What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a focused pressure technique, usually directed at the feet or hands. It is based on the premise that there are zones and reflexes on different parts of the body which corresponds to and are relative to all parts, glands and organs of the entire body.

How Does It Work?

Homeostatis “The physiological process by which the internal systems of the body are maintained at equilibrium, despite variations in the external conditions.” (The Bantam Medical Dictionary, 1990, p. 204)

BalanceWhen the reflexes are stimulated, the body's natural electrical energy works along the nervous system to clear any blockages in the corresponding zones. A reflexology session seems to break up deposits (felt as a sandy or gritty area under the skin) which may interfere with this natural flow of the body's energy.

Manipulating specific reflexes removes stress, activating a parasympathetic response in the body to enable the disharmonies to be released by a physiological change in the body. With stress removed and circulation improved, the body is allowed to return to a state of homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the "automatic" process that the body incorporates to bring it back to the "normal" state. For example, if the blood pressure is abnormal, the kidneys will secrete the enzyme renin which is involved with blood pressure, and the hormone, erythropoietin that increases the rate of red blood cell production.

What Are The Benefits?


Reflexology demonstrates four (4) main benefits:

  1. Relaxation with the removal of stress.
  2. Enhanced circulation.
  3. Assists the body to normalize metabolism naturally.
  4. Complements all other healing modalities.

Reflexologists Do Not:

Do Not
  1. Diagnose medical conditions unless qualified to do so.
  2. Prescribe medications unless qualified to do so.
  3. Treat for specific conditions except in emergencies.
  4. Work in opposition to the medical or other fields.
  5. Encourage the client to cease taking their prescribed medication.

Reflexologists do not diagnose medical conditions unless qualified to do so. The only diagnosis made is a "tender reflex." A reflexologist will refer to other qualified health care practitioners when services required are outside the reflexologist's scope of practice.

Similarly, reflexologists do not prescribe medications unless qualified to do so. The therapeutic intervention is limited to "working the reflexes."

Indications and Reasons for Referral:

Types of people seeking reflexology sessions are of all ages, but approximately 70% are females. These people are usually health conscious and wish to explore health alternatives. The vast majority of clients usually realize the benefits of reducing stress from a reflexology session which in turn minimizes physical symptoms.

Usually, referrals are made in conjunction with other existing forms of therapy to supplement ongoing medical treatments. Reflexology has been known to help clients deal with physiological symptoms such as the side effects of cancer chemotherapy.

Reflexology may be performed on everyone, from the newborn to the elderly. It can be used for a general "tune-up" or for an unhealthy body. It can be used throughout pregnancy, or pre surgically and post surgically. In all cases, common sense should be used in selecting this therapy.

Frequency of Visits:

When a client asks when the next visit will be, the reflexologist explains to the client that the benefits of the session will go on working for five or more days. Beyond this, the reflexologist cannot guess the client’s requirements. The frequency of the client’s next visit(s) will be determined by the client based on their requirements and expectations. The client may decide to return in a week, a month or six months. The reflexologist has no way to measure how much stress the client has gathered or the state of their health since the last visit. Reflexologists who say ‘I want to see you three times a week for six months’ without just cause are considering their own pockets instead of the true requirements of the client.

Length of Sessions:

A complete session on both feet is always performed. Depending upon the reflexologist's level of experience and the client's requirements, sessions will last between 45 to 60 minutes.


Reflexes are worked according to the body’s requirements. Stress removal is the first priority; followed by enhanced circulation with attention paid to reflexes relative to the body requirements. Pressure exerted by the reflexologist usually ranges from 0 to 10 or 20 pounds. Common sense dictates when less pressure is required.


A firm pressure is used when working the reflexes of the feet. We work within the pain threshold of the client. As an indicator, use a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being sensitive and 5 being painful. Encourage the person to let you know when they experience any discomfort, and adjust your pressure accordingly. Reflexology is not meant to inflict pain. You can test this on yourself by applying pressure on your arm until it becomes uncomfortable.

