Reflexology explained

By Milly Nolan

Reflexology shouldn't be mistaken for a foot massage. It's much gentler and has more health benefits.

Explaining what exactly reflexology is and how it works to my 92-year-old Great Aunt was difficult to say the least. For someone who has always relied on western medicine – until her more recent foray into practicing Tai Chi – I’m sure she thought I had lost my marbles when I stated that the health and wellbeing of one’s body, mind and soul is reflected in the feet and that you can address any imbalances, illnesses or mental health issues by applying pressure to them in a certain way.

Although the origins of reflexology can be traced back to ancient Egypt, it is a difficult phenomen to explain. It’s most common definition is “a holistic, non-invasive therapy based on the principle that all parts of the body are reflected on the feet, hands and ears.”

When things such as stress, toxins and illness affect the body, blockages manifest in the corresponding reflex points in the feet, hands and ears, therefore inhibiting the flow of energy that is vital for health and wellbeing. By applying pressure as well as massage to the reflex areas on the soles, tops and sides of the feet it is possible for the relexologist to determine which areas of the body are out of quilter and therefore they can help clear these blockages to promote balance in the physical, mental, emotional and energetic levels of the body. The areas of the body needing attention may be reflected in the feet through discomfort, sluggishness, puffiness, swelling, tension or a build up of crystals under the skin.

While reflexology is not typically described as a “beauty” treatment, it treats the whole body as an entirety and therefore works on the notion that a healthy inside is reflected on the outside. And there’s no doubt that when you feel fit and healthy, you look it too. Inner beauty equals outer radiance, right?

So, feeling a bit out of whack myself and with my usual complaint of a sore stomach (due to food allergies and intolerances), I went to see Auckland based reflexologist, Stephanie Gowan to try the treatment myself.

After a thorough consultation, Stephanie ascertained the three areas that I needed addressing – poor circulation, stomach pains and regular headaches. Lying in a recliner with a rug over my knees and with soft, gentle music in the background, it was hard not to feel relaxed as Stephanie applied a combination of pressure and massage techniques on the reflexes of my feet. Reflexology shouldn’t be mistaken for a foot massage, however, as it is much gentler.

After the hour-long treatment I felt calm and relaxed. I was told to drink plenty of water to help flush out the toxins that had been stirred up by the treatment and to take it easy for the next few hours or do some gentle exercise such as yoga or walking.

The effects of a treatment can take two to four days to settle although for some people a shift in feeling isn’t noticed at all. I, however, had arrived at Stephanie’s with my symptoms at their worst, so I was most relieved that two days after the treatment and for the next six weeks, my stomach was much more settled and less sensitive to my food allergies and intolerances.

I also noticed that I had a lot more energy, my spirits were high and I felt like I could tackle any task. I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome and am already looking forward to my next session.


•    Reduces stress

•    Balances the nervous system

•    Improves sleep quality

•    Boosts lymphatic function

•    Improves circulation

•    Detoxifies the body

•    Enhances the body’s natural healing process

•    Affects all body systems

•    Promotes body awareness


The best place to look is the Reflexology New Zealand website or the Reflexology Association of Australia website where a list of names are provided.

To make an appointment with Stephanie Gowan, call +64 9 524 7632.



WHAT: A chance to learn more about natural healthcare therapies including sample sessions, seminars, information stands and discussion.

WHEN: Saturday September 12, 2009, 10am-4pm. Entrance is free with an opportunity to offer a donation on arrival or departure.

WHERE: St Columba Centre, 40 Vermont Street, Ponsonby, Auckland


Print Recipe

You may also like


Let us keep you up to date with our weekly MiNDFOOD e-newsletters which include the weekly menu plan, health and news updates or tempt your taste buds with the MiNDFOOD Daily Recipe. 

Member Login