Reflexology is an alternative therapy that involves the application of appropriate pressure to specific parts of the feet, hands, and ears. This therapeutic modality is based on the theory that these particular areas are connected to specific organs, bones, and systems of the body—e.g. the left foot, hand, and ear correspond to the organs, bones, and body systems on the left side of the body. When pressure is applied to these areas, patients can experience enhanced health and well-being.

Reflexology practitioners use foot maps—created by a physical therapist around the 1930s— and reflexology charts to pinpoint the areas of the patient’s body that require pressure to relieve stress, pain, and other symptoms. Then, practitioners use their hands—though some may use objects like rubber balls, rubber bands, or wooden sticks—to apply pressure. The distinct thumb, finger, and hand techniques used in reflexology activate the pressure points and stimulate the nervous system.

Reflexology can release tension, lead to better sleep, and reduce pain, anxiety, and depression. As part of conventional treatments, reflexology practitioners claim that the treatment may also be beneficial for patients with medical conditions or disorders, such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, headaches, heart disease, and poor kidney function.