In my experience, Reflexology is extremely effective for any type of back pain, whatever its origin. When the right areas of the feet or of the hands are treated with the right amount of pressure, the results are truly amazing. Nerve flow to the area of the back causing the pain is improved and, over several sessions - in a matter of a few weeks in most cases -, can even be optimized. The same goes for the blood and the lymph flows to the problem area of the back, as you were able to read in the previous section Reflexology: A Science.

There are unfortunately no valid medical studies to this day regarding the benefits of Medical Reflexology for back pain. But there are tens of thousands of accounts from Reflexologists and patients alike. We do know that Medical Reflexology works for other ailments such as Multiple Sclerosis. Valid studies have successfully shown the relief of several symptoms in patients with MS.

Reflexology Treatment relieves symptoms of multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled study by Siev-Ner I, Gamus D, Lerner-Geva L, Achiron A, Multiple Sclerosis 2003 Aug;9(4):356-61

With regards to non-specific back pain (that is 90% of cases, as I explained in the section Understanding Back Pain) things are more difficult to measure. We discussed that a person can feel an incredible amount of pain in the back even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with that back other than the muscles being weak. We saw that bad posture habits combined with a lack of activity combined with an attitude of fear of hurting your back even more led to weak muscles which were easily prone to spasms. And we described how muscle spasms cause pressure on the surrounding pain nerves and activate them. Both the muscle spasms and the activation of the pain nerves can trigger off 3 vicious circles which all lead to more pain and more muscle spasms. From one person to another this will be different and the levels of pain will also be different. The tolerance of pain from one patient to another is a very subjective matter. So, when there is nothing really wrong with a back other than the pain nerves having a big “pain bash”, it is very difficult for scientists to measure improvement. And, for scientists, a patient’s word is promising but not sufficient to prove the benefits of a treatment. Nonetheless, the results are so staggering that I am confident the right studies will come along in due time to prove what my esteemed colleagues and I already know to be true.

Let me illustrate my point with one of my personal cases (you will have the opportunity to read about many more cases in the Testimonials area):

An elderly woman in her early 70’s came to me because she had acute lower back pain. From the pain, she was not able to sleep well and she could barely do anything during the day. During the previous two years, she had been given – and taking – muscle-relaxers to help with the pain. However, the pain was still too acute and she couldn’t do any of the things she was used to doing – going shopping on her bicycle, on holiday with her husband, things around the house, etc. On top of that, a few days before her first session with me, she had fallen and slightly hurt her hip so she was forced to walk with a cane. I asked her to come 3 times a week for the first 2 weeks.

By the end of the first week, the cane was gone and she was feeling better. By the end of the second week, she told me that she had gone shopping on her bike, that she had rearranged the entire house, that she was planning a holiday with her husband, and that she had sharply reduced the dosage of her medication. Her son confirmed that all this was true. Amused, I asked her to please slow down a little. She insisted she had not felt this good in years.

Of course, this case proves nothing other than the fact that this patient felt better at an amazing speed. And the results are only relevant to her and to me. Yet, one has to admit that it is mind-boggling that the 70-year-old body of a lifelong heavy smoker could recover that fast. Older bodies don’t recover as fast as younger ones and heavy smoking also slows down the recovery process. So, if by now you weren’t convinced that our natural rebalancing system exists as demonstrated in the previous section Reflexology: A Science, perhaps the recovery of this former patient of mine will. My point is: if you’ve tried everything else and you really are in pain, give it a try. You have little to lose. REFLEXOLOGY CAN DO NO HARM; there are no detrimental side effects to it. None. Saying Reflexology could be harmful is as stupid as telling someone they shouldn’t take a walk on the beach barefoot! I have already given you all the tools you need to find a good Reflexologist. I will now explain which parts of the foot should be worked on for back pain.

First, a few reminders and tips:

- First of all, it is important to remember that Medical Reflexology is NOT a foot massage. The Reflexologist may incorporate some massage techniques in the treatment to relax the patient but the bulk of the treatment is in no way a massage. You should feel deep pressure from the Reflexologist’s hands.

- The Reflexologist will “probe” the feet to look for congested areas. When he or she finds those congestion areas, deep pressure techniques will be applied to de-congest those reflexes. This may be painful. The pain will only last as long as the Reflexologist’s fingers are working on the congested area. You will not go home with pain on your feet. When the Reflexologist sees that de-congesting a reflex is painful to you, he or she should ask you to breathe deep through the nose. This will release endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killer.

