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Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by Mark Russell, Oct 1, 2005.

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    Interesting article in today's Times. www.timesonline.co.uk
  2. Felicity Prentice

    Felicity Prentice Active Member

    I suspect that as Foot Practitioners we get a bit antsy about reflexologists - territorial issues and all.... But the overwhelming message of this article was that somebody took the time to empathetically listen and respond to this lady.

    I don't actually 'hold' with the theorical basis of reflexology, but I do know that as Podiatrists we have a very powerful therapeutic tool which is similar to that found in complementary medicine. Time. So many studies show that patients' symptoms improve when health practitioners listen. I read an article recently which demonstrated that doctors tend to interrupt the patient's initial description of symptoms within 30 seconds of their monologue. All the name of 'asking more focussed questions to elicit significant information'. In fact, when we let people talk, uninterrupted, often the more pertinent and significant stuff drops in to the conversation unprompted.

    The average Pod consultation is from 15 to 30 mins - and we don't stick things in peoples mouths to stop them talking like dentists do. (Is it true that the cotton plugs they use are reject tampons where the string didn't stick on....sorry, that was uncalled for).

    We should use our time to treat the whole patient. I'm not sure that we need to pinch the feet until the patient relaxes, but we can listen. And that is pretty powerful medicine.


    Felicity (who is avoiding what she should be doing by posting long boring epistles on this forum....)
  3. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member

    Hi Mark

    As someone who does reflexology as well as podiatry I find myself always slightly torn. There is the western approach to medicine which is very physiological and there is an approach to treating people (for want of a better term and to make us more at ease we call it comp' med') that would appear to work at an "energy" level. I for one do not agree with the definition of reflexology that describes us dealing with health issues via nerve ending stimulation. I consider this to be an attempt to inadequatelywesternise something we cannot really explain yet, to this extent I think it serves to confuse. But it makes us more comfortable.

    Interestingly I also use an adapted form of reflexology in treating people who are having chronic rom problems in the neck and spine after a long term whiplash injury. This technique was pioneered by a Charter Physiotherapist in the UK. She did most of her studies on it based in GP pratices and some A&E departments. By palpating along the medial arch we are able to "detect" what would appear to be restriction in vertebral movements or rib movements. Application of specific types of pressure to these areas (where they are represented along the medial arch), often sees an increased rom occur in the vertebral areas etc, which can be maintained.

    I also use acupuncture points (no needles) when treating either sexual abuse or other type of trauma victims - the most recent was a paramedic with PTSD. This particular approach has arisen out of actual psycotherapy and has a demonstrable success. Its actual physiological affects are measureable by noting the change it makes in an individuals Heart Rate Variablity (HRV). That is, it normally remarkably improves within minutes post treatment. I find it interesting that in the world of psycotherapy the value and role of "energy" approaches to treatment is growing significantly. They may not know how it works but it is being seen to work. Amongst some of the research and intellectual members of this group there is a growing discussion of not "does it work" but, because it seems to, and is repeatable (time and money is now being thrown into trials for this) to what is the information of the mind that is being affected and how and how it is done almost instantaneously. This has caused a number of them to rethink the place of the mind in the framework definition of the make up of man.

    Over the years I have been involved in both comp and orthodox medicine I have given thought to why different areas of the body could be considered to map out other organs etc. For example, in acupuncture you can use it via the ear or on the main body.

    Currently, I consider all the comp med, hands on therapies to come under an umbrella term I have chosen to call "access therapy". That is, the human frame and system(s) ( and I would bracket energy into the systems) is essentially information. This information is communicated both along a physiological root and along an energy matrix (meridians are not my way of seeing it), within which the human frame is contained. We understand the passage of information physiologically but have never had a reasonable answer to how information could be communicated energy wise.

    Two developments that help me are:

    1. That the information in our systems, as contained within a energy matrix (no, honestly, I'm not thinking about the films here :D ), could be viewed as essentailly holographic. Access it at any point and you access not a part but a whole - hence my term of access therapy. Whatever energy hands on therapy you use you are simply accessing and influencing information.

    2. What is termed as the principle of "non-locality" The ability, sub atomically, of two related bits of information to have immediate and simultaneous influence upon each other no matter how distanced from each other. So stimulation of a part distant from another may have positive bearing upon it via the principle of non-locality - instantaneously.

