Reflexology: A Holistic Therapy for Stress and and Stress-Related Disease

Pilates Studio

by Garen Bennett Robie

The grim reality of stress in our modern age is showing up in more and more scientific studies. The American Medical Association has reported that stress is a factor in 75 percent of all disease. One study even linked the effects of stress directly to weakening of the heart muscle.

In August 2004, researchers at Duke University Medical Center reported on the effects of stress on the heart. They discovered that the more stress, anger, and sadness someone experienced, the less their heart was able to respond effectively to everyday tasks. The pressure exerted on the heart by constant emotional ups and and downs caused it to stretch beyond its capacity to bounce back to normal.

We all know stress is a normal physical response when a person feels threatened, upset, or unbalanced. When there is a perceived threat, the nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action so the blood pressure rises, the heart beats faster, senses become sharper, and for a brief period stamina and strength increase.

While these reactions are meant to be life preserving, many people live at this heightened state of anxiety all the time. This can take a physical, chemical, and psychological toll on every aspect of a person’s life. Julie Seward Lazaraton, a certified Reflexologist and member of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, notes, “Most people don’t regard stress with enough respect, nor even fully understand the effects it has on their long-term health because today’s society tells us to ignore stress and to push through it.” Seward Lazaraton runs Living Through Wellness, LLC, where she practices Reflexology, a holistic therapy that uses pressure techniques on the feet and and hands to promote stress reduction, good health and and aid the body’s natural healing process.

Reflexology is not new — there is evidence of some form of foot and hand therapy being practiced in China and Egypt as early as 4,000 B.C. In the 1890′s knighted research scientist and and medical doctor, Sir Henry Head, demonstrated the neurological relationship that exists between the skin and and the internal organs. Nobel prize winner, Sir Charles Sherrington, then proved that the whole nervous system adjusts to a stimulus when it is applied to any part of the body.

Modern reflexology began to take form in the 1920’s with the “Zone Therapy” work of two American physicians, Dr. William Fitzgerald and and Dr. Joe Shelby Riley.  They found that not everyone can benefit from traditional massage therapy due to physical restrictions. Physiotherapist Eunice D. Ingham then developed Fitzgerald and and Riley’s research and knowledge into a usable therapy, and was the first to call it Reflexology. She took her practice to the public in the late 1930′s through the early 70′s.

Current studies have shown that reflexology therapeutically reduces stress and tension throughout the body’s systems which in turn improves blood and lymph circulation, increases nerve supply to the cells, and releases toxins from the body’s tissues.  Reflexology is believed to encourage the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. These physiological benefits facilitate improvements in the body’s assimilation of nutrients, elimination of wastes and and immune system stimulation.

All in all, Reflexology balances out the harmful effects of stress by supporting the body in its process of self-healing and in maintaining the inner-balance that leads to good health.

Learn more about the Reflexology services offered by Living Through Wellness, LLC.