Reflexology - many people know the name, but what is it? Reflexology is certainly a practice that falls outside the usual remit of western medicine, but that doesn't diminish its effectiveness.
With roots that can be traced back as far as Ancient Egypt, reflexology as we know it today was founded by Dr William Fitzgerald, an American ear nose and throat surgeon.
Fitzgerald noticed that pressure on specific areas of the body produced an anaesthetising effect on a related area. His work was further developed in the 1930s by massage therapist Eunice Ingham.
So what is it? Reflexology, or zone therapy, is based on Ingham and Fitzgerald's observation that congestion or tension in a part of the foot will mirror congestion or tension in a related part of the body.
Thus, by treating particular areas of the feet, you can heal organs and tissues throughout the body.
When you seek treatment from a reflexologist, they use specialised massage techniques to stimulate nerve endings in the feet - these can effect changes in other parts of the body, healing and relaxing you.
Reflexology is considered an alternative or complementary therapy, because it uses gentle treatment to help the body activate its own healing systems. It works on underlying problems to hep the person achieve health and well-being throughout their body.
Reflexologists believe that they can feel build ups of substances like crystallised lactic acid in the foot - by gently massaging and breaking these down, they can be reabsorbed and then eliminated by the lymph system, improving health.