“Reflexology is commonly known as a holistic practice performed on the feet,” says Brian Goodwin, esthetician, herbalist, and international educator at Eminence Organic Skin Care. “The concept is that there are meridian points on the feet that correspond with various organs in the body.”
According to Dr. Dustin Martinez, a Los Angeles-based chiropractic physician, research shows that reflexology can improve quality of life in a number of ways. This involves reducing stress and bringing balance to the system.
“Reflexology is ancient medicine — it’s been around forever,” he says. “It can be traced as far back as 2330 B.C.”
According to Martinez, reflexology was given its current name in the United States in the early 1900s.
Foot reflexology may help with:
• Stress and relaxation
• Eye strain
• Improved sleep
Stress and relaxation
One of the key benefits associated with reflexology is relaxation and stress-management. This is achieved by applying pressure to certain points on the feet.
“Relaxation is probably the biggest benefit [of foot reflexology],” says Martinez. “Reflexology helps by increasing blood flow through the body, which helps to decrease stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure. When you feel less stress and less anxious, it’s easy to feel relaxed.”
In the 2015 study mentioned above, the authors observe that a common benefit of reflexology may be reducing stress and inducing general relaxation. Additionally, the study notes reflexology may be one way to interrupt the pattern of repetitive lifestyle stress by “helping the body systems to return to their natural state.”
If you try reflexology for stress management or relaxation, consider having multiple sessions. According to the study, one session may interrupt the stress response, but multiple sessions are recommended for optimal benefits.
Martinez notes that reflexology may help with digestion.
“One of the reflex points found on your feet is connected to your stomach—when this particular point is stimulated, it will increase blood flow to your stomach, helping to improve digestion,” he says.
“Reflexology can help to reverse some of the stress we put on our eyes just from our daily activities,” says Martinez. “These pressure points help to relax the tight muscles caused by looking at our screens all day.”
Considering reflexology may be beneficial in helping you to relax and reduce stress, it’s no surprise that some say it may help promote a more restful night’s sleep.
“Because reflexology is moving energy and improving overall circulation, it’s easy to have a restful night’s sleep after a treatment,” explains Martinez.