    Into this thought process may well come the issues of intent etc.

    However, Felicity raises a valid point about time and listening.

    Holistic practice has been captured by western medicine (probably in response to public demand rather than an actual intellectual acceptance) to mean a number of physiological disciplines looking at an individual. I personally feel this is not actually holistic as it was originally meant. Holism was, at least to my understanding over the last 12 years, about embracing and working with both physiological and energy methods in an attempt to move a person towards their own Homeostasis.

    My own reason for training up in the various disciplins has been precisely to try and achieve this.

    Sorry for the ramble and apologies if my poor explantion of some of the attmps at a scienc bit are crude. Know doubt I will certainly be seen to be even more of the wall, but Hey

    Does it matter?!! No.


  4. C Bain

    C Bain Active Member

    Reflexology The Myth?

    Hi Ian,

    In my use of basic foot-massage which was part of my initial training in Chiropody it is not to difficult to see and assimilate with what the Ancient Egyptians were doing in their wall paintings, in if I remember rightly their tombs rather than their temples!

    This massage of hand and foot, working very gently on areas of vein, artery and nerve trunks/nerve endings in and under the skin are all possible in modern massage techniques and do not need the mystical Zone Theory or mappings of the body on hands and feet!

    Even acupuncture and Acupressure is severely restricted to certain therapies where a positive result has been measured on diseased conditions I believe?

    A good test and indicator to these therapies are when you study them you find a comparative simple low number of points on the torso in the beginning! After a little while when it's discovered by the practitioner that these points do not work a myriad of other points appear around it too, "Oh well you hadn't hit the correct spot had you!" More points or dots appear on the torso?

    In favour of Homoeopathy, Reflexology,Acupuncture etc.

    1. It relaxes the subject/patient, putting his/her body at rest! (Something rarely done these days voluntarily?).

    2. Physically uses modern western anatomy for the location of their pressure points and areas of sensitivity!
    Applied massage not much different from Western style on joints, tendons and muscles!

    3. Other factors such as auto-suggestion in soothing the fevered brow and relaxation of the body by massaging the Lower leg and foot, (Nothing wrong in this, in fact it can be very beneficial! It can be a disadvantage in Chiropody though when the patient needs to remain awake so that she can scream if you get to close to something!!! Many a one of mine drop off! Can be much better than anaesthetic though when it's the corner of a Hallux nail being curved!

    'It's called the Placebo Effect you know!'

    Old fashioned 'Mind over Matter, sorry Body!

    1. Forget about the Zone Theory etc.

    2. Forget about the Mythology of the Egyptian Gods or what you think you can see in the tomb paintings! Simply return to the old principles of massage. If I can put a patient to sleep just talking to her with foot manipulation, so should you! (Now don't be like that Felicity!).

    3. It must be remembered that all ancient medicines were always based and linked to the religion of the time. Try to remove it and you stood a good chance of been burned at the stake as a witch or worse if you are a man!

    A couple of examples,

    1. Orthodox Medicine of yore: Culpeper:- 'Rhubarb', Governed by 'Mars'!

    Garden Patient's. The distilled water healeth scabs: also foul ulcerous sores, and to allay inflammation! ( Also gets you to the toilet if you get to much of it, quicker than if someone shouted fire in a darkened room! This bit in the brackets all mine!). [Nicholas Culpeper, Complete Herbal, (1707-1778), p249, Ed.1985, ISBN 1 85007 026 1].

    Without Mars quoted in the 1700's you could be in dead trouble literally?

    2. Zone Theory: Reflexology. A method of massaging and applying pressure to the soles of the feet or the underside of the hands in order to treat all parts and organs of the body. It is claimed that there are connections between each part or organ of the body and specific points on the feet and hands. [Examining Holistic Medicine, edited by Douglas Stalker and Clark Glymour, Ed.1989 ISBN 0-87975-553-9 (paper) Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York. p392.]. This book is anti-complementary!

    3. Talking and listening, relaxing the mind and the body will earn your corn as Chiropodists, even if the healed corn will be back again because of the wrong things sticking out of the foot into the shoe sometimes!

    Can we as Chiropodists square the circle with ancient religious based myths in Complementary Medicine here I wonder.

