Reflexology is an alternative medicine involving application of pressure to the feet with specific thumb or finger techniques. It is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.
A unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one's qi. Reflexologists divide the body into ten equal vertical zones, five on the right and five on the left.
The Reflexology Association of Canada defines reflexology as:
"A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears and their referral areas within zone related areas, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body."
Reflexologists posit that the blockage of an energy field, invisible life force, or Qi, can prevent healing. Another tenet of reflexology is the belief that practitioners can relieve stress and pain in other parts of the body through the manipulation of the feet. One claimed explanation is that the pressure received in the feet may send signals that 'balance' the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce stress and pain.
Use by population
Is there supposed to be a chart here? An example of a reflexology chart of the Hand, demonstrating the areas of the hand that practitioners believe correspond with organs in the "zones" of the body.
Reflexology is one of the most used alternative therapies in Denmark. A national survey from 2005 showed that 21.4% of the Danish population had used reflexology at some point in life and 6.1% had used reflexology within the previous year.
A study from Norway showed that 5.6% of the Norwegian population in 2007 had used reflexology within the last 12 months.