery using local anesthesia. J Cataract Refract Surg, 27(6):884-90.
Oleson, T & Flocco, W. (1993). Randomized controlled study of premenstrual symptoms treated with ear, hand, and foot reflexology. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 82(6), 906-11.
Piquemal, M. (September 2005). Global effect of reflexology on blood flow Paper presented at the International Council of Reflexologists, Amsterdam and summarized by Christine Issel for the ICR Newsletter (Vol. 15, No. 1, March 2006, pp 18-19), reprinted at the Reflexology Association of America.
Testa, G.W. (2000). A study on the effects of reflexology on migraine headaches. Dissertation, August 2000
Williamson et al (2002). Randomised controlled trial of reflexology for menopausal symptoms. BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 109 (9) p 1050-1055.
This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.
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