    PLACEBO seems to be the only logical answer to the above.

    An illogical explanation, Zone Theory, boarding on science fiction does not sit well with Chiropody/Podiatry even if there is money to be made out of it?


    Colin. (Never Politically Correct!).
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  5. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Latest research

    The Effects of Foot Reflexology on Fatigue and Insomnia in Patients suffering from Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis.[Article in Korean]
    Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2005 Dec;35(7):1221-8.
  6. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Use of reflexology foot massage to reduce anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients in chemotherapy treatment: methodology and outcomes.
    J Nurs Manag. 2006 Mar;14(2):96-105
  7. Tuckersm

    Tuckersm Well-Known Member

    In both the studies reported on by News Bot, it would be intersting to see if the the results were so impressive if the control was a standard foot massage (whatever that is) cf reflexology, rather than reflexology cf nothing. we all know pretty much any foot massage can feel good.
  8. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Effect of Self-Foot Reflexology massage on Depression, Stress Responses and Immune Functions of Middle Aged Women.
    Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Feb;36(1):179-88
  9. Freeman

    Freeman Active Member

    I have a friend who was taking his training in reflexology a number of years ago and asked me if I would be one of his subjects. "Why not?" Now I have to say that many have described my foot as being more stiff jointed and tight than loose. After 45 minutes working on each foot, listening to whale singing ,warblers and waterfalls, in a dark room, I had to be scraped off the bed with a large putty knife. My "cavus" feet almost splashed when I stepped on the floor and they felt quite like heaven. He had to do 3 more sessions and I really looked forward to them all. There is still alot we don't know about the body in general, and it is very easy to poo poo something we don't understand. My comment to the naysayers is don't knock it if you haven't tried it. If nothing else, it is no small thing to have your feet feel really really good.
    Freeman (recently returned from Playas, Ecuador where it likely has never ,ever snowed)
  10. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Randomized controlled trial of foot reflexology for patients with symptomatic idiopathic detrusor overactivity.
    Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2006 Sep 27;
    Mak HL, Cheon WC, Wong T, Liu YS, Tong WM
  11. Scorpio622

    Scorpio622 Active Member

    As a foot practioner, I do not take issue with reflexology, though I admit I know very little about it. As I understand, reflexologists are attempting to treat/cure whole body conditions, not just foot pathology. I probably would have more of an issue if I was a GP or internist. If reflexologists are curing foot conditions by massaging/pressing on the sole, please let me know where to press.
  12. Freeman

    Freeman Active Member

    Good point. I wish I could write as well as you.

    I think what was therapeudic about my expereinces aznd how it "worked for me" was that each foot and lower leg received 45 minutes of careful massage. I certainly had little hope thought, or care about the rest of my body. I think if those who cast 6-10 patiniets a d ay had someone spend an hour and half massaging those areas of our bodies stressed by casting, on a regular basis, we might well say our mashed potatoes and red wine tast better.
  13. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member


    I think the issue of people using reflexology to "cure" conditions falls into the same category of those podiatrists who still suggest that "orthoses realign the foot to a normal position". Certainly, as someone who has used Reflexology for 10 years it was not a view I was taught nor one that is presented to my patients when I first see them. Practitioners certainly need to be more thoughtful sometimes with any claims they make but I was at a chiropody branch meeting last year where a podiatrist who uses an extremely expensive piece of gagetry said that it makes "prescribing orthoses as accurate as prescribing a pair of glasses"

    There can be no doubt that the amount of time spent with an individual makes an impact and, provided you can stand your feet being touched, the relaxing affect of reflexology is very good and I'm sure helps in itself. However, it is used much more seriously than that by other "orthodox" health professionals. Two examples of this are a consultant gynecologist who insists all her patients have reflexology when arriving to give birth and also uses it to aid couples struggling with fertility issues or uses it to try to stimulate the birth.

    The second example is in the world of physiotherapy. Here a particular Reflextherapy approach has been developed over the last ten years to address those who suffer long term whiplash injury affects. The use of this technique by one of the main developers of it is now forming the basis of a Phd specifically to explore the issue. Certainly in my own use of Reflexology and reflextherapy there have been many who have responded favourablyto the treatments for a wide range of medical conditions and a very senior nurse specialising in bowel cancer / chrones unit promotes the treatment greatly for her patients.

