When people talk about 'reflexology' (or reflex zone therapy), they usually make associations with massage techniques and acupressure points related to the feet. Though hand reflexology is definitely less popular than foot reflexology, hand reflexology certainly does provide some benefits compared to foot reflexology. The most obvious aspect concerns that fact that our hands are far more easy accessible, which could make hand reflexology one of the most easy accessible self-help tools available!
Some people may consider hand reflexology to represent a new practice but, in fact, hand- and foot reflexology have both been used as part of medical care as early as the ancient Egyptian- & Chinese civilizations. Actually, despite it's lower popularity, hand reflexology is build on similar theories and techniques that are recognized to represent the foundation of foot reflexology. The basic assumption used by the reflexologist is that each organ, gland and part of the body is reflected in both the hand and the foot. Stimulation of the so-called 'reflex points' promotes relaxation, improves circulation and encourages the body to heal itself. Therefore hand reflexologists often refer to: "the calming touch of hands", and they often claim: "Health is at your fingertips!"
According modern science the hand can be recognized to represent the most differentiated part of the human body. Hand reflexology involves the physical act of applying pressure (via reflex- or acupressure points) to the hands with specific thumb, finger or full hand massage techniques (without use of oil or lotion).
Recently, the popularity of hand reflexology has grown with the increase in hand-use intensive activities such as: gaming, key boarding, Blackberrys, and texting - because hand reflexology provides a relieving respite in the hand's busy day. Hand reflexology can therefore serve as an accessible tool to get some relief from the stresses that new technologies sometimes put on our hands. It turns out to be an excellent tool for a 'headache-break hand massage' and since 2009 is was hyped as a 'perfect Valentine's day gift'.
In a 'somatic reflex arc' sensory information is processed at the level of the spinal cord, resulting in muscle action without involvement of the brain.
For example: if one's fingers get burned by a candle, the hand that receives the painful stimulus is rapidly removed from the flame with the jerking motion; at the same time the brain is receiving indicating that a painful event occurred in the hand. It is important to understand that although the brain may perceive the painful stimulus (at the level of the skin), the 'reflex arc' acts to retract the hand without direct input from the brain.
Even though there are clear parallels for the hand and the arm between the 10 vertical zones in hand reflexology (see picture below), the meridians (which represent a concept from traditional Chinese medicine), and the so-called 'dermatomes', it is far from easy to recognize these parallels (see picture above). For example, the dermatomes appear to curl around the hand and the arm towards the spine in a manner that at first sight may look like parallel to the reflexology hand zones; however, there is no likewise parallel regarding the reflexology zones, the meridians and the dermatomes of the feet & legs.
In order to understand the fundamentals properly it is important to be aware of the nature of the Yin & Yang meridians inside the hand (which play a key-role in acupuncture) and the organs. The inner thumb is associated with the lung meridian (= lung primary channel), and the inner pinky is associated with the heart meridian (= heart primary channel). This explains why in many 'acupressure' hand charts the heart is located at the ulnar upper section of the palm (of the left hand), while the lungs are located at the radial upper section of the palm. However, not all reflexologists are using this basic meridian principle.
Your 10-minute hand reflexology self treatment starts with:
• Step 1 - Pinching the finger tips and thumb of your right hand.
NOTICE: The pressure applied to each finger should be firm, but make sure it is not painful. A few seconds for each single finger tip will be sufficient. The following step is to repeat this process on your left hand.
The next steps are:
• Step 2 - Pinching the sides of your finger tips;
• Step 3 - vigorous finger rubbing;
• Step 4 - more finger rubbing but now the tops and bottoms + rubbing the sides of your fingers;
• Step 5 - finger tugging: grasp each single finger (and thumb) at the base and tug firmly;
• Step 6 - pinch and pull the webbed areas between your fingers;
• Step 7 - gently massage the top of your hand with your thumb;
• Step 8 - gently massage your inner wrists;
• Step 9 - massage firmly the palm of your hand; and step 10 - centering by your thumb deeply in the center of your palm.
By the way, a training in foot reflexology usually doesn't include a training in hand reflexology. So, When looking for a hand reflexologist you should really ask if he/she had a specialization in hand reflexology!
NOTICE: likewise principles are being applied in foot reflexology to the feet, and likewise principles are being used in ear reflexology to massage the ears.
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