Reflexology involves the application of manual pressure to specific points or areas of the feet called "reflex points" that are believed to correspond to other parts of the body. Reflexology is often used with the intention to relieve stress or prevent/treat physical disorders. Pressure may also be applied to the hands or ears.
Reflexology charts consist of pictures of the soles of the feet on which diagrams of corresponding internal organs or parts of the body are drawn. For example, charts may display that the toes correspond to the head and neck, the ball of the foot to the chest and lungs, the arch of the foot to the internal organs, the heel to the sciatic nerve and pelvic area, and the bone along the arch of the foot to the spine. The right side of the body is believed to be reflected in the right foot, and the left side in the left foot.
Although most reflexologists formally claim that these relationships are not used to diagnose disease, practicing reflexologists sometimes assert that tenderness or a gritty feeling of the feet represents current or past disease in the corresponding area of the body.
Reflexology is sometimes combined with other techniques, and may be used by healthcare practitioners of various disciplines (such as massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, physical therapists, or nurses).
Individual reflexology sessions often last from 30 to 60 minutes, and may be part of a 4 to 8 week course of therapy. Practitioners range from those who taught themselves from books to individuals who attended training courses and belong to professional associations. Techniques can be learned and self-administered. No widely accepted regulatory systems exist for reflexology, and there is currently no state licensure or training requirement in the United States.
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