Alleviating pain with reflexology

by Christopher Shirley


• Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in North America and a major symptom in many medical conditions. As uncomfortable and inconvenient as pain is, it does serve as the body’s warning that something is wrong. No doubt, you have experienced how natural it is to protect the part of your body that is experiencing pain. Similarly, you will be motivated to avoid the pain-inducing situation in the future. However, some pain can be debilitating and hence destructive. Simply removing pain can mislead you into believing everything is fine when, actually, the source of the pain must still be addressed.

Reflexology, by relieving stress and tension, can ease pain naturally, sometimes when even the strongest painkillers do not work, as in the advanced stages of cancer. Relief of stress and tension through reflexology may also facilitate healing in the painful area.

Pain can take many different forms: migraine headaches, arthritis, cancer, soft tissue (including surgery), bone fractures, sciatica and fibromyalgia. No matter what kind of pain it is, it has a negative effect on the quality of our lives and our ability to function, making the reduction of pain very desirable.

History of reflexology

Dr. William Fitzgerald (1872-1942) is often called the father of reflexology as a result of his development in the US of reflexology’s predecessor, Zone Therapy (1915-1930s), which he promoted to his medical colleagues as an effective method of anaesthesia and analgesia. This was at a time when the medical profession had no safe and effective method of anaesthesia, which was a critical issue for surgeons. Subsequently, Zone Therapy was promoted primarily for pain relief and anaesthesia.

More recently, it has been recognized that reflexology primarily reduces stress and tension and that the benefits of reflexology – including its effectiveness at easing and relieving pain – evolve from the profound relaxation it facilitates. Pain can be intensified by our natural inclination to tense against it, which can create a negative spiral effect. Reflexology can reverse this negative spiral and produce significant relief.

When pain is acute, as in whiplash for example, one’s natural tendency is to tense as the site of the pain – the neck – is approached. One remarkable advantage of reflexology is that it is applied without approaching the pain site.

When reviewing a number of research studies evaluating the effectiveness of reflexology in addressing a wide variety of pains, it was found that reflexology produced positive results 75-80 percent of the time. However, it is not possible to predict whether reflexology will be effective in every case. Its effectiveness depends on how a person responds to it, which is true of every other therapy.

Reflexology is incredibly easy to learn and a wonderful tool for people who simply want to be more self-sufficient – and therefore less dependent on healthcare professionals – and for professional health practitioners who wish to expand their services. As a therapy, when applied with common sense, it is completely safe and offers the recipient a sublime relaxation. It also offers profound health benefits, all of which stem from the reduction of stress and tension, which frequently contribute to the proliferation of disease.

Christopher Shirley teaches, practises and promotes reflexology at the Pacific Institute of Reflexology in Vancouver, BC,

3 thoughts on “Alleviating pain with reflexology”

  1. thanks for sharing your article. It was brief and truth. I will share it with others.

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