- A Reflexology session lasts between 45 minutes and one hour. In children and the elderly who are very sick, the time can be reduced (and the pressure applied is very light in the first treatments and only very gradually increased). The Golden Rule of Reflexology is that the closer together the sessions are in the beginning, the faster the recovery. Often, after two weeks of intensive treatments (3 times a week), a patient can stay almost pain-free for months without any additional Reflexology. 10 minutes of Reflexology every day is more beneficial than one whole -but very isolated- hour per week.

- It usually takes 3 to 4 sessions to see noticeable improvement. However, this can vary from one person to another. Some people will notice improvement from the very first session. For others it may take 6 or 7 sessions, depending on your age, your health condition, the amount of stress in your life, your nutrition, etc. Your Reflexologist will explain it all.

- IMPORTANT: Do inform your Reflexologist before the first session if you suffer from diabetes, if you have circulation problems, or if you bruise easily without knowing the cause. This way your Reflexologist will know to be more careful with regards to the amount of pressure applied.

- If you suffer from neck pain or migraines, there could be a back related problem. Reflexology is just as effective for neck pain and migraines.

picture A
In Picture A you can see how the top half of the human body is represented in the top half of the foot and the bottom half of the body in the bottom of the foot. The left part of the body is represented on the left foot and the right part of the body on the right foot. The same goes for the reflex areas of the hands. This picture is in no way a complete representation of all reflexes present in the foot but it gives you a good idea of how the reflexes are positioned in the feet. For you, this means that if you have lower back pain, your Reflexologist will very likely spend a substantial part of the Reflexology session on the bottom part of your feet (the entire heel area and around the ankle). If you suffer from upper back pain, your Reflexologist will then spend more time on the upper reflexes of your feet. (click on picture to enlarge; this picture is courtesy of the International Institute of Reflexology).

In Picture B and in the picture at the top of this page you can see how the curve of the foot perfectly matches that of the spine. The blue area indicates where the reflex of the spine is located.

In Picture C you can observe one of the various techniques used to work on the spine reflex.
(click on pictures to enlarge; these pictures are courtesy of the International Institute of Reflexology).

picture B

picture C

picture D
In Picture D you will find an illustration of additional reflexes which should be worked on when there is back pain. The red area corresponds, amongst others, to some of the important back muscles. You will notice that not all reflexes are located on the sole of the feet. Major reflexes can also be found on the top part of the feet (known as the dorsum) and on the bottom part of the leg. (click on picture to enlarge; this picture is courtesy of the International Institute of Reflexology).

The representations in these pictures are in no way exhaustive and are simply meant to guide you. Your Reflexologist will know perfectly well all the reflex areas which need to be worked on in your particular case.

Finally, let me mention that many Reflexologists are familiar with the acupuncture points located in the feet and apply pressure on these (without needles) during their treatment. These are powerful energy points which contribute to the rebalancing system. Every single action of every single moment that goes on in our bodies – whether voluntary or involuntary - is commanded by “electrical” impulses traveling through our nerves. With approximately 45 miles of nerves running through our bodies, it is safe to say that WE ARE ENERGY. Those who don’t believe that energy flows in our bodies exist or are essential to our well-being are simply ignorant about the functioning of the human body.

In the next section I will outline a longer term strategy to prevent your back pain from coming back.


Find a Reflexologist

Here below you will find links to the directories of Reflexologists trained in the Original Ingham Method and listed at the International Institute of Reflexology.

UK, Europe, Rest of the World:


The directory of the Association of Reflexologists in the UK:
(click on Find a Reflexologist)

The worldwide directory of certified ART Reflexologists (Advanced Reflexology Techniques):

Other useful directories: (from the Reflexology Association of America, USA only)
(from the Reflexology Association of Canada)
(from the South African Reflexology Society)
(Home of Nerve Reflexology developed by physical therapist and pain specialist Nico Pauly in Belgium. Therapists in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK)
(Home of Vertical Reflex Therapy where the patient stands during the treatment. Therapists worldwide.)
(Home of Chris Shirley's Pacific Institute of Reflexology in Vancouver, Canada)
(Home of the Reflexology Association of Australia)

More useful links on the
Links & References page.

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