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Foot reflexology is a form of therapy, which has developed from ancient folk wisdom over the course of many decades. Foot reflexology is a treatment of the foot, but is much more than a foot massage.

If the function of any of the bodily systems is disturbed, foot reflexology will have the ability to positively influence the disturbances. Foot reflexology is being considered to be part of the big group of complimentary medicine, which assists patients in their own self-healing powers and is not solely trying to fight symptoms of disorders. Foot reflexology can be applied separately or complimenting other forms of treatment.


For thousands of years, many cultures have been using reflectory pathways to treat ailments in different parts of the body. Ancient native tribes in North and Central America were very aware of the influence of special points in the feet.

At the beginning of last century, Dr. William Fitzgerald, USA, studied and categorized this ancient knowledge and brought it into modern usage. Around 1930, a disciple of Dr. Fitzgerald, Eunice Ingham, started using this form of therapy in her massage therapy practice with tremendous results.

1958 Hanne Marquard, a German nurse and massage therapist, used the method to treat a wide variety of ailments. 1967, she started teaching foot reflexology only to bodyworkers with a sound knowledge of medicine.

Nowadays, foot reflexology is a widely used therapy in rehabilitation hospitals and clinics.

The Method

Like several other parts of our bodies (e.g. the ear), the foot mirrors the human being. The feet of a healthy person are usually without pain and they are warm, well circulated and mobile. Should certain areas in the foot, the so-called reflexology zones, show up as painful, swollen, cold and/or hot spots while being massaged, it shows us that the corresponding part in the body needs treatment. We do have to be careful, though, not to misuse foot reflexology as a diagnostic tool, since even small energy blocks or strains will show themselves as painful areas. Diagnosis is always left to the medical doctor.

On the other hand, we can use foot reflexology very well to help the ill-feeling patient with a multitude of symptoms. In the last few decades, many clinical studies have been conducted to confirm these observations.

The Treatment

We are using the pain in the reflexology zones as a path on the map of the feet, since it will lead us to the areas that need to be addressed.

Most people view pain as the “enemy” to be fought. Foot reflexology as a regulating therapy is going a different way. We understand the pain as signal that the patient is in need of our help.

The patient is going to experience reactions in between session which are important indicators to the course of healing and is encouraged to view them as a positive development. The sometimes unexpected and even unpleasant reactions should not be viewed negatively. They remind us of a “spring cleaning” of the whole body.

The selfhealing powers will often use the eliminating organs (bowels, kidneys, skin) to rid the body of toxins and metabolic waste. Change in amount, frequency, texture, smell of bowel movements should be noted and appreciated as indications of healing.

The mucous membranes of the bronchial tracts as well as the nose might react with a short-term mucous build-up. Sleep patterns might change, and an increase in energy and life joy will show us the course of improving health. Women should be aware of the fact, that the menstrual cycle might change.

Indications for Foot Reflexology

  • Pain and disorders of spine, joints and muscles
  • Headaches, esp. migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Kidney and bladder disorders
  • Acute or chronic problems of the respiratory tract
  • Acute or chronic problems of the pelvic organs
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sleep disorders


Patients with acute or chronic inflammation of the venous system, or patients with contagious diseases or with fever are not treatable with foot reflexology.

Suggestions for Self-Care:

Make sure your feet are always warm, for example, bathe your feet in warm water, exercise plenty, and keep your feet free of callous, corns, and fungus. If any foot problems become unmanageable, contact a qualified podiatrist. Your feet will be grateful for plenty of air, light and water. Walk barefoot as often as possible. And be demanding in your choice of shoes.

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