What Is Reflexology? Reflexology Basics & Techniques

If you’ve heard of a reflexology foot massage before, you’re probably wondering what it includes and how you can benefit from it. If you’re not familiar with different massage techniques, these terms can get confusing. So what is reflexology, and what can you expect from a session with a reflexologist? This method targets pressure points on the feet, hands, or ears that are connected to body parts, organs, or glands, to help people deal with pain, stress, and more. In today’s blog, we’ll cover the basics of reflexology, theories on how this technique works, benefits, side effects, and people who should avoid scheduling a session. 

What Is Reflexology?

Reflexology is one of the most common massage techniques globally that uses pressure points located on the feet, hands, and ears to target specific issues. Each point connects to a particular organ, gland, or body area, and the application of pressure to a specific point should induce a neural response. The goal is to make all the energy pathways accessible so that the energy can flow freely and the person will achieve better health and wellbeing. This is a unique discipline that people have practiced for many years and its roots date back to 2500 BC. It’s made of specific manual techniques, and the person who specializes in it is called a reflexologist. 

How Does Reflexology Work?

As we already mentioned, the reflexology foot massage is focused on pressure points on the foot, or in some cases the hands and ears, to remove blockages and keep the energy flowing freely. Various theories explain this approach; each one has a different stand. The body has multiple vital meridians through which the energy moves, and if there are any disruptions, a person will experience stress, pain, or discomfort. 

According to the Chinese theory, the free flow of the energy Qi is essential for a person’s wellbeing. So therapists are familiar with the points they should pressure and massage to reach to parts located over the entire body, whether an organ, gland, or area. The gentle pressure will ensure that the energy flows through the body without disruption so that the person won’t experience pain anymore will be happier and more relaxed. 

The theory reminds very much of the one that shiatsu massages practices; the major difference is that shiatsu practitioners work on the entire body, not just the feet or hands. If you can’t always afford a reflexologist, there is another way to enjoy the benefits of these two methods. Getting a shiatsu foot massager means getting a massage at home whenever you want. Another excellent idea is a shiatsu foot spa massager that offers a relaxing spa treatment and a massage. The two-in-one device is perfect for everyone who experiences pain, discomfort, tiredness, stress, and anxiety. 

Another theory reveals that the human nervous system responds to the touch of a therapist on the skin, which helps the person relax and it promotes healing. Finally, some scientists divide the body into ten vertical zones, and there is a finger or toe for each zone. 

Reflexology Benefits

Although this method is generally used as a complementary therapy, you can still book a session even if you don’t have any medical issues. This technique is much more than a foot massage because it delivers various health benefits. 

As science and technology invest more time and money to explore this method further, there are a few benefits that we have to mention. First, this method can help people and patients deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. Since massage releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which are related to feelings of happiness, calmness, focus, you will feel more relaxed and fulfilled after a single session. 

Other significant benefits people report from this massage therapy include:

  • Improved blood circulation
  • Pain relief (neck pain, foot pain, arthritis pain, back pain, etc.)
  • Improved fertility
  • Help with nerve problems
  • Stronger immune system
  • Better digestion
  • Clogged nose and sinuses
  • Pain due to cancer
  • Pain during labor
  • Help with constipation

Side Effects

Although this technique is generally safe for most people and is used to treat various health issues, there are a few side effects we have to mention. In addition, reflexology treatments aren’t painful, don’t use needles, can relieve pain, discomfort, and help you relax. So what are the unexpected side effects of reflexology you might experience, and who should stay away from this method?


Have you ever left a massage therapy place feeling exhausted? The truth is that many people fall asleep during a massage, and they feel drained after it. This side effect isn’t something to worry about because it can happen to everyone, especially if you’ve been tired for a while before getting a massage. Headaches can also accompany fatigue, and they tend to go away once you’re rested. Some people get very nervous before a session, in most cases if it’s an accompanying treatment for other conditions, so they experience fatigue and headaches. 

Flu-Like Symptoms

According to reflexology practitioners, some patients can experience flu-like symptoms after a session, which means their body is getting rid of the toxins. This includes coughing, eliminating mucus, runny nose, etc. 

Sensitive or Painful Feet

You might feel pain or discomfort in your feet or hands after the treatment. This is generally an expected symptom, considering that the therapist will apply pressure to these areas. The sensation usually lasts for 24 to 48 hours. Some people won’t have sensitive feet after the first session, while others will experience this side effect for a few sessions. 


This is probably the strangest side effect, but you have to know it before you start wondering what’s going on with your emotions. Some individuals feel overly emotional during or after the session, and that’s completely normal. You might feel the uncontrollable urge to laugh or cry, but nothing to worry about. All you have to do is rest or go to sleep. 

Some of the less common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Thirst

When You Should Avoid Reflexology

Who should stay away from this type of massage? People with the following health conditions should consult a doctor before they schedule a session with a reflexologist:

  • Feet ulcers
  • Epilepsy
  • Blood clots
  • Bacterial or fungal feet infections
  • Circulatory conditions
  • Gout
  • Thyroid issues
  • Low blood platelet count

This technique is generally safe for pregnant women; however, they should always consult a doctor first. Since the technique can stimulate contractions, you should contact your gynecologist first, then talk with the reflexologist and let them know you’re pregnant. 


Now that we’ve answered the question ‘What is reflexology?’ you can go ahead and explore all its benefits. This massage method has been around for centuries and is an excellent way to deal with stress, anxiety, and pain. You can expect to feel much more relaxed after a session; it can help with neck, back, foot pain, be beneficial for cancer patients and people with digestive problems, boost the blood flow, and much more.  Although this technique is safe for most people, you should consult a doctor first. They’ll take a look at your medical history and check if any conditions make it unsafe for you to schedule a session with a reflexologist.