    I'm glad research is slowly finding a way forward in this area but I supect it will never really resolve the debate.

  14. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Partner-delivered reflexology: effects on cancer pain and anxiety.
    Stephenson NL, Swanson M, Dalton J, Keefe FJ, Engelke M.
    Oncol Nurs Forum. 2007 Jan;34(1):127-32
  15. akn102

    akn102 Active Member

    Hello everyone,

    I actually trained as a reflexologist with the AOR before I became a Podiatrist. I had turned to a reflexologist myself in a time of illness that orthodox medicine just seemed unable to cure and was astonished by the results. I enrolled on a training course within a week and one year later graduated the course.

    When i arrived at Uni for my Podiatry BSc i really wondered if learning in more depth about orthodox medicine would lead me to turn my back on complementary therapies. In fact my experiences as a student and now as a qualified podiatrist only strengthened my belief that we should never turn our noses up at something just because we can't understand it. I have been endlessly amazed by some of things that have happened when carrying out reflexology treatments and regularly find pressure points on my own feet to aid a back ache or headache. My research training on the BSc supported my belief that just because we can't measure the efficacy of reflexology also means we can't measure it negatively either. I'm frankly unsure whether I believe that the therapy is a specific in terms of the map of the feet - I certainly believe further research needs to be carried out using both complementary theory and orthodox knowledge. I can however report great success at helping stress conditions and also excellent results in helping people with sluggish circulation around the feet and ankles.

    I sometimes wonder if the most important aspect of the treatment in terms of helping stress problems isn't related to actually getting the person to sit down and relax for an hour something we all fail to do properly. Let's face it sitting down in front a stimulating TV programme is NOT relaxing. I really don't care how it works at this stage so long as we don't make unrealistic and unsupported claims to clients it really doesn't matter so long as they are feeling the benefits.

    I like to keep an open mind but also question and analyse everything.

    Bottom line is it is very relaxing (unless you're horribly ticklish) and I was very firmly taught on my reflexology course that it is NOT a diagnostic tool!

    Sorry to rant on.
    Over and out
  16. Alimcg

    Alimcg Member

    Hi, Im going to add my 2p worth..
    Having been at the giving and receiving end of reflexology, I think that everyone should experience it. I have no idea about how its mechanisms, but whatever it does it puts a smile on your face! I have had some pretty fantastic feedback from a client with IBS, and I know quite a few ladies with RA who felt it really helped them. Some pod-specific research has been done:

    Khan SD Otter SJ Springett K (2006) The effects of reflexology on foot pain and quality of life in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis - A case report The Foot, Volume 16, Issue 2, Pages 112-116

    Ps I agree with A, its not a diagnostic tool, and I would never dream of using it as such. I dont really think that this matters and as I understand it, it is encouraging the body to right itself rather than being a "cure" for things.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2008
  17. Alimcg

    Alimcg Member

    Re: the above, some undergrad colleagues carried out a study with a foot massage control group and reflexology for patients with RA. I believe it's due to be published later this year, although not very helpfully I have no idea where.. can find out though
  18. podojules

    podojules Welcome New Poster

    Hi Ali

    I was pleased to read your post presenting a positive view of reflexology. I graduated from Brighton in 2006 and was part of the group which looked at the effects of reflexology on pain, fatigue and sleep in patients with RA, so I shall be interested to see the results of the 2007 follow-up when published.

    I would like to wish you well for the remainder of your course, and good luck with finding employment at the end of it!

  19. a.mcmillan

    a.mcmillan Guest

    Are podiatrists soft on pseudoscience ?

    I recently had a patient who refused mechanical treatment (foot orthoses) for her 13 y/o son with painful navicular apophysitis. He had significant navicular hypertrophy bilaterally. The patient stated that her reflexologist advised against foot orthoses as it would decrease the control her son had on his bladder. Without an intervention, this boy is going to need either permanent custom footwear or a surgical consult.

    As health professionals with a stong grounding in medical science, I think it’s important for podiatrists to be able to cut through the pseudoscientific claims of alternative therapies on behalf of our patients – especially when those claims concern our own ‘backyard’.

