The Essence of Reflexology

Reflexology can be explained in one simple sentence: Reflexology helps the body to heal itself. Mostly, this occurs on the body’s own terms. Your body knows what kind of healing is priority at any given time. This is sometimes referred to as the bodies innate wisdom. Innate wisdom can be explained as the intelligence that keeps our BodyMind complex in balance and re-establishes balance (this balance is referred to as homeostasis).

Does the body need help in healing itself?

Although there are times when the body is very good at healing itself, there are many times when the body needs some assistance and guidance in healing itself, particularly when one is very stressed.

Reflexology is one of the ‘tools’ that one can use to assist with the healing process.

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Reflexology: Moving from relaxation to rehabilitation

This post was inspired by the annual TSARS national reflexology congress held in July 2016. It was centered round neurological conditions and recovery with reflexology.

It makes one realize that the benefits and effects of reflexology are overlooked. This is mainly because of the lack of scientific evidence (due to lack of funds). However, there have been a number of case studies done on neurological conditions such as strokes and brain trauma injuries with the treatment of therapeutic reflexology.[1](see below for links)

reflexology-nervous system
reflexology nervous system

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The 5 Emotions of TCM

The 5 emotions related to the 5 elements of Traditional chinese medicine.

Your emotions can create an imbalance in the meridians (or body energy pathways) and may cause dis-ease, if not addressed.

What are emotions? “Emotions are biological states associated with the nervous system brought on by neurophysiological changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure. There is currently no scientific consensus on a definition.” [1]

Emotions are energy in motion, “The end product of an experience is an emotion, and emotions are energy in motion. Because where we place our attention is where we place our energy” – Dr Joe Dispenza

In Traditional Chinese medicine, each organ and element is associated with an emotion.

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The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is our first line of defence when it comes to immunity. The cells that are a part of the immune system are like our army that destroy and clean up bacteria and toxins in our body as well as transport nutrients around the body.

It is clear that this system plays a vital part in maintaining our health, so it is crucial to support it and beneficial to understand a little bit more about it.

The lymphatic system consists of lymphatic vessels, nodes and organs.

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Practising Healthy Mental Health

Your mental health can arguably be more important than your physical health. This is because your mental health sets the tone for your mood, your attitude, your day, and ultimately your life.

In reflexology, we often see areas of congestion on the feet before they manifest physically, very often these are signs of psychological stress, and if not dealt with, can lead to physical illness.

When your mind is in turmoil, it reflects on the feet.

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An Insight into Foot Reading

What is foot reading and how was it discovered?

Foot reading may also be referred to as “Solestry”, but 

“Unlike palmistry, which claims to tell your future, foot reading can only reveal your personality because you are just carrying around the imprint of everything that’s happened to you. I can tell you about your past and your present, but not predict your future.”

Jane Sheehan[1]

Foot reading is apparently just as old as reflexology. It is said to have been around in China and India over 5000 years ago[2]. The Ancient Chinese where known to observe the body instead of perform dissections of cadavers. In order to know what was going on internally they used the diagnostic and evaluation tools such as assessing and observing the tongue, face, feet, pulse reading / palpitation and meridian assessment to identify what was going on in the body and what imbalances there were so that they could remedy them by endeavoring to re-balance the body.

Foot reading is perhaps a similar diagnostic tool to iridology. Often reflexology gets confused with being a similar principle to iridology, which is only half true. Reflexology can be ‘split’ into two parts: 1. The assessment of the foot (and / or hand, face, ear) and 2. Working on the reflexology points and meridians using a massage like technique, mainly to help facilitate self-healing and balance in the body.

Why (some) Reflexologists use foot reading as an assessment tool and How is it beneficial to a reflexology treatment.

There are different levels of foot reading (or foot assessments as most modern professional reflexologists like to call it).

All reflexologists (should) perform an assessment of the feet on some level. Whether they are just working with the physical aspects, or look beyond to the psychological and emotional aspects, or the subtle metaphysical energetics of the body.

