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Reflexology techniques use pressure points on the hands and feet thought to correspond to other areas of the body. Applying pressure in various ways helps some people alleviate stress, pain, and manage symptoms of other medical conditions when used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment. Individuals can apply reflexology techniques themselves or see a trained reflexologist for a formal treatment session.
The most basic reflexology method is applying pressure to specific areas of the hands and feet by pinching and kneading the area between the fingers. For example, squeezing the tips of each toe may help with headaches and other pains in the head, since these areas are thought to correspond to the head and brain. Reflexology techniques that focus on rotating the toes and fingers in a slow, circular movement may help alleviate stress, particularly in the neck and shoulders since the main joints of the fingers and toes correspond to the neck. Another rotation technique involves holding the thumb still in a specific area and rotating the hand or foot around the thumb to apply varying levels of pressure.
Reflexologists typically use the pads of their thumbs and index fingers to apply pressure. The thumb is well suited to the sole of the foot and the palm of the hand. Index fingers are often a better choice for the backs of the hands and feet where the skin is tougher and more rigid. While pressure is the main source of reflexology treatment, sliding the thumbs or index fingers over large areas of the hands and feet can help relieve stress in general and relax the client during the session.
Certain reflexology pressure points are very small and specific, such as the small area in the middle of the underside of the big toe, which corresponds to the pituitary gland. For these tiny areas, reflexologists often use a technique called hooking. This technique involves pressing the very tip of the thumb into the pressure point and quickly sliding it outward or upward in a hooking motion while holding the foot or hand stationary.
Self reflexology techniques often involve the use of devices to help people reach certain areas or provide more pressure. Pressing areas of the hands and feet down on golf balls or rolling them back and forth can help relax the entire area or provide targeted pressure in designated areas. Foot and hand rollers made specifically for reflexology are generally made with smooth wooden rollers that slide back and forth over pressure points.