Reflexology is a traditional form of massage that involves inducing pressure in different parts of the body. Typically, pressure is applied to places such as the hands, feet, and even ears. While there is not much scientific evidence to back these claims, the process of reflexology is based on a theory that certain body parts are directly connected to our organs and bodily functioning. If you are experiencing pain in a certain organ, you can use reflexology to ease that pain using the specific pressure point.
Hand reflexology is the process of using the hand as a pressure point. There are various points on the hand that are associated to various body parts, including the large intestine pressure point that is found in the webbed flesh between the index and middle fingers.
Reflexologists, both in the past and in the modern world, are firm believers of the fact that these pressure points are beneficial in lessening the symptoms of certain health problems.
The Theory Behind Reflexology
If you want to understand the concept behind the practice of reflexology, you can simply turn to traditional Chinese medicine that provides a suitable explanation. In ancient times, the Chinese believed in qi (pronounced as “chee”), or vital energy or an aura that flows inside each individual.
The belief clearly stated that when a person feels anxious or under worldly pressure, the body blocks out the qi, hence resulting in many health implications. To avoid this bodily imbalance, the Chinese used reflexology to ensure that the vital energy continues to flow uninterrupted through the body. They believed that this helped regulate blood flow and kept all organs inside the body healthy.
Modern reflexology continues to work upon the concept provided by traditional Chinese medicine. According to them, different body parts (such as the hands or the feet) are associated with different organs in the body. Since the ancient Chinese created maps of the various pressure points in the hands, feet, and ears, modern reflexologists continue to use such maps to practice reflexology.
If the theory about a vital energy flowing through our body does not sound promising enough to you, there are many other theories available that prove the use of reflexology as well.
1. The Connection from Science
In the mid-1890s, scientists in Britain discovered an integral connection between the surface of our skin and internal organs through nerves. These scientists were also the first to conclude that the nervous system of the body responded to sensations such as touch and adapted accordingly.
This discovery contributes towards the usefulness of reflexology because the pressure points may help in inducing calming feelings throughout the nervous system – thus promoting feelings of calmness and relaxation.
2. Psychological Connection
Early psychologists believed that the brain perceives intense emotional distress as a form of pain. This claim was later proved by researchers as they discovered that a common cause of migraines amongst people was high levels of stress. Since the brain responds to an emotional experience with a physiological reaction, it could be possible to reverse the effect through reflexology.
A calming touch or massaging sensations on the pressure points on the body can lead to reduced levels of stress as it could release happy chemicals such as dopamine in the brain. Stress levels can also be reduced through hand reflexology since it forces the person to calm down, thus releasing norepinephrine in the adrenal glands.
3. The Zone Theory
Similar to the ancient Chinese tradition, the zone theory is based on another traditional belief held by people of ancient times. This theory believes that the body consists of 10 vertical zones – each responding to certain pressure points on the hands and feet and intricately connected to internal body organs.
Considering the zone theory for reflexology, it can be inferred that by applying pressure to the hands in hand reflexology, one can gain access to the body parts in a certain zone. This allows practitioners to treat illnesses and ensure that the body function remains healthy.
The pressure points on Hand
The Guanchong acupoint is located on the hand, on the ulnar side of the ring finger of the hand, 0.1 inch away from the corner of the nail.
At the end of the ring finger, the corner of the nail root on the side of the little finger, and the side of the nail vertically downwards, the corner where the nail root is buried in the skin perpendicular to the side of the nail is the Guanchong acupoint.
Application: It is usually used for the treatment of sore throat, headache, fever and fainting.
Hegu acupoint is on the back of the hand, between the first and second metacarpal bones, at the midpoint of the radial side of the second metacarpal bone.
Application: Gum pain, tinnitus, deafness, rhinitis, tonsillitis, blurred vision, phlegm obstruction, suffocation, collapse, insomnia, neurasthenia, dysmenorrhea, mastitis, exogenous fever, trigeminal neuralgia, sore throat, irregular menstruation, netting Measles, stroke, rectal prolapse, eczema, acne, facial paralysis, oral ulcers, etc.
The Laozhen acupoint is on the back of the hand, between the second and third metacarpal bones, about 0.5inch behind the metacarpophalangeal joint.
Between the index and middle finger bones on the back of the hand, touch with your fingers towards the wrist, starting from the end of the bone and the narrowed finger, about a finger-wide distance, when you press it, the place where there is strong tenderness is Laozhen acupoint.
Application: Numbness of the fingers, inability to flex and extend the five fingers, stiff neck and cervical syndrome, diarrhea, loose stools, indigestion,convulsions in children,etc.
Shaochong acupoint is on the radial side of the distal segment of the little finger, 0.1 inch away from the nail angle.
In the posture of sitting upright with palms down, Shaochong acupoints are located on the left and right hands, the lower edge of the little finger nail, and the edge on the side of the ring finger.
Application: Heart palpitations, heartache, chest pain, mania, fever, coma, sore throat, etc.
Shaofu acupoint is located on the palm surface, between the 4th and 5th metacarpal bones. When making a fist, it is at the tip of the little finger.
Raise your palm and bend your fingers towards the horizontal lines of the palm. When the depression under your little fingertip is the Shaofu acupoint.
Application: Heart palpitations, heartache, chest pain, mania, fever, coma, sore throat, etc.
The Shixuan acupoint is at the tip of the ten fingers of the hand, 0.1 inch away from the free edge of the nail, and there are 10 acupoints on the left and right sides.
