Reflexology is a therapeutic technique in which pressure and massage are applied to specific spots on the feet and/or hands that match up to other places and organs throughout the body. A trained reflexologists will determine which spots to rub in order to provide patients with the targeted therapy, determined by their own needs, symptoms and types of pain.
Reflexology is thought to have its roots in ancient Egypt, where pictograms have been found showing men having their hands and feet rubbed. The practice was also used in the Roman Empire, China, India and by the Incans in South America, who it’s believed passed the practice onto the people who became the North American First Nations. During the 1930’s, Eunice D. Ingham, a physical therapist, discovered that the placement of pressure points on the foot mirrors the placement of organs within the body. Ingham went on to publish “Stories the Feet Can Tell”, which forms the basis of modern reflexology, in 1938.
Is Reflexology the Same as Massage?
Reflexology is not the same as standard massage therapy. While massage therapy concentrates on relieving pain and tension from muscles, reflexology works to heal the parts of the body, which cannot be touched from the outside by manipulating pressure points. This technique is similar to acupuncture and acupressure.
How Reflexology can Help Fibromyalgia Sufferers
In one study of 10 fibromyalgia sufferers who had reflexology treatments twice weekly for five weeks, researchers found definite improvement in the symptoms of all ten of the patients, with no side-effects.
FMS patients who have undergone regular reflexology treatments report an improvement in:
- Mental clarity
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Sleep disorders
- Myofascial pain
- Tender point pain
Reflexology can be done at home, using charts or special reflexology socks and gloves, to show you where the pressure points you should be stimulating are. If you choose to go this route, it would probably be beneficial to attend a workshop to learn how to do reflexology on yourself effectively and what points to stimulate in order to obtain the maximum relief of your FMS symptoms.
However, a trained reflexologist might be the best option for those looking for specific types of pain relief and to obtain a more relaxing experience, especially for those who list anxiety as a symptom of their FMS. Many insurers will cover reflexology as a complimentary therapy for fibromyalgia.
Reflexology can be done as part of a full body massage, or as a stand-alone treatment. On the first visit to a reflexologist, you will talk to your therapist about what specific things you want treatment for and what are the symptoms you are trying to alleviate. Treatments usually last around half an hour, but try to schedule your sessions for times when you do not have to rush off, as your reaction to the treatment can be unpredictable.