Reflexology is a therapeutic method of relieving pain by stimulating predefined pressure points on the feet and hands. This controlled pressure alleviates the source of the discomfort. In the absence of any particular malady or abnormality, reflexology may be as effective for promoting good health and for preventing illness as it may be for relieving symptoms of stress, injury, and illness.
Reflexologists work from maps of predefined pressure points that are located on the hands and feet. These pressure points are reputed to connect directly through the nervous system and affect the bodily organs and glands. The Reflexologist manipulates the pressure points according to specific techniques of reflexology therapy. By means of this touching therapy, any part of the body that is the source of pain, illness, or potential debility can be strengthened through the application of pressure at the respective foot or hand location.
Reflexology is a healing art of ancient origin. Although its origins are not well documented, there are reliefs on the walls of a Sixth Dynasty Egyptian tomb (c. 2450 b.c.) that depict two seated men receiving massage on their hands and feet. From Egypt, the practice may have entered the Western world during the conquests of the Roman Empire. The concepts of reflexology have also been traced to pre-dynastic China (possibly as early as 3000 b.c.) and to ancient Indian medicine. The Inca civilization may have subscribed to the theories of reflexology and passed on the practice of this treatment to the Native Americans in the territories that eventually entered the United States.
In recent times, Sir Henry Head first investigated the concepts underlying reflexology in England in the 1890s. Therapists in Germany and Russia were researching similar notions at approximately the same time, although with a different focus. Less than two decades later, a physician named William H. Fitzgerald presented a similar concept that he called zone analgesia or zone therapy. Fitzgerald’s zone analgesia was a method of relieving pain through the application of pressure to specific locations throughout the entire body.
Fitzgerald divided the body into 10 vertical zones, five on each side, that extended from the head to the fingertips and toes, and from front toback. Every aspect of the human body appears in one of these 10 zones, and each zone has a reflex area on the hands and feet. Fitzgerald and his colleague, Dr. Edwin Bowers, demonstrated that by applying pressure on one area of the body, they could anesthetize or reduce pain in a corresponding part.
In 1917, Fitzgerald and Bowers published Relieving Pain at Home, an explanation of zone therapy. Later, in the 1930s, a physical therapist, Eunice D. Ingham, explored the direction of the therapy and made the startling discovery that pressure points on the human foot were situated in a mirror image of the corresponding organs of the body with which the respective pressure points were associated. Ingham documented her findings, which formed the basis of reflexology, in Stories the Feet Can Tell, published in 1938.
Reflexology promotes healing by stimulating the nerves in the body and encouraging the flow of blood. In the process, reflexology not only quells the sensation of pain, but relieves the source of the pain as well.
Anecdotally, Reflexologists claim success in the treatment of a variety of conditions and injuries. One condition is fibromyalgia . People with this disease are encouraged to undergo reflexology therapy to alleviate any of a number of chronic bowel syndromes associated with the condition. Frequent brief sessions of reflexology therapy are also recommended as an alternative to drug therapy for controlling the muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia and for relieving difficult breathing caused by tightness in the muscles of the patient’s neck and throat.
In a typical reflexology treatment, the therapist and patient have a preliminary discussion prior to therapy, to enable the therapist to focus more accurately on the patient’s specific complaints and to determine the appropriate pressure points for treatment.
A reflexology session involves pressure treatment that is most commonly administered in foot therapy sessions of approximately 40–45 minutes in duration. The foot therapy may be followed by a brief 15-minute hand therapy session. No artificial devices or special equipment are associated with this therapy. The human hand is the primary tool used in reflexology. The therapist applies controlled pressure with the thumb and forefinger, generally working toward the heel of the foot or the outer palm of the hand.
In order to realize maximum benefit from a reflexology session, the therapist as well as the patient should be situated so as to afford optimal comfort for both. Patients in general receive treatment in a reclining position, with the therapist positioned as necessary—to work on the bare feet, or alternately on the bare hands.
A reflexology patient removes both shoes and socks in order to receive treatment. No other preparation is involved.
Because reflexology is intended to normalize the body functions, the therapy does not cause a condition to worsen. Most patients find that pain diminishes over the course of the therapy.
Recently the Colombo International Airport introduced Reflexology. But most of these therapists do not have the required knowledge and qualifications.
Reflexology was taught and practised in its therapeutic way at the Open International University of Complementary Medicines (OIUCM) at Kalubowila and Wellawatte where many teachers visited and conducted seminars and training classes.
Deshamanya Dr. Cyril Antony is a well known Martial Artist in Sri Lanka, as he introduced Taekwon-Do, Hapkido and Muay-Thai. He is also a highly qualified Acupuncturist and also has Doctorates for Acupuncture, Traditional Medicine, Philosophy and for Martial Arts, as well as he is a Reiki Grandmaster.
Deshamanya Dr. Cyril Antony has a very long experience and is qualified in Reflexology, Shiatsu Therapy and Traditional Thai Massage having experience in USA, Canada, Europe and Singapore, and is a member of the International Council of Reflexologists (ICR), and is currently an elected Director Board Member of ICR.
Deshamanya Dr. Cyril Antony conducts free clinics every week on Thursday at St. Jude’s church Welisara, Ragama and every year in December full moon day at Hendala.
A facebook page as Reflexology Sri Lanka is maintained, (www.facebook.com/reflexologysrilanka) with the idea of promoting Reflexology in Sri Lanka among the general public along with treatments and classes and give a good recognition to Reflexology in the island.
ICR established in 1990 in Toronto, Canada determined to establish Reflexology as a self regulating profession to Reflexologists, resolved to combine their efforts to ensure public safety and to promote the study and exchange of the knowledge and art of reflexology within the profession. There are many member nations, through Deshamanya Dr. Cyril Antony Sri Lanka also became a member of the ICR. The needs of the Profession are met by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information; via quarterly newsletters and international conferences. The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of meeting these needs are determined to an example of inclusiveness, respectful consideration, and tolerance for any reflexology theory, technique, and practitioner. Every year the last week of September is regarded as the World Reflexology Week, where many programmes are conducted across the globe by ICR members. The International Council of Reflexologists conducts its affairs through a General Council to which all members belong and an Executive Board to which members are elected. Deshamanya Dr. Cyril Antony has been elected in year 2017 as a Director on the ICR Board of Directors for a term of four years.
ICR conducts a biannual conference every odd year. In 2017 it was held in Taitung, Taiwan and in year 2019 it is scheduled to be held in Anchorage, Alaska.