Reflexology is a complementary and alternative therapy that is the application of pressure to areas, generally on the feet, hands and even ears (Bauer, 2012). The therapy is based on a belief that there are areas on the feet that when massaged or pressed in specific ways will have a positive effect on corresponding areas of the body (Jaloba, 2011). Most people are familiar with reflexology as a therapy that is primarily on the feet. However it can be performed on the hands and ears as well. Reflexology is generally a relaxing experience for the client/patient and may be an effective way to alleviate many disorders (Bauer, 2012). Many find the therapy to be very appealing. This is mainly due to the non-invasive nature of reflexology as discrete therapy (Booth, 2013). In addition, anxiety levels are reduced since the only clothes that need to be removed are the client’s socks and shoes (Booth, 2013).
A study regarding acupuncture and reflexology as a treatment for insomnia produced promising results. Over a three week period of time the subjects, who all had experienced sleep disturbances, into one of three groups (Hughes, McCullough, Bradbury, Boyde, Hume, Yuan, Quinn, and McDonough, 2009). The three groups consisted of Acupuncture, reflexology and music therapy. Since there is no pressure point for insomnia, the pressure points of the central nervous system were used (Hughes, McCullough, Bradbury, Boyde, Hume, Yuan, Quinn, and McDonough, 2009). Of the three groups both the acupuncture groups as well as the reflexology groups showed a clinical improvement in sleep as evidenced by decreased awakenings and an increase in total sleep time (Hughes, McCullough, Bradbury, Boyde, Hume, Yuan, Quinn, and McDonough, 2009). The only drawback with the study was that music therapy was the only therapy in the trial that did not have a consistent interaction with the therapist (Hughes, McCullough, Bradbury, Boyde, Hume, Yuan, Quinn, and McDonough, 2009).
Compare and Contrast
The practice of reflexology can actually help the body heal itself. Many clients will often seek the help of a reflexologist to provide relief to common ailments such muscular-skeletal pain, insomnia, hormonal or digestive issues (Booth, 2013). When treating insomnia, traditional methods often include oral medications that promote sleep such as over the counter Melatonin or prescription Ambien. While Melatonin is a relatively mild sleep aid, medications in the category of Ambien can cause amnesia, confusion and even a dependence on the drug (Parker, 2013). With reflexology there was no evidence of dependence as a side effect of the therapy. This is one reason why I would suggest someone at least trying reflexology before taking medications like Ambien. When recommending reflexology to patients focusing on the lack of side effects and non-invasive method is key. I feel that especially when used in conjunction with traditional methods, reflexology can provide increased relaxation as well as relief from many ailments. As with many things, I believe you have to believe the treatment is going to work. If you go into the therapy with a negative outlook it is not going to work. Many articles are out there that report reflexology being responsible for relieving stress, anxiety and pain (Jaloba, 2011). Others point to reflexology having hemodynamic effects on the cardiovascular system (Jones, Thompson, Irvine, & Leslie, 2013). It seems that the reach of this therapy has not yet been fully researched.
Alternative Therapy for Myself
As far as using this therapy for myself, I can definitely see this working. I carry my stress directly under my shoulders. Often times I will feel pressure there that is only relieved with deep massage to that area. If I have trouble sleeping, it is because I cannot get comfortable due to that soreness in my back or restlessness due to not being able to shut my brain off from the day’s events. Work related