Frequently Asked Questions about Foot Reflexology

Q. Does the history of reflexology begin with its use in Egypt 5,000 years ago?
A. While this is often reported to be the case, this assumption is incorrect. There are pictographs showing the hands and feet being worked on, but no proof exists they are performing reflexology. Instead it appears a pedicure, or some type of grooming, massage, or healing manipulation is being performed on the toes and fingers. The question is whether or not these pictographs actually depict the application of reflexology as a systematic body of knowledge as it is known today.
Q. Is reflexology massage?
A. The use of the term massage is not appropriate. Reflexology is not massage nor a technique within massage therapy. Conventionally people use the term massage very loosely to include other touch therapies that have nothing to do with standard massage techniques. Both, like many other therapies, such as chiropractic, osteopathy, and other somatic practices, involve the use of the hands to apply their techniques but are not the same.
Q. How does reflexology differ from massage?
A. Reflexology is a separate practice with its own origin, history, vocabulary, techniques and books. Its techniques are applied to reflex maps resembling the human body, which are believed to exist on the feet and hands and outer ears in order to help bring the body into balance through the relaxation process, thus promoting stress reduction and well-being. It works primarily with reflexes through the nervous systems versus the musculature. The effect of Reflexology is seen at a distance from where the pressure is applied; its intent is not to change the soft tissue of the body.
Q. Is reflexology part of cosmetology?
A. While pedicurists may massage the feet in their work, they are not performing reflexology unless they have been specifically trained in reflexology.
Q. Is reflexology part of the meridian system of Traditional Chinese Medicine?
A. The meridians are a different system. Reflexologists work on reflexes. In some places on the feet and hands meridians and acupuncture points overlap with reflexes but that is the extent of their association.
Q. What are the benefits of Reflexology?
A. Many of our health problems can be linked to stress. A body under the influence of prolonged stress is less capable of organizing its defenses against illnesses and repairing damage caused by injury. Stress can be mentally, emotionally, physically, or environmentally induced. Reflexology is primary a stress reduction technique. Through the relaxation process of Reflexology the body is better able to deal with the stresses placed on it by daily living and those associated with illness or injury.
Q. What ailments does Reflexology help?
A. A reflexologist does not practice medicine. Nor does he or she diagnose medical disorders or prescribe or adjust medications. While Reflexology has anecdotally been found to have a positive affect on the body suffering from a wide variety of chronic problems, it is not a substitute for medical treatment, but can be used as a complement to any type of medical treatment or therapy. Though any serious reaction to a Reflexology session is rare, there are times where the use of Reflexology is not appropriate.
Q. Is reflexology painful?
A. No, Reflexology should not be painful because the primary goal is relaxation. Sensitivity found when areas are reflexed is an indicator of where the body may be holding tension.
Q. Can the use of Reflexology guarantee good health?
A. Nothing can guarantee good health. However, Reflexology can help enhance your life and sense of well-being when it is incorporated into an overall healthy lifestyle that includes attention to diet, moderate exercise, and different forms of stress reduction.
Q. What can be expected in a typical session?
A. Only footwear is removed. The reflexologist may have the client either sit or lay down. A session last about 45 minutes and will include work on the feet and possibly the hands.
Q. Who is the typical reflexologist?
A. According to a job analysis survey conducted by the American Reflexology Certification Board, in the USA, reflexology is a mid-life career change. The “typical” reflexologist is 52 years old, has been practicing about 10 years in a suburban area. In her sessions she abides by a national Code of Ethics and Business Standards. She also typically carries practice liability insurance. Twenty-five percent of reflexologists hold a college degree.
Q. What practitioner credentials should I look for?
A. Reflexology education of a minimum of 200 hours and national certification by the American Reflexology Certification Board that requires passing a written and practical exam and 12 hours of continuing education biennially. Refer to or for more details.
Q. Where can I find a reflexologist?
A. The ARCB website,, provides referrals to nationally certified reflexologists as does the Reflexology Association of America, the national membership association, at