Application: epilepsy, pediatric convulsions, insomnia, fainting, coma, shock, heatstroke, hysteria, convulsions, etc. Acute pharyngitis, acute gastroenteritis, high blood pressure, numbness of the fingers.
The Sifeng acupoints are located on the palm surface of the 2nd to 5th fingers, in the center of the first and second horizontal stripes.
Application: Treat infantile malnutrition, whooping cough, ballance the forces of ‘yin’ &‘yang’, improve immunity and other effects.
The Yuji acupoint is located on the outside of the hand, at the dorso ventral boundary of the hand where the midpoint of the radial side of the first metacarpal bone.
Application: Tuberculosis, hemoptysis, asthma, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, fever, headache, dizziness, tachycardia, insomnia, hyperhidrosis, malnutrition, etc.
The Laogong acupoint is in the palm of your hand,between the second and third metacarpal bones are offset from the third metacarpal bone, the middle fingertip towards point when you make a fist and flex your fingers.
Application: coma, syncope, heatstroke, vomiting, heartache, madness, epilepsy, sore mouth and tongue, bad breath, etc.
The Zhongchong acupoint is located at the highest point at the end of the middle finger.
Application:Stroke, heatstroke, fainting, convulsions in children, fever, swelling and pain under the tongue etc.
The Applications of Hand Reflexology
If you are looking to try hand reflexology, here are a few ways that you can use the traditional massage procedure:
1. To Treat Anxiety
To relieve anxiety, you need to apply pressure on the Heart 7 (HT7) point of the hand. This is located below your wrist on your outer hand, where there is a little dent present. This pressure point is found on both hands, and you should massage each hand for one minute for anxiety relief.
The scientific research behind this treatment is a 2017 study that proved hand reflexology useful in reducing the anxiety levels of people who were scheduled to undergo a coronary angiography.
2. To Treat Constipation
Constipation is related to our intestines, and so the pressure point used to treat constipation using hand reflexology is the Large Intestine 4 (LI4) pressure point. This can be found in the webbed flesh between the index finger and the thumb. To relieve constipation, you should massage this pressure point for one minute on your right hand first, and then repeat the process on the left hand.
A scientific research behind this treatment is a 2010 research that concluded that 94% of participants reported lower symptoms of constipation after undergoing six weeks of hand reflexology treatment. These participants also reported lower levels of depression and anxiety, indicating that their constipation may be intricately linked to emotional causes such as stress. However, this study was particularly small and only contained 19 participants.
3. To Treat Headaches and Migraines
If you think that your constant headache is caused by extreme stress or anxiety, you can try practicing hand reflexology to ease the symptoms. The Large Intestine 4 (LI4) pressure point described above can be used to treat headaches as well. Instead of simply massaging the area, it is recommended to pinch the webbed flesh and focus on any soreness that you may find.
Headaches can also be treated using the Pericardium 6 (P6) pressure point on the hand. This is found about 2 inches below the crease of your wrist, between the two tendons on each side. You should gently massage this pressure point for one minute on each hand.
The scientific research behind this pressure point is a 2015 review study that reported a positive impact of hand reflexology on severe headaches. Participants received hand reflexology therapy for six months, and more than 50% of them reported reduced symptoms of headaches. Other results of the review study included 25% of participants being completely free of headaches, and 10% of participants were able to leave their medication for migraines.
4. To Treat Painful Sensations
For overall pain relief, it is recommended to try the LI4 pressure point as well. Reflexologists suggest massaging the area for one minute on both hands.
While there is not much scientific evidence to support this treatment claim, many people report a significant reduction in pain sensations after using this pressure point of hand reflexology.
The Benefits of Hand Reflexology
According to scientific research, hand reflexology can contribute towards the reduction of stress and anxiety levels, reduction in the sensation of pain, elevating mood, and improve the overall health of an individual.
Apart from these benefits, people who practice hand reflexology tend to report a wide range of benefits of this therapy technique. These include:
- Improved immune system
- Treating bacterial infections
- Clearing sinusitis and related infections
- Pain relief in the back
- Correction in hormonal imbalance, especially in women
- Boost fertility amongst women who experience difficulty in conceiving
- Improve liver function and digestion
- Treat nerve problems, especially peripheral neuropathy (or a tingling sensation in the hands and feet, commonly seen as a side effect of chemotherapy)
Is It Safe to Try Hand Reflexology?
Like any other massage therapy, hand reflexology is very safe to try. This is because you are only applying pressure to certain points on your hands which is supposed to induce a sense of relaxation.
Trying hand reflexology is recommended to people who are suffering from serious illnesses and traditional medicine is not appearing to be especially useful. Since hand reflexology is a noninvasive and comfortable procedure, it is certainly worth trying.
The only significant health warning issued regarding hand reflexology is if you have any blood clouts, circulatory problems, or open wounds on the hands. In this case, it is recommended to consult your health practitioner before trying hand reflexology.
While many of the benefits of hand reflexology do not have concrete scientific evidence to support them, a vast majority of people report a positive experience with this treatment. Since the entire procedure is completely safe to try, it may be a helpful tool to reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and headaches especially when no other treatment seems to be working.
A hand massage is extremely relaxing and is likely to induce feelings of calmness throughout your body. In elevated levels of stress, bodily function is often disrupted which leads to a weaker immune system. By using hand reflexology to relax yourself, you can easily strengthen your immune system and regulate body function.