Communication with the client is essential. Ask whether the pressure is too light or too great. It is important to remember that when tender reflexes are located, they must be worked with a degree of pressure to effect the desired result. Massaging or pampering the foot may feel good but does nothing to stimulate the reflexes and to assist the body’s natural response to normalize the metabolisms. Well-worked reflexes prove to the client the necessity of pressure by the process that homeostasis has brought to the body. The reflexologist always works within the pain tolerance threshold of the individual.

A reflexologist works within the pain tolerance threshold of the individual.


What affects tenderness?

  1. Injury.
  2. Surgery - both pre-surgery and post- surgery.
  3. General or specific stress (more than 80% of North American disease is related to stress). Stress can affect all reflexes.
  4. Drugs - prescription or non-prescription. They may numb reflexes.
  5. Illness.
  6. Foot conditions: corns, calluses, spurs, etc.
  7. Piriformis Muscle Syndrome (short leg).

Therapy Setting:

The optimum location is a quiet, relaxing environment with the client comfortably seated. A recliner chair is most suitable as the reflexologist and the client can see eye-to-eye. In reality, reflexology can be administered anywhere - sitting up or lying down. Receiving the therapy when necessary is more important than waiting for optimum session conditions.

Client's Responsibility:

  1. The client practices cleanliness.
  2. The client sits comfortably in a reclining chair for the session for eye-to-eye contact with the reflexologist.
  3. The client gives the reflexologist a completed and signed Reflexology Health Record (with consent given) and The client gives the reflexologist a completed and signed Reflexology Health Record (with consent given) and accepts responsibility for the session.
  4. The client tells the reflexologist the pain tolerance threshold.
  5. The client may enjoy the session and perhaps fall asleep.
  6. The client is encouraged to rest upon returning home while the body is in the parasympathetic response.
  7. It is suggested that the client drink a glass of water to help cleanse toxins released from a session.

Reflexologist's Responsibility:

  1. The reflexologist practices hand cleanliness.
  2. The reflexologist keeps finger nails trimmed.
  3. The reflexologist keeps long hair under control and is aware of any jewellery that may retard session.
  4. The reflexologist provides a professional and comfortable environment.
  5. The reflexologist provides warmth, tissues and wet-cloths for the client's requirements if necessary.
  6. Relaxing music may be played.
  7. A Reflexology Health Record is taken and the client signs a consent on the form accepting responsibility for the session.
  8. It is the responsibility of the reflexologist to keep all client records and sessions confidential. Records are to be dated and recorded in ink only.
  9. The reflexologist removes the client's socks only.
  10. The client's bare feet are worked on (hands where necessary) or over socks in emergencies.
  11. A thorough foot examination is done by the reflexologist.
  12. Conversation is encouraged and the reflexologist is a good listener (Reflexologists are not psychologists).
  13. The reflexologist works within a time frame by which the client does not feel rushed and has time for questions.
  14. Optional - Olive oil may be used at the end of the session by the reflexologist. Do not use any creams or oils (other than olive oil). They may contain perfumes that may cause an allergic reaction.
  15. The reflexologist documents the results of the reflexology session.

Occupational Hazards:

Reflexologist-related injuries can result if proper techniques are not practiced:

  1. The finger nails of a reflexologist's hands usually grow faster than normal due to the stimulation of the fingers during a session.
  2. Contagious disease can be collected beneath the reflexologist's finger nails if not washed properly after each session.
  3. Long finger nails can inflict scratches or cuts on the client's feet.
  4. Cuts or open sores on the reflexologist's hands could expose the reflexologist to any pathological conditions that may be present on the client's feet.
  5. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can result if the reflexologist strains the hands, fingers and wrists. Take frequent breaks and exercise as often as necessary.
  6. Improper posture will result in discomfort or pain in the shoulders, neck and arms.
  7. Lack of back support can result in low back and/or hip pains.
  8. Cleanliness of the work environment and supplies are very important to prevent contamination of both reflexologist and client.