To give you a general understanding, the different parts of the feet not only correspond to the different organs in the body, but also to different psychological or metaphysical aspects of ones’ life.

The toes represent our 1. Thought, beliefs and ideas; 2. the ball of the foot represents our feelings; 3. the upper arch of the foot represents what we are doing and the drive and determination we have (or do not have) doing things; 4. the lower arch of the foot represents relationships and our attachments; and 5. the heel of the foot represents our motivations and security. These sections cross both horizontally and vertically – starting with 1. Thoughts & beliefs at the big toe, going across and ending with 5. Motivation and security at the 5th toe.

Different markings on the feet represent what is going on in that area of the body.

The shape, size, colour and temperature of certain areas of the foot also indicate a person’s temperament, constitution as well as the health and condition of the organs and body.


I’ll give you a very brief example of an anonymous pair of feet (permission received to use these images) to show you some aspects of what would be ‘read’ . This example just shows the soles / plantar aspect of the feet, but when doing a foot reading we look at the tops and sides of the feet as well.

A foot reading analysis should not be a ‘definitive’ remark but should be open to some interpretation based on holistic aspects of the persons life. The reflexologist is only there to tell you what they see or what the foot is telling them. A weakness should not be seen as a limitation and a strength should not be taken for granted – work on the weaknesses and cultivate the strengths.

  1. How the toes line up – The 3rd toe is shorter than the line, this may indicate that this person is not very aggressive or assertive, or they lack creative energy. The big toe pad is large and the toe is over the line, which can indicate that this persons’ energies get lost. They could be full of ideas and like to talk a lot. They could achieve great thing, but first need to find clarity of thought.
  2. Yellow hue to the stem of the second toe – This indicates something chronic – on a physical level it could either indicate chronic inflammation of the eye; or chronic sinus / mucous. In a psychological level, this person might be fed-up of what they are seeing
  3. The 4th toe pad is noticeably larger on the left hand side which may indicate that relationships with people occupy a lot of ‘space’ in their minds, relationships and people may be very important to them.
  4. The 2nd toe on the RHS is ‘hidden’ by the 3rd toe – this may indicate that their feelings where suppressed by what they were doing (RHS = past).
  5. Yellowing of the chest / heart reflex – this person may have mucous or inflammation in the chest or they are unhappy, but keeping their bitterness and frustration to themselves.
  6. Cross (x) on the heart reflex, more noticeable on the LHS foot. This could indicate some damage to the heart, or a heart break that really ‘cut deep’
  7. Yellow, hardness and slight protrusion of the shoulder reflex. Strain on the shoulders. Could also indicate frustration with having to bear other people loads.
  8. Some puffiness of the stomach reflex – this may indicate that they are feeling that it is difficult to ‘stomach something’ or s situation, or they are weighed down with worry.
  9. High arches – this person may feel most comfortable in their own company; they like their independence and may struggle to ask other for help.
  10. Deep lines in the 4th vertical zones may indicate that emotions are getting in the way of whatever is going on in relationships.
  11. Blister on the heel – blisters indicate emotional friction rubbing up against their ideas or beliefs or a continuous habit that irritates them. The RHS heel related to fear.

In most reflexology practices, we just perform foot reading on a physical level. But sometimes it is necessary to bring to the patient’s attention what we are seeing from an emotional / psychological level. An intensive foot reading assessment can take at least 2 hours.

One question I get asked quite a lot is, can the feet change? Yes, definitely! Whereas the general shape and size of the foot will very likely stay the same, other parts of the feet are constantly changing. Maybe not so obviously, but the toes might start to change direction, colours and texture of the feet change and blisters and callouses may form and disappear.

Have you heard of Foot glyphology?

I recently came across the term foot glyphology on one of the reflexology groups I belong to. Foot glyphology is not the same as foot reading. In foot glyphology, the interpretation is based only on the lines on the skin of the soles of the feet.

“Foot Glyphology interprets the lines in skin of the soles of the feet that lay over documented bio-energetic reflex zones.”


