I was asked to define reflexology for a textbook entitled Touchabilities – Essential Connections. written by my good friend Iris Burman of Educating Hands Massage School and Sandy Friedland. For legal purposes, this material is copyrighted 2006 by Thomson Delmar Learning – part of Thomson Corp.

Having been involved with reflexology early on in my career, I’ve had the pleasure to watch the profession grow and take part in several beginning phases from the creation of the national certification board to many of the associations in place today.

Here is my definition from Touchabilities:

Reflexology is a practice based on the principle that manual pressure with specific thumb and finger techniques applied to the hands and feet will create physiological, chemical and emotional changes throughout the body.

In Reflexology, an overlay of the body image is positioned over both the hands and feet. Stimulation to the hand and foot points reflexively affects corresponding body parts and can produce positive health benefits.

At face value we have appendages with five digits attached that are made for touching, feeling, standing and walking. Looking more closely at the hands and feet, an entire world emerges. There is a display of lines, colors, toe and finger shapes, skin texture and temperature, as well as sensations as pressure is applied. Healthy hands and feet should not be tender to firm pressure and when they are, it’s a warning sign that the health of the hands and feet or the overall body is compromised.

From a holistic perspective, the body functions as a whole and is therefore affected by everything we do and say. Reflexologists not only see and evaluate the body through the body image on their hands and feet, their direct application of pressure to specific points reflexively affects the entire body.

Reflexology is versatile and simple to use as a self-help modality. It is a wellness and therapeutic practice that brings relief to many ailments and provides important sensory stimulation at the point of application. It is noninvasive and provides nourishing pressure and joint movements to everyday “abused hands and feet,” relieving them of local pent-up stress and reducing overall stress levels throughout the body.


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