    The theory of reflexology is completely implausible. It is based on the new-age definition of energy, and describes a mystical force-field of bioelectric energy termed the ‘life force’. This ‘life-force’ is claimed to flow through 10 longitudinal zones - five on each side of the body, with each organ or part of the body represented by specific zones on the hands and feet.

    These ‘longitudinal zones’ are not demonstrable by human biology, anatomy or physiology, and I sure can’t recall observing them in wet-lab ! And as for the ‘life force’, well of course it cannot be measured by any scientific means. This is fanciful make-believe, and is completely non-existent in reality.

    We all know the positive feedback associated with a foot massage, with increased blood flow and pleasant neural stimulation (why else would so many private practitioners end a consult with this guaranteed crowd-pleaser) but this is not reflexology – it’s a foot massage.

    As we know, any randomised trial evaluating the effect of an intervention on pain requires very accurate placebo control, as when a person thinks they are receiving an intervention and expects to feel better, they usually do. Couple this with a foot massage and just imagine the possibilities !

    Helen Garner, a prominent Australian author, has recently written a novel based on the experiences of a friend of hers who had terminal cancer. She describes the immense psychological distress and reduced quality of life her friend endured as a result of falling for the charms of alternative medicine as a last resort. The book is entitled ‘The Spare Room’.

    Personally I don’t think alternative therapies are harmless - they are misleading. I think health professionals such as ourselves have a responsibility to be less sympathetic, and provide our patients with evidence-based information based on the medical science we all rely on.
  20. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Maybe report them for child abuse :D :dizzy:
  21. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    Threads here at Podiatry Arena on reflexology are not meant to imply its endorsement or not as a science or pseudoscience, but to report on the evidence for it and stimulate debate and increase awareness of what patients are probably being exposed to. there have been several threads on reflexology.
  22. Ian Linane

    Ian Linane Well-Known Member


    Pleased to see some other Pods experience of Reflexology.

  23. I Agree!

    I think a crucial distinction which must be made is between Alternative medicine and Complimentary medicine.

    There is, IMO, a place for things like reflexology, acupuncture, reiki, chen balencing, crystal healing, and feng shui as part of a treatment package. Whilst some of these have some evidence, most do not. However there IS a proven benifit to patients from the use of placebo's, particularly in areas where conventional medicine can offer little more help (such as migraine, back pain etc). Placebos can be incredibly effective, even to the point where 2 sugar pills shrink peptic ulcers faster than 1!

    If these treatments are carried out to COMPLIMENT conventional care then i can see no problem with them, indeed, i may welcome them.

    ALTERNATIVE medicine, now that is a horse of a different colour. When reflexologists start telling patients to avoid orthotics or homeopaths promise to cure aids or give an alternative to malaria suppliments real harm can be done.

    As health professionals (and for the purposes of this argument i am including the "alternative" practitioner) we have a lamentable tendancy to run down other professions and areas. Witness the "my insoles are the ONLY ones that work" mindset of some on this very arena! I suspect we have all, from time to time, been guilty of this, however when an alternative practitioner warns a patient off conventional treatment they are in a tenuous ethical position.

    Kind regards
  24. C Bain

    C Bain Active Member

    Hi Ian,

    I agree with you on this, a main problem arises these days of the lost placebo. It was called the DOCTOR! People believed in him and trusted him.

    Then what did we get? The Doctor must tell the patient when and how the doctor considers the patient will die! If he gets it wrong and the patient died to quickly it is the patients right to sue him! And of course now her!

    All power to the alternative therapist. They didn't have to tell the patient, they are not supposed to know when their next meal is going to die are they! They can build on trust which has in this 'justice for all society' been lost to politics by the doctors.

    By the way two or even three sugar pills are OK. provided they are Green!

    Yours in His Name, We are told we mustn't trust in Him either,

  25. Stanley

    Stanley Well-Known Member


    Thanks for the explanation of reflexology. I have always thought that it was nonsense, but after your explanation, I am not so sure.
    Anatomically, the 5 zones makes sense.
    As you remember, in a different thread, I talked about the fascial trains and how this is where the acupuncture system is. It just so happens that there are 5 fascial trains in the foot. And yes, they connect with the rest of the body.
    Start at the 12th page.



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