As professional reflexologist, it is not always our place to read the feet on a deeper psychological or emotional level. We generally tend to work with the ‘first layers’ which is what is happening on a physical and basic emotional level. The reason being is that reflexologists are not psychologists and not all reflexologists have proper training to help their patients to deal with issues that they may bring to the surface of their patient. Your reflexologist may only go as far as to tell you what they see in the feet. If the patient would like, and the reflexologist is able to, a deeper analysis may be done, but the patient should then be referred to another therapist to deal with the processing of any underlying issues if the reflexologist is not qualified to do so.

The main aim of a reflexologist doing a foot reading would be to create an awareness for the patient. To identify where strengths and weaknesses are, as well as what issues, life events, etc have been ‘imprinted’ on the body (through the feet).

If you have any questions related to reflexology, foot assessments or foot reading, please feel free to contact me!




Reflexologist Patient Assessment & Treatment Protocol

Why is reflexology important, and what makes reflexology so effective?
This is one of the questions I asked myself many times during the first couple of weeks of discovering reflexology.
To be honest, when I first started out as a reflexologist, I often wondered if reflexology was a ‘good enough’ as a standalone therapy.

Reflexology falls into the allied / complementary health sector.
It is a holistic healthcare modality, which means that this therapy works on the whole person, including mind, body and spirit/soul. The ‘wholism’ of reflexology makes it easier to incorporate different methods of treatment into our practice. Reflexology is ever-evolving as reflexologists are always learning new techniques.

You will most probably not find two reflexologists that are practising exactly the same. This is because reflexology is both an art and a science. We are regulated by AHPCSA, which covers the basics, and most of the science part of the therapy, but the ‘extra’ protocols that reflexologists use is vast. It depends on the primary education that the therapist received, as well as the continued education and of course, experience.

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Your Psychology becomes Your Biology

The Brain-Heart Connection put into practice

Your body is not divided into separate entities. For us to function optimally, all the organs need to work in harmony, and for that to happen, proper communication between organs and body parts is vital. This is one of the main aims and principles of reflexology. One of the most important communication connections could be that of the brain and the heart. Your mind and body work together to create the person that you are.

Heart and brain connected by a knot on a white backgroundThere has been a lot of research done over the past 4 decades to find out more about this brain-heart relationship. One well-known institution that has done and shared a lot of research is HeartMath.

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Hormones and the Endocrine System

The Endocrine system is one of two systems that control what goes on in the body. It does this by releasing chemical messengers, known as hormones, into the bloodstream to signal the endocrine glands to perform a specific function. These hormones are secreted by the 7 main endocrine glands and hormone-producing cells (tabulated in more detail below). Unlike the nervous system, the endocrine system is relatively slow-paced.  It affects functions such as growth, reproductive health and even our emotions and mood.

Summary of the hormones 

The endocrine system works closely with the nervous system and the immune system.

The endocrine system plays a role in:

  • Growth
  • Immunity
  • Metabolism
  • Blood glucose levels
  • Water retention
  • Digestion
  • Adipose (or fat) tissue
  • Bone and muscle health
  • Fertility

How can reflexology help with optimal or better functioning of the endocrine system?

Reflexology can help with easing symptoms of hormonal ‘imbalances’ such as PMS; menstrual cramps; stress responses; low immunity. Reflexology encourages homeostasis or balance in the body.

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Do I need Reflexology?

Do I need Reflexology (even if I don’t have a problem I need to address)?

Every so many kilometres your car goes for a service, even if there are no signs of problems or issues needing to be fixed. We just know that our vehicle needs to be maintained, and certain things need to be checked, cleaned and replaced. We do not expect it to just keep on going properly without a service.

Your body is much more important than a material car, you cannot just get another one, so shouldn’t you ensure you take care of it? Most of us run around living our busy lives which leaves us with little time for ourselves. In addition, we are bombarded with toxins from pollution, food, chemicals and other lifestyle habits that put a strain on our health. It is has become difficult to maintain a healthy balance.
When we are under stress there is little energy available for the cells to regenerate and repair themselves. This ages us and makes us more prone to being in a disease state.


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