With the recent explosion in alternative medical techniques in Canada and the United States, people suddenly have a lot more options when it comes to dealing with their health issues. One of the newest forms of alternative medicine to come onto the scene is reflexology. Perhaps you have seen a clinic of this type down the street from your home or maybe a friend has recommended you go in for treatment. Either way, this article will help you learn a little more about the principles behind reflexology so you can decide if it's right for you..
Reflexology is similar to massage therapy in that it involves manipulating the skin and muscles, but while massage focuses on relieving tension in the underlying muscles and creating an overall state of relaxation, in reflexology each massaged zone is a conduit to another part of the body, such as the organs. Sort of like how the air vents in the walls of your home lead back to the furnace, so affecting the vent can affect the furnace in certain cases. These claims have not so far been successfully proven in a scientific study.
Reflexology mostly focuses on applying pressure to specific points on the hands, feet, and ears. Reflexologists believe that rubbing each of these points will have an effect on the inner, less accessible parts of the body and will also act to improve the flow of life force or Qi in the body. (go here for a definition of Qi.) Reflexology maps show the different zones and their purposes in much the same way that maps shows the roads in a neighborhood. There are several schools of thought on where exactly the zones are located and how they should be manipulated.
Reflexology has been dated back as far as 5,000 years ago and has been practiced across four continents. In many places there are no requirements or licensing involved in becoming a reflexologist, though they are required to have liability insurance should they accidentally make someone's health problems worse. Some medical practices may keep a reflexologist on staff the same way that they would retain a masseuse or a cosmetologist. This is because reflexology is generally considered a vanity treatment and not a medical treatment.
Most provincial health plans do not cover alternative medicines because many of them (including reflexology) have not been satisfactorily demonstrated by scientists to have any beneficial effect on overall health. So before you ask your physiotherapist in Toronto to refer you to a reflexology clinic for further treatment, check with your provincial health advisor and your insurance representative if you have additional insurance to see if it will be covered under your plan.