Theories of How Reflexology Works

There are numerous theories of how reflexology works, among them:


  1. Psychological--This theory proposes that the power of suggestion is the primary factor, and includes the claim that it is a placebo.


  2. Lymph--Since the lymphatic system removes toxic or malignant products and includes the immune system, it is assumed that reflexology enhances its function and restores proper chemical balance in the body.


  3. Electrical Potential--It is believed that a difference in electrical potential in various parts of the body constitutes a corresponding malfunction in another part of the body. Reflexology remedies this difference.


  4. Ki Energy--It is believed that foot reflexology works in the same way as acupuncture and shiatsu: by bringing balance to the flow of energy along the body's meridians.


  5. Counter Irritation--The human body speeds up repair when it receives an insult to its equilibrium. Reflexology provides this insult.


  6. Nerve Endings/Crystals--It is believed that nerve endings are unable to transmit their impulses because of crystalline deposits that build up and block their pathway.
    A variation of this theory is that the crystalline deposits impede the grounding connection of the foot with the earth. Reflexology is believed to clear these crystalline deposits.

    Most recently, a Dr.Jesus Manzanares has found, by conducting biopsies, that sensitive reflexes have an accumulation of nerve endings.


  7. Proprioception--A foot reflexology session with its exertion of pressure, stimulation of muscles and re-angulation of joints, sends false reports of position and sensation to the brain. The brain responds to reposition the body that results in a relaxation of the muscles.

To date we do not know specifically how reflexology works. All of these theories are based upon conjecture. It is possible that all of these theories are partial contributors to the effectiveness of reflexology, that they all have a part to play - with variations in their proportions from situation to situation. What we do know is how it feels to the practitioner, and, the recipient's experience -- a deep relaxation of the body and mind.