Foot Massage Reflexology, It’s Benefits And Risks

Reflexology is a massage type that involves applying different amounts of pressure to your feet, hands, and ears. This massage treatment operates on the basis that certain regions of your feet, hands, and ears are connected to certain organs and body systems.

Professionals who practice this massage treatment at a massage table or massage chair are called reflexologists. And they believe that applying pressure to some regions of your feet can induce a healing response, and alleviate some ailments. As such, foot massage reflexology has some health benefits attached to it. Sometimes using a massage gun may be beneficial for that purpose.

foot massage reflexology

How Does Foot Massage Reflexology Work?

There are a few theories that explain how reflexology works, and they include the following:

The Traditional Chinese Medicine theory

Reflexology existed in ancient China. In ancient Chinese society, there was a belief that every person had qi (pronounced “Chee”) flow through their bodies. The excellent flow of qi in the body resulted in good health and well-being.

If a person felt stressed, it means their bodies were blocking the normal flow of qi and reflexology was performed to restore its normal flow. The ancient Chinese medicine believed that different body parts correspond with different pressure points in our bodies.

And the feet, hands, and ears have some pressure points that directly link those body parts. Reflexologists in ancient China came up with a map of pressure points on the feet. They would know where to apply the pressure based on the body part that needed the “vital energy.”

They believed that applying some pressure would send “vital energy” to the body part that corresponds with the pressure point they’re applying pressure on. This practice has continued over the years because of some health benefits it comes with.

Other Theories

In the 1980s, some British scientists found out that nerves connect our skin with the internal organs. Also, they found that our nervous system responds to outside stimuli such as touch. As such, a reflexologist’s touch may help calm your central nervous system thus causing relaxation which is vital in any healing process.

There is another theory- the zone theory. This theory holds that our bodies have 10 vertical zones. And each zone corresponds to specific fingers and toes. And by applying pressure to those fingers and toes, they can alleviate ailments and stress in the corresponding zone.

Other reflexologists believe that reflexology reduces pain through calming touch. As a result, the patient will experience an improved mood and reduced stress.

What are the benefits of reflexology?

There are many health benefits of reflexology. Some of the benefits have been evaluated in scientific studies. And so far, reflexology helps you in the following ways:

  • It reduces stress and anxiety.
  • It improves your mood.
  • It improves your general well-being.
  • It helps reduce pain.

There are other benefits that reflexology patients have reported after the massage treatment. They include the following:

  • Improved digestion.
  • It alleviates arthritis pain.
  • It boosts fertility.
  • It corrects hormonal imbalances.
  • It clears up sinus problems.
  • It alleviates back pains.
  • It fights cancer.
  • It helps fight cold and bacterial infections.
  • It helps boost their immune system.
  • It corrects the numbness and nerve problems from the use of cancer drugs.

Those are some of the health benefits reported by reflexology patients. Some of these benefits have, however, not been evaluated by scientific studies. But you can still reap the benefits of reflexology if you seek the services of a professional reflexologist.

Does Foot Massage Reflexology Have Any Risks?

Reflexology tends to be safe. Some patients report feeling a bit light-headed, others say they have tender feet after the massage treatment. But before having this foot massage reflexology, you should consult your physician first for a professional opinion.

Having this massage treatment (reflexology) might not be ideal if you have the following conditions:

  • Thyroid problems.
  • Foot ulcers.
  • Blood clots in your leg’s blood vessels.
  • Athlete’s foot.
  • Circulatory problems in your feet.
  • A low platelet counts which might cause excessive bleeding.

Patients with cancer might want to have foot massage reflexology from reflexologists with experience treating cancer patients. This is because there are certain pressure points on their feet that need no pressure or gentle pressure.

Patients with diabetes might also want to seek the services of a reflexologist with experience treating diabetes patients. Reflexology might interfere with the effectiveness of your medication if you’re a diabetic.

Patients with a pacemaker in their hearts should also consult their health caregivers before going for reflexology.

What do researchers say about reflexology?

There isn’t much research on reflexology. And the few that exist have revealed that reflexology can only be a complementary therapy that reduces symptoms, but it’s not an effective treatment method for any medical condition.

Here’s some information regarding reflexology with some medical conditions:


A 2011 study found that reflexology helped reduce some symptoms in female cancer patients such as shortness of breath. The National Cancer Institute funded this study where experts studied 240 women with advanced breast cancer. All the patients were undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

Though the cancer patients reported experiencing improved quality of life after reflexology, they didn’t report anything regarding pain alleviation. That means reflexology doesn’t reduce cancer pains.

Another study was done on women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The researchers studied the effects of ear, hand, and foot reflexology on 35 women with the PMS. The study concluded that reflexology helped reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This was after finding out that women who received reflexology for two months reported fewer PMS cases than those who didn’t receive the massage treatments at all.


There have been a few studies on the effects of reflexology on anxiety. An early 2000 study revealed that reflexology helped reduce anxiety in breast or lung cancer patients. The study looked at how 30-minute foot reflexology affected anxiety in the said patients.

It found out that patients who received the reflexology experienced less anxiety than those who didn’t receive the massage treatment at all.

There is yet another research – a 2014 study – that revealed some facts about the effects of reflexology on anxiety. In this study, the researchers gave some heart surgery patients 20-minute foot reflexology once a day for 4 days.

They found that patients who received massage treatment experienced lower anxiety levels than those who didn’t receive the foot reflexology. As such, the touch by another person might cause you to relax and experience lower anxiety levels. These studies have shown that there are some benefits that you can obtain from foot massage reflexology.


Foot massage reflexology might not be scientifically proven to cure some diseases or medical conditions. But it is a useful complementary therapy that can help reduce some symptoms such as pain and anxiety.

Before undergoing this foot massage reflexology, make sure you know your pre-existing conditions first. Consult your physician for a professional opinion first. You will be avoiding complications by doing so.

Besides, some patients might need to avoid this massage treatment, especially when consulting inexperienced reflexologists. You now know some of the benefits of foot massage reflexology. You also know its origins and how it came to be in existence.

Your only option is to seek a certified reflexologist if you want to receive this